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Cycle Law

Cycle Accident Types

There are many different ways you can be injured while out on your bike. The causes can range from a poor road surface or a pothole in your path, to a parked vehicle opening its door on you or a motorist failing to see you. Here we look at when, where and how most cycling accidents take place.

When Are Cycling Accidents Most Likely?

Four out of five cycling accidents take place during the hours of daylight, which corresponds with the period when most cycling miles are covered. Mid-afternoon, between 3pm and 6pm, and from 8am to 9am in the morning on weekdays, are the most dangerous times for cyclists. But bike accidents during the hours of darkness are more likely to result in death.

Cycling accidents are more likely to happen from May to September, the spring and summer months, than during the rest of the year. However, this is the time when more people are out on their bikes.

Where Do Most Cycle Accidents Happen?

Most cyclist deaths and serious cycling injuries take place at T-junctions and crossroads. Almost a third of cyclist deaths or serious injuries at such locations between 2009 and 2013 occurred when the cyclist went ahead and another vehicle turned right or left. One in five occurred when both the cyclist and the motorist went ahead.

Roundabouts are another danger spot for cyclists. Around 15% of cyclist deaths or serious injuries took place at roundabouts when the motorist pulled off when the cyclist was going ahead.

Three-quarters of cycling deaths or serious injuries take place in our towns and cities, while about half of all cycling fatalities take place on rural roads.

Most cyclist casualties occur on urban roads, about 60% in 2013. This is not surprising, as 70% of all cycle miles are covered in an urban setting.

However, although they carry just 30 per cent of cycle traffic, 58% of cyclist deaths in 2013 were on rural roads. So you’re less likely to be involved in an accident while cycling in the country, but if you are, it’s more likely to be serious.

Traffic speed is an obvious factor here, with traffic on urban roads having far lower average speed than that on rural roads. In general, the higher the speed limit of the road on which a cycling accident occurs, the more likely it is that the cyclist’s injuries will be serious.

Which Motor Vehicles Present The Greatest Threat To Cyclists?

HGVs are more likely to be involved in a pedal cyclist’s death than other vehicles. Between 2009 and 2013 they accounted for about 25% of cyclist fatalities on British roads, even though they made up only five per cent of all traffic.

Buses always pose a disproportionate danger, making up only one vehicle in 100 but being involved in one in 20 cyclist deaths.

Surprisingly, both HGVs and Light Goods Vehicles (LGVs) are involved in a lower proportion of collisions with cyclists overall – regardless of the severity of injury caused – than their relative proportions on our roads.

HGVs make up one in 20 vehicles but only one in 50 such accidents, while LGVs make up 13 per cent of vehicles and 7 per cent of such accidents.

With cars, the opposite is true. They form 78% of road traffic but are involved in just 58% of fatal accidents. However, they are involved in 87% of collisions with cyclists overall.

What Are The Contributory Factors In Cycling Accidents?

British police forces have recorded “contributory factors” in road accidents since 2005, increasing our understanding of how and why accidents happen. Although this is a subjective measure, being based on the opinion of the officer involved, it is, nonetheless, a useful indicator.

The most frequent factor in cycling accidents is recorded as “failing to look properly”.

Other common contributory factors recorded, in order of frequency, are…

  • Failing to judge the other party’s speed or path
  • Being careless, reckless or in a hurry
  • Poor turning or manoeuvring
  • A cyclist entering a road from a pavement
  • Driver passing too close to cyclist
  • Stationary or parked vehicle
  • Losing control
  • Disobeying a Give Way or Stop sign or markings

*The figures in this article are taken from the Department of Transport’s 2013 report Focus On Pedal Cyclists and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents’ Cycling Accidents Facts and Figures, 2014.

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