Cycling Accidents: Where The Trouble Happens
The amount of people regularly cycling to and from work has increased over the years and the current statistics become out of date as soon as they’re printed but the current estimate for regular cyclists (those that cycle more than three times on any given week) is still very low, currently resting at around the one million mark. There are thousands more cyclists out there though and because of the worryingly low numbers of regular cyclists, the vast majority of other road users rarely look out for cyclists or are unaware of how to drive alongside them appropriately. It’s not a surprise that the number or cycling accidents is on the up.
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents has released some startling figures, namely that the majority of cycling accidents occur in urban areas, with over 80% of those accidents taking place in broad daylight. 90% of all accidents that involve children happen during the peak commuting hours too and with statistics like that, it’s time for us all to do a little bit of extra research about how to be more visible to drivers and how to ride more carefully in future.
A separate study from London discovered that 68% of all cycling accidents within the City of Westminster were caused by the drivers of other vehicles and that over a fifth of all the accidents were caused by motorists failing to look properly. The other four fifths of accidents were caused by rider error and by poor road conditions and unavoidable obstacles.
With 68% of all accidents in a relatively small area being caused by other traffic, it’s worth finding out why these accidents are happening, what causes them to happen and where they’re happening. Read on to find out more!
The main reasons that cyclists fall victim to negligent car drivers is classified into four main areas:
- A driver failing to see a cyclist
- A driver driving recklessly or too fast for the road conditions
- A driver’s inability to correctly judge the speed of a cyclist
- A driver overtaking too close to a cyclist
If you’re a regular cyclist, you’ll be all to familiar with these scenarios, particularly the last one; it’s important to make yourself as visible as possible whilst riding and that can include wearing bright, high visibility clothing and making your presence known on the road by riding towards the middle of the carriageway rather than in the gutter. Find out more about that here.
The other three points usually result in accidents at or near junctions, where drivers either fail to see a cyclist altogether or they are driving too fast to react in time or they act without giving thought to your speed.
The Accident Locations
These accidents are the most common at or near junctions, where either the driver emerges into the path of a cyclist, turn across the path of a cyclist, rear-end a cyclist, open a door onto a cyclist, make sudden lane changes without considering the path of a cyclist, failing to give way to a cyclist and in the worst case, cutting off a cyclist completely and leaving the cyclist with nowhere to go apart from into the side of a vehicle.
By understanding that all of these scenarios can happen and where they may happen, you can adjust your riding accordingly and hopefully avoid an accident altogether. Of course, you shouldn’t have to change your riding style to simply survive but finding a safe middle ground and meeting the other road users half way is the safest option at the moment.
Learn To Share The Road
Learning how to share the road is the first step towards a cycle safe road environment; although it’s interesting and fun to see drivers named and shamed on the internet, it doesn’t put cyclists in a good light. As a cyclist, you should help to promote the activity by showing that it’s a safe and worthwhile thing to do, even if there are risk factors; the more cyclists that can be found on the road, the better for the cycling cause. It’s not up to individual cyclists and drivers to change but for the country as a whole; by encouraging more riders to get on the road, the government will begin to see the benefits and add more cycle friendly routes and services and drivers will eventually realize that cyclists are there and that they’re there to stay.