Road casualty stats show cycle infrastructure investment ‘must not be limited to towns and cities’

Cycling UK has responded to the latest road casualty statistics published by the DfT, which reveal an increase in cyclist fatalities on rural A roads, with 43% more cyclists dying on these roads for every mile cycled in 2020 compared to 2019.

On urban A roads, by contrast, the fatality rate fell by 10%. Overall, 89 of the 141 cyclists (63%) killed last year died on rural roads. This compares to 60% in 2019, and 54% on average between 2015 and 2019.

Keir Gallagher, Cycling UK’s campaigns manager, said: “This raises serious questions about the provision of safe routes for cycling in rural areas, especially direct routes into towns, which people are likely to rely on for commuting and other essential journeys. It also raises questions about whether a default speed limit of 60mph on winding and often relatively narrow rural roads is appropriate.

“It’s clear from these figures that we urgently need more investment in safe space for cycling across the country, and rural communities must not be left behind.”

The total of 141 cyclists killed – a revision of the previously reported figure of 140 – represents a 41% increase on the previous year, albeit against a background of a sharp increase in cycling during the COVID-19 lockdown. Official figures show the total distance cycled in 2020 was just over five billion miles: 46% higher than in 2019.

Gallagher said: “Statisticians might expect this increase of cyclist casualties at the same time as more people took to their bikes during lockdown, but 141 deaths is still 141 tragedies that could have been avoided.

“The DfT statistics also show that motor traffic was 21% lower in 2020 than in 2019. With traffic now returning to pre-pandemic levels, the need for safe cycling space is even more urgent.”

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