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Times reveals ‘Britain’s cycling black spots’

Friday 21st August 2015

The Times has published an article outlining “Britain’s most dangerous road junctions” based on analysis which shows the “accident black spots where cyclists are being injured”.

A series of interactive maps, produced by Esri UK and The Times’ digital team, show junctions in London, Cambridge and Devon with the largest number of collisions last year.

The maps, published as part of The Times’ Cities Fit for Cycling campaign, show that 75% of all cycling injuries recorded last year happened within 30 metres of a junction or roundabout.

The worst area was a junction close to the site of the London Olympics in east London where eight cyclists were injured, with another two recorded casualties only yards away.

The analysis shows that six of the top eight junctions with the highest collision rates were in London — in Deptford, Clapham, Peckham, Shoreditch and Stepney Green.

A roundabout in Cambridge was the second worst black spot with seven accidents last year. The only rural black spot was on the A3072 near Beaworthy in Devon where cyclists were injured in six collisions last year.

Roger Geffen, campaigns and policy director at CTC, told The Times it was wrong to restrict improvements to junctions with recorded accidents.

He said: “These maps highlight the crying need to give cyclists greater safety and priority, particularly at junctions.

“However, junctions with large numbers of cycling injuries aren’t the most ‘dangerous’, they may simply be well used by cyclists. Equally, a lethal edge-of-town junction with a motorway might have no cycling injuries because nobody dreams of cycling there. Still, both types will need safety improvements if cycling is to become a safe activity for everyone.”

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Thanks Jeremy. I'd got the UK data for a few years up to 2009 and just found this newer report and was looking to add it to my collection of data (whilst planing a LEJoG). I instantly homed in on the Beaworthy anomaly (I play with data as part of my daily job) and thought 'that must've been a group accident' and struggled to find any news item, probably due to it was fundamentally a cyclist at fault.
Paul Devon

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Bob, mixing might be right in some low speed urban scenarios, but at higher speeds it is not a "safe system" if the energies in a crash result in almost inevitable death. I don't agree that cyclists are peds on bikes....but if I did agree, would you advocate peds walking down a 60mph dual carriageway?
Pete, Liverpool

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Perhaps this passage in the Times was just another propaganda piece or set up to gain sympathy for cyclists and their, or someone's, endeavours to support more cycling on our streets or at least colour opinion in the support of the plight of cyclists.

Some will not be happy until there is total separation of traffic away from cyclists and do not accept the other option of integration. After all we have segregated motorised vehicle from pedestrians for decades and a cyclist is only a pedestrian on a bike.
Bob Craven Lancs...Space is Safe Campaigner

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Actually spread between two roundabouts.
Peter, Cambridge

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Jeremy - great reply. The modern world of sound-bites has its uses, but can give rise to less than informed viewpoints and knee-jerk reactions by politicians. Your reply was excellent and more polite than I might have managed
peter, liverpool

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Probably worth posting my reply to the journalist who wrote the article. There's considerable work to be done on improving cycle safety at junctions, so let's be sure we are looking in the right places...

I read todays article http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/public/cyclesafety/article4532280.ece with interest. Cycling is a shared interest it seems and so is cyclist safety – that and a Devon mention guaranteed my attention!

In the article you suggest that “The only rural blackspot was on the A3072 near Beaworthy in Devon where cyclists were injured in six accidents last year.” This manages to be both factually incorrect and a missed opportunity for a good news story all in one. The six accidents at the Devon location were in fact six riders injured in one accident. This involved a rider in a cycle race colliding with a car and then tipping into the rest of the pack. Cyclist loss of control, driver not at fault.

The good news is that if this is Britain’s only rural collision cluster site for cyclists then Britain has no rural collision cluster sites for cyclists – a fact worth celebrating I think because that type of track record is what gives cycle clubs, race organisers, family groups and lone riders the confidence to use a rural network ready to be exploited by all non-motorised modes.

I think then the report's reference to ‘analysis’ is perhaps overstating what appears to have been a simple number count - and that’s a shame because the data is considerable; the problem is complex and the prize is worth the struggle. We do have problems with cycle casualties in Devon and it would be disingenuous and inappropriate to claim otherwise. But we are committed to promoting, investing in, and reducing the level of risk for cyclists and cycle journey infrastructure - and to undertake that work without considerable effort in working up a reliable evidence base would be a mistake.

The Cities fit for Cycling Campaign is laudable and comes with every good intention - and it would be unfortunate to see any aspect of that diminished by an over-simplified approach to the data. The data is published in part to enable lobbyists, interest groups and individuals exercise their right of challenge to the approach taken by organizations like Devon County Council, to test whether our commitment and approach is equal to the problem. The data can be daunting, and the rest of the evidence base is equally considerable, but where the challenge comes from a source that has the resources to undertake a meaningful and robust analysis I do think it is reasonable to expect that to be done.

All good wishes for the continuing campaign.
Jeremy, Devon

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