Blog highlights gender imbalance in cycling fatalities

12.00 | 10 November 2015 | | 5 comments

A blog in the Guardian has highlighted a significant gender imbalance in the number of male and female cyclists killed each year.

Under the heading ‘How are cyclists most likely to die?’ Helen Pidd, the Guardian’s north of England editor, analyses figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS)*. The data shows that in 2014, 88 cyclists were killed riding their bikes on roads in England and Wales – 73 men and 15 women.

The blog argues that the imbalance is primarily because more men cycle than women; census data from 2011 suggests men are twice as likely to commute to work by bike and the 2014 National Travel Survey revealed that males of all ages made more than three times as many cycle trips as females.

Interestingly, another recent study published in the British Medical Journal suggests that the lower casualty rate among female cyclists – and in other modes of transport – is because women tend to make more ‘conservative risk choices’ than men.

The Guardian blog also highlights than men are more likely to die simply by falling off their bikes than being hit by a truck: 20 male cyclists (and two female cyclists) died in a “non-collision transport incident”. That compares with 15 cyclists (nine men, six women) killed after “collision with heavy transport vehicle or bus”.

The blog also reveals that one male cyclist was killed when hit by a train, and two men, both aged 65+, after a “collision with pedestrian or animal”. Five men and one woman died following a “collision with fixed or stationary object”.

The ONS mortality statistics are based on details collected when deaths are certified and registered (unlike the DfT stats, which show more cyclists’ deaths).


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    What a brilliant world you live in Tim. I wish that other cyclists could read your remarks AND LEARN BY THEM.

    For a start the picture shown would probably be from an archive and not related to the article. The other thing is that many cyclists listen to their earphones just as if they were pedestrians and not on bikes. This I believe interferes with the general sounds around them and they need to know what’s happening when they change course, turn, overtake etc. Just as one would expect a car driver or motorcyclist to do. It may be that females are more cautious than their male counterparts and do these things but some male cyclists with perhaps more testosterone than good sense will no doubt do these things. All the things that, if they read the Highway Code, would make them aware of the dangers and responsibilities of riding a bike on the highway.

    I must admit to be with Duncan in some way as I would definitely be against a car driver or more so a motorcyclist who used the road with such little care for their own and other people’s safety.

    As I have said before anyone who encourages increased cycling or motorcycling for that matter is encouraging more deaths and injuries on our roads. I for one would fight for the rights of motorcyclists as you do in your profession Tim but to encourage someone to ride a bike is like asking for trouble until we can have a level playing field.

    Bob Craven Lancs….Space is Safe Campaigner
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    Duncan, you know we have had this discussion before, the fact you invite comment suggests you didn’t listen last time and the tone of you posts suggests you won’t this time either.

    I don’t think you would assess the qualities of a motorcyclist or pilot from one still image. I can only conclude that you start from a disparaging position when it comes to cyclists. Your sarcastic remark about gifted sensory capability appears to confirm this.

    Cyclists do have additional sensory capability in the sense that their hearing is not obscured by their own engine noise or the insulation of a car interior or crash helmet. This is not a gift but a matter of circumstance. Combined with good observation this provides ample information for a confident cyclist to manoeuvre responsibly. Some may choose to use a mirror to supplement this, but personally I don’t see the need.

    As Rod rightly says, the question remains as to what practical use it is to see that you are about to be struck if there is little you can do with the information.

    Tim Philpot
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    What’s behind them is “other cyclists”. As a cyclist I have always found it most useful to look ahead of me to see where I am going.

    USA has a wide range of cycling provision ranging from the sublime in places like Portland to the non-existent. Hence any comparison is not useful, especially when the source is not referenced.

    Surely the fact that only in 25% of fatalities was the front of the vehicle hitting the rear of the cycle an indication that most collisions are when the front of the vehicle hits the side or front of the cyclist.

    I think we have had this discussion about cyclists keeping a look out for approaching vehicles before, (and I presume you mean motor vehicles rather than other cyclists) and several cyclists have asked exactly what you would expect the cyclist to do in the event of seeing a wayward motor vehicle approaching from behind. The options are fairly limited.

    Rod King, 20’s Plenty for Us
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    Our American friends discovered the chilling statistic that 40% of their cyclist fatalities were due to them being hit from behind. Even our own ROSPA reports that in a quarter of fatal cyclist accidents in the UK, the front of the vehicle hit the rear of the bicycle.

    It seems a shame then that every cyclist in the picture that accompanies this article seems to be completely oblivious to what’s behind them. Maybe cyclists are gifted with some sensory capability that is denied to the rest of us and which gives them the ability to see behind them, but I kind of doubt it. Maybe a cyclist on this forum might explain why in the face of such a significant threat from behind they seem to take so little action to ameliorate it.

    Duncan MacKillop. No surprise – No accident.
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    On the other hand, when it comes to four-wheeled motorised transport, observed risky/careless driving is just as likely to be a female driver as a male driver – less evidence of ‘conservative risk choices’ here, than on two-wheels.

    Hugh Jones, Cheshire
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