In carrying out analysis into the ‘safety in numbers’ concept, the Motorcycle Action Group (MAG) says it has uncovered some ‘uncomfortable truths’ about the safety of motorcyclists in London.
MAG carried out the analysis to look for evidence to support the ‘widely accepted belief’ that there is a safety in numbers effect applicable to motorcyclists as much as cyclists. The theory is that higher numbers of cyclists or motorcyclists on the road actually results in reduced risk of collisions due to increased awareness among other road users.
MAG says that while the analysis support the safety in numbers theory, it also highlights ‘stark contrasts’ between PTW casualty trends in London and other regions.
Colin Brown, MAG’s director of campaigns and political engagement, said: “We analysed at a regional and local authority level the proportion of total casualties in comparison with the prevalence of the two vulnerable road user groups in the transport mix, looking at varying levels of modal share in varying locations as well as changes in casualty share as modal share has changed over time.
“The most startling revelation from the research turned out not to be in the safety in numbers results, which can be seen, but actually in the stark contrasts between trends in London compared to other regions.
“It is clear that over time the prevalence of motorcycles and pedal cycles has been very similar in all areas except London where the prevalence of pedal cycles is increasing at a faster rate than for motorcycles.
“The shocking thing, however, is that the proportion of casualties is similar and generally converging throughout the country except – again – for London where the proportions are very clearly diverging, with cycling becoming safer while motorcycling is becoming less safe.”
Lembit Opik, MAG’s Director of Communications & Public Affairs (left), is calling for Transport for London (TfL) to investigate the reasons for the higher risks faced by London’s motorcyclists.
Lembit Opik said: “TfL has adopted a Vision Zero aspiration to eliminate all road deaths, but this evidence shows that there is a clear imbalance between these two transport modes (cycling and motorcycling), and it’s getting worse.
“It cannot be right to continually improve safety for one road user group whilst ignoring or, as we are now seeing, increasing the risks for another group.
“TfL claims to want to reduce all road casualties, so why are we not seeing improvements in the statistics for motorcyclists? We need TfL to investigate and to take action to reverse this trend immediately.”