The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) is urging for safer roads for cyclists, greater provision in cyclist training and better driver awareness, following the publication of annual casualty statistics which show an alarming rise in cyclist deaths.
The annual road casualty figures for Great Britain in 2012, published by the Department for Transport (DfT), show that overall road deaths fell by 8% to 1,754 in 2012.
This continues the trend in recent years of substantial reductions in road deaths.
One of the reasons for this trend has been the recession, which may have resulted in less traffic and slower driving in a bid to keep fuel consumption down.
However, the number of pedal cyclists killed rose by 10% to 118 and the number of seriously injured cyclists rose, for the eighth year in a row, to 3,222.
The increase in deaths was mainly among the young with the number of child cyclists killed doubling from six in 2011 to 13 in 2012, although the number of seriously injured fell by a fifth.
The DfT report also highlights that the increased popularity of cycling on Great Britain’s roads since 2004, may have contributed to a general rise in the number of cyclists killed or seriously injured.
RoSPA warns that as the economy now seems to be improving, we need to make sure this is not accompanied by an increase in road deaths caused by rising traffic and more cycling and walking.
Kevin Clinton, head of road safety at RoSPA, said: “The good news of a large drop in road deaths in 2012 is marred by an increase in cyclist deaths, especially among child cyclists which is particularly worrying.
“We need to redouble our efforts to make sure that cyclist deaths and injuries are reduced as the popularity of cycling increases.
“It is vital to create a coherent safe network for cyclists by introducing appropriate cycle lanes, linking quieter streets, developing routes alongside rivers, canals and through parks where possible, and introducing more 20mph schemes in our towns and cities.
“As well as boosting the provision of cyclist training and trying to make the roads safer for cyclists, we also need to hammer home the message to drivers to keep their speed down, watch out for cyclists and give them enough room on the road.”
Overall, there were 61 children killed on the roads in 2012, one more than in 2011.
The number of seriously injured children fell by 6% to 2,211 in 2012.
At 17,251, the overall number of child casualties (killed, seriously injured and slightly injured) dropped by 11% between 2011 and 2012 and was the lowest total since records started in 1979.
There were 420 pedestrian deaths in 2012, a fall of 7% on the previous year, however the number of seriously injured pedestrians rose by 2% to 5,559.
The number of motorcyclists killed fell by 9% to 328 in 2012, while the number seriously injured decreased by 5% to 5,000, but the report noted that motorcycle traffic also fell by 2% during 2012.