Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Road Accidents and Safety Statistics

Each year the Department for Transport issue a publication: Reported Road Casualties in Great Britain:

In 2014 the figures were:
Killed 1,775
Seriously injured 22,807
KSI (Killed or Seriously Injured) 24,582
Slightly injured 169,895
All casualties 194,477

What counts as a reported road casualty? "All accidents that were reported to the police and occurred on a public highway involving at least one motor vehicle, horse rider or pedal cyclist, and where at least one person was injured are included."

If a motorcyclist misjudges a bend, crashes into a wall and is injured sufficiently to need an ambulance s/he will be included - a motor vehicle was involved and a person was injured.

If a pedestrian trips on a kerb and is sufficiently injured to need an ambulance s/he will not be included as no motor vehicle, horse rider or pedal cyclist was involved. Similarly two pedestrians colliding resulting in injury or death won't be included.

The Report goes into considerable detail about who was killed or injured. Here's an example:

What I can't find is the chart showing what other party, if any was involved.

I know that the 446 pedestrians who were killed in road accidents in 2014 were in a collision with a motor vehicle, horse rider or pedal cyclist - did 400 die in a collision with a horse and rider, 40 with a cycle and rider, and 6 with a motor vehicle and driver/rider? I know these people collided with something under the control of another person, because if they tripped and died or collided with another pedestrian and died  they won't be included, but  I can't see that detail in the report.

Of the car occupants, how many were killed in a collision with a horse rider or cyclist?

Were the pedal cyclists killed in collisions with pedestrians and cyclists mainly, or with motor vehicles? Or did they die from falling off their cycles with no other vehicle involved?

I'm sure the stats are somewhere in the report, but I haven't been able to find them and nor has Horace Champion. Can anyone help?

I'm trying to find out if it's safer for me to drive, cycle or walk - not in terms of safety to me, but in terms of safety to the population overall.

Thanks to Twitter and @jitensha_oni who found this spreadsheet which, from a quick look, appears to have the data for 2014 and earlier years too

Saturday, 24 October 2015

The Veteran-Cycle Club 60th Anniversary Autumn Cavalcade

@se1 kindly tweeted out a link today to a post on the LFGSS forum today about the Veteran-Cycle Club 60th Anniversary Autumn Cavalcade, setting off at 2pm from Herne Hill Velodrome to the Design Museum on the Thames near Tower Bridge. I met the ride in Burgess Park and here are a few photos I took along the way.

If any of the riders read this and would consider taking part in a short Festive Lights Ride in Lambeth on December 13th please contact me via

According to the LFGSS thread, the expectation was to have bicycles from 1850 to the present day, with the following taking part:
Dandy Horse, Velocipede, Ordinary, Tricycle, Transitional/Kangaroo, Bicyclette, Solid Tyre Safety
Pneumatic Safety, Early pneumatic tricycle/sociable, Pedersen, Early Roadster, Early Board Racer, Early Racing Tandem/triplet/quad/quin, 1930s Tourer, Touring Tandem (with side car?), Paratroop, Trike
Old black baker/butcher delivery bike, 1950s Lightweight, Old Moulton, Twinkie childs trike, Paper-boy's bike, Track Iron, 1970s Lightweight, Recumbent, Lotus Racer, Modern delivery bike, Family bike with trailer and child, Mountain Bike, BMX, Modern Moulton, Muscle bike, Modern Racer, Dutch/Danish roadster, Mud-spattered Cyclo-Cross, Fixie, Brompton

Quick spot of shopping en-route.

You can just get a trike through these bollards with a bit of backwards and forwards negotiation when dismounted

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Don't trust the car industry or the press

People and organisations who want people to walk and cycle more focus on providing safe places for people to walk and cycle. They wouldn't dream of encouraging humans to spray themselves in reflective paint so that drivers with headlights can see them even better.

What would be more ridiculous than spraying yourself in paint before going for a walk or a ride - such abnormal behaviour would be without doubt the sign of a failed safety system. 

Car manufacturers however want to sell cars; people choosing to walk or cycle reduces their sales, and Volvo has produced just that product - LifePaint - and is strongly promoting it to tie in with the clock change and fewer daylight hours. Volvo is selling the reflective paint through their car dealers with a supporting press campaign that makes big play of how many people are injured cycling.

The campaign shrieks the number of people injured while cycling in a year in the UK - over 19,000 - but doesn't balance this alarming figure with the government figures that give the wider context:

The total number of pedal cyclist casualties in road accidents in 2013 in Great Britain was 19,438 (16,186 of whom were only slightly injured; not breaking a bone or requiring a night in hospital)
The comparative numbers in 2013 for:
pedestrians: 24,033 (of whom 18,637 were slightly injured)
car occupants: 109,787 (of whom 101,361 were slightly injured)

Maybe cycling isn't so bad after all. But today's Swindon Advertiser puff piece for their local Volvo dealer, Johnson's Cars, and the paint takes scary statistics to another level:
LifePaint washes off and will not damage the colour or surface of material, and lasts more than a month during normal usage.
In 2013, 743 cyclists were killed on the roads and an estimated 48,000 were injured in accidents.
Matthew Coles, the general manager at Johnsons of Swindon, said: “On top of raising awareness about the number of cycling-related injuries happening on Swindon roads, Johnsons of Swindon realises that being environmentally friendly is more important than ever.”
Look at that clever 'raising awareness about the number of cycling-related injuries' - that'll make sure mum won't let her kids cycle to school and won't dream of cycling herself. Much safer to be in her metal box running over other kids she can't see using her headlights while zipping along, all because the stupid brats aren't sprayed in paint or fed Ready Brek.

Whoa now, hang on though - how has 19,000 injured now become 48,000. A previously invisible 29,000 injured cyclists have just come into sight? 743 killed! That's a shocking figure, especially compared with the government's figure of 109.

Has Volvo been spraying LifePaint over the government report to reveal a hitherto unseen layer of injured people? Volvo have got the magical ability to produce people out of thin air as Nikki Rooke, the head of corporate communications, events and sponsorship for Volvo Cars UK, explains in the article: “It’s about making the invisible, visible.”

Without spraying any LifePaint around, I can shine a headlight on the truth. Volvo, their dealership or the Swindon Advertiser decided to use the American statistics for 2013 in this PR guff.

Don't trust the car industry or the press.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Giving up on Quietways or making them Kidways?

Shortly after Quietways and the Central London Cycling Grid were first announced, I renamed them in my mind as Childways and the Kid Grid - at least in Lambeth.

In 2013 Lambeth Council formally adopted a new Cycle Strategy, setting out to be the 'most cycle friendly borough in London'.
Lambeth wants to encourage more cycling and believes that the only way to do this is to make cycling safe and attractive for a broader cross section of people. Anyone who wants to cycle should be able to – women, children, parents, older people – as happens in Denmark and the Netherlands. Our vision therefore is that:
Lambeth will be the most cycle-friendly borough in London where 1- 100 year olds feel safe enough to cycle.
No-one expects a one year old to cycle, but a mum will happily cycle with hers in the Netherlands, and so it is intended to be in Lambeth.

You would think that the Quietways are all about making this vision a reality - children cycling independently to school kind of stuff. But if you look at the promotional statement about Quietways, you'll find no mention of children.
Quietways will be a network of radial and orbital cycle routes throughout London. Linking key destinations, they will follow backstreet routes, through parks, along waterways or tree-lined streets.
The routes will overcome barriers to cycling, targeting less confident cyclists who want to use low-traffic routes, while also providing for existing cyclists who want to travel at a more gentle pace.
Each Quietway will provide a continuous route for cyclists and every London borough will benefit from the programme. This network will complement other cycling initiatives such as the Central London Cycling Grid, Cycle Superhighways and Mini-Hollands.
To develop the new, continuous cycle routes, new wayfinding, surface and junction improvements will be introduced and barriers, such as chicanes, will be removed.
 The truth, I fear, is that Quietways will be feeble things - minor tweaks on what we have now, because they have not been explicitly advertised as being intended for, and designed to be, safe and appealing routes for children to use.

I can see absolutely no point, in the 21st century, as we set out to manage climate change, obesity, population growth, air pollution and poverty, in designing and investing in infrastructure for cycling that isn't suitable for children as well as for adults.

Most of the designs I have seen for Quietways fail to achieve a significant amount of change. They are just tinkering around the edges. All sorts of guff will be spouted about 'gradual incremental change', and that's what you are going to get (if you are lucky) if you set out to design for the wishy-washy, weaselly-worded group 'less confident cyclists'.
Ironically, the latest versions of Cycling Superhighways, originally planned to be the preserve of 14+ commuters, are now designed to be kid safe

I've taught on-road cycling to kids in inner and central London for long enough to know that if we want children to cycle (for health, time-saving, fun or to save the planet) we need to create space where parents will happily let their kids cycle. If the Quietways won't deliver that then I think they're a waste of time and money.

How do we design streets for kids and motorists.

If the street will carry a volume, weight and/or speed of traffic that makes a parent afraid it needs cycle tracks. The long Rosendale Road in Lambeth, planned to be part of the Elephant and Castle to Crystal Palace Quietway, springs to mind here - it's plenty wide enough for tracks and motor traffic lanes, though some parking may need to be revised. The council have today announced that it is to remain a through road for traffic - no point closures permitted, so tracks seem to be the only child friendly option here.

Some short adjoining streets, meant for access to homes rather than as a connecting through-road for motor traffic, may currently be being used as rat-runs. If so then these are likely to benefit from banned turns or bollards to prevent motorists cutting through, while letting the kids and adults who live there drive in and out, and cycle and walk safely. The street will be quieter too. Access to homes and to connector roads such as Rosendale remains intact so there's no, or minimal, effect on residents' motoring journey times.

If a parent won't let their kid cycle around, and the kid doesn't think it's fun to cycle there themselves, then more needs to be done.

I think change along these lines on the Quietways is deliverable, but if there is no decision to explicitly design for children to cycle independently then we'll struggle to get anything of use achieved.

This photo shows a child cycling home independently from Rosendale Primary School on Rosendale Road, summer 2016.

Cycling short trips for educational visits in Lambeth

One of Lambeth's excellent primary schools has just tweeted about an educational visit some of their pupils have been on:

 Google estimates it takes about 15 minutes to walk from the school to the synagogue, or 5 minutes to cycle the 0.7 miles / 1.3 kms.
It would probably be no quicker to cycle than to walk this trip, given bike unlocking/locking time (by either mode I suspect it will take a primary school group longer than Google's estimate). However, having at least some of the pupils making some of these short trips by bike would be a good way to build more learning into the educational visit. By the time the pupils are in secondary school they could be cycling on school trips to the South Bank Centre or further afield.

As Lambeth aims to be the most cycle friendly borough in London, I'm looking for examples of educational trips that Lambeth school classes have made by cycle, or schools that would like to give it a go - maybe the council's sustainable travel team could arrange some marshals if needed. Travel to swimming lessons would seem to present an obvious opportunity.

Comments welcome below, or schools could ask their transport contact at the Council or cycle training provider for help.

Here's an interesting example. I don't know how the pupils in their first year of secondary school made their way to Streatham Ice Skating Rink (assuming that's where they went). It's 21 minutes by foot; 8 on a bicycle on relatively quiet streets:

Update 2
Henry Cavendish Year 6 pupils went to the London Connected Learning Centre to day - a perfect 2 mile, half-hour opportunity for some related cycle journey learning (and a ride through Clapham Common)

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Making sense of the Loughborough Junction trial

Within a triangle of A roads, in red above, Lambeth Council are undertaking a (potentially) six month trial of one big road filter - the blue blob above - supported by a few smaller ones. The main motor traffic restriction is at the base of Loughborough Road, a B road that bisects the red triangle of A roads. It is an appealing through-route for those coming north from the South Circular Road, via Croxted Road and Milkwood Road, and continuing north towards central London.
I want to emphasise that I am writing this as, relatively speaking, an outsider to this area, though I have cycled through every street in the area on several occasions in recent years. I very seldom cycle through mainly because I travel less in that direction than others, but also because there there isn't a convenient and intuitive route through here that is useful for me, not least due to the Patmos Road / Vassall Road / Langton Road one-way system (the black square above).

Additionally, until recently Loughborough Road was marred by having a painted cycle lane in the door zone of parked cars, which encouraged close passes and had the risk of dooring. When the road was resurfaced a couple of years ago the borough's Cycle Programme Manager took the opportunity to have the paint put back in a better place (tremendous cost efficiency!) and remove the centre line, which made the road more pleasant to cycle along.

I don't know how many of the primary age children at the playground in the photo above cycle along this road. Even though there is some traffic calming (humps and build outs), the width and straightness of this road means some motorists race along it, and there is often quite a lot of motor traffic passing through this area en-route to somewhere else.
The local Loughborough Junction Action Group worked up a plan to improve the area with Lambeth Council assisted by Lambeth based architectural practice DSDHA.

Following an area-wide consultation exercise PDF, public meetings, and a scrutiny review meeting by Councillors of the Cabinet member's decision, the Council is undertaking a six month trial restricting motor traffic access into and out of Coldharbour Lane, with the exception of buses, emergency vehicles and cyclists. An interim review was required after three months, now to be after eight weeks.

There is no doubt that this is a bold trial by Lambeth Council, given that Loughborough Road was/is a B road (CORRECTION - it turns out it isn't a B road, just a local street). The question, as I see it, is whether motorists from the south should continue to be able to cut through the triangle or should they be required to use the A roads?

A significant consideration should be the development of a lot of new housing (the Oval Quarter) to the north of the triangle. This is designated as low car ownership (as is the area in general), and has excellent public transport and walking and cycling potential. How much traffic should pass through here rather than on the A roads?

The traffic that historically has passed through the triangle now needs to find another route or another mode of travel.

In the first weeks it is clear that motorists used to coming up Milkwood Road will switch to Coldharbour Lane and increase the traffic on this A road, likely to increase congestion on a road that, like much of this area, has plenty of traffic already.

Over time motorists will decide whether this congestion is the best option for them or whether
a) to divert earlier, to Herne Hill / Denmark Hill to the east, or Tulse Hill / Effra Road / A23 to the west.
b) to switch to another mode of travel.

Local motorists also have decisions to make. While through traffic (and associated noise, pollution and risk) in the triangle will be reduced, residents have fewer options of routes to drive than previously (though everywhere remains accessible by car). This, as made clear by the Council during the consultation process, will increase some motor journey times. In particular Coldharbour Lane, pictured above, is likely to have more traffic, certainly in the short term.

Some may be able to, and choose to, alter some of their journey habits - for example, walking or cycling instead for short trips, which most car trips are, or altering their routes (for example, the emergency services may use the area inside the triangle over currently congested A roads, as they are allowed to). Given the continuing population growth (and potential congestion ensuing) and the health benefits of active travel, this is sensibly a desired change sought by the Council, It's a bit carrot and stick, but that tends to be the nature of change.

Public transport - buses in particular - are another important factor though, an essential aid to active travel (walk to the bus stop, take the bus with others, walk to your final destination). The Council need to be monitoring any bus delays and find ways to alleviate them.

A recent public meeting, social media and direct action has made it clear that a number of people resent the measures being trialed.

This doesn't necessarily mean the trial is wrong. The concerns people raise must be checked for validity. Tweaks may need to be made. There may have been some aspects that weren't as well promoted as would ideally be. It may be that residents are happy with the volume of motor traffic (increasing as London's population increases) and want no change, or they may work with the Council to find a better way of reducing traffic here.

What I like about this scheme, warts and all, is that it is a real, rather than a token effort by the Council, and that they worked with a local community organisation to improve things, and I applaud them for that. We expect our politicians to be mindful of the bigger picture, and this includes the need to substantially change travel habits in response to population growth, climate change, and public health needs.

I hope that the Council makes a balanced, considered decision on the back of a sufficiently long trial. If people don't think the current scheme is working then I very much hope they will propose alternative ways to reduce motor traffic in the area, because, like it or not, the status quo cannot be an option going forward.

If you live in, or travel through, the area please email your support or suggestions for improvement to the head of Lambeth's transport team,  

As I write this another blogger has just written about public consultations. His post is well worth a read