Cycle safety on TfL’s roads has flatlined since 2004

When challenged about the death and injury of cyclists on London’s streets, the mayor or TfL’s press machine come out with statements like

“Cycling in London is safer now than it was a decade ago.” – Boris Johnson

“The overall number of cyclist KSIs [killed or seriously injured] on London’s roads has fallen by almost a fifth since the mid-to-late 1990s (18 per cent).” – TfL press release

Safer streets? An extra traffic lanes and no advanced stop box in the Blackfriars plans

Both these statements are true. However, they are somewhat misleading.

I have spent some time “reverse engineering” the data about TfL’s own road network (the TLRN) from a November 2010 London Road Safety unit report (p7), using the GetData Graph Digitizer (h/t Drawing Rings). I have indexed the 2010 full year figures by mapping existing indexed values to actual figures from here, here and here.

With this new data set, it is possible to calculate the KSI rate on the TLRN. This is the number of cyclists who are killed or seriously injured in each year, divided by the total cyclists that year. This is what it looks like (setting the year 2000 value to 100):

Not a graph you'll find in a TfL report

The reason that cycling is safer than it was a decade ago is because, for some reason, there was a significant reduction in danger between 2000 and 2004. Since then, TfL have achieved nothing.

Actually, it is worse than having achieved nothing. Research has shown that as the number of cyclists increases, the number of accidents decreases, as driver awareness of cyclists improves, as does driver behaviour as they are increasingly likely to be cyclists themselves.

What TfL have managed to do since 2004 is to preside over a road network so dangerous that it actually cancels out any safety benefit of the 170% increase in people riding bikes on the TLRN:

With modelling which treats people on bikes as having the value of 0.2 people in cars, is this any wonder?

If TfL really want people to “catch up with the bicycle”, they have got to stop prioritising motor vehicle convenience at the expense of cycle safety.

If you would like to use the data I’ve put together, email me at the address on my About page and I will send it to you.
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5 Responses to “Cycle safety on TfL’s roads has flatlined since 2004”

  1. Tommi Says:

    You can get the numbers directly from TfL without needing reverse engineer anything if you check the fact sheets in http://www.tfl.gov.uk/corporate/projectsandschemes/roadsandpublicspaces/2840.aspx (all of them)

    2004 was the safest year for cycling, but the number of injuries has been fairly steadily increasing ever since. Number of fatalities has been decreasing, but it was never much above 20 to begin with.

  2. Futilitarian Says:

    Thanks. Unless I’m missing something, those fact sheets seem to be for all roads? I’m just looking at the TLRN here.

  3. Tom Says:

    Fine as far as it goes, but very few roads are TLRN, that’s just the busiest ones. It’s not clear to me that you can necessarily extrapolate to the whole city from TLRN figures.

    Mind you, I *do* have the figures for London, per borough, and it’s gone up 25% since 2003, but that’s all casualties, not KSI*. What would be useful would be a per-borough annual breakdown of cyclist casualties ranked by fatal/serious/slight, but I don’t have that.

    * The trend recently has been for big increases in slight casualties – 9% in 2010 for cyclists. Serious casualties also increased 9%. Of course, there are far more slight casualties so a 1% rise is a lot more people injured in accidents.

  4. Jim Says:

    Of course you can’t extrapolate from the TLRN to the whole city, but if the KSI rate on TLRN roads is diverging from the rate on non-main roads then that itself is quite interesting. Unfortunately I’m not sure you can make that comparison with the data available.

  5. Futilitarian Says:

    I wasn’t trying to suggest you can extrapolate from the TLRN to the whole of London, but I see how it might come across that way. I was just trying to point that TfL needs to get its own house in order. Bragging about London’s roads being less dangerous than 15 years ago doesn’t wash if the ones you manage haven’t got any better in seven years.

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