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
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):
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.