A cyclist’s point of view

Philip Circus’ latest rant about cycling fires, as usual for him, very wide of the mark. In it he makes several startling statements that are factually incorrect and potentially very damaging.

He quotes figures on the numbers of pedestrians killed by cyclists – ten from 2005-09 - saying that the readers will not be remotely surprised. What he neglected to mention, and which readers may also not be surprised to hear, is that over that same period drivers of motor vehicles knocked down and killed 3,053 pedestrians, seriously injuring a further 33,506. Even accounting for the fact that cyclists represent just two per cent of trips, the danger to pedestrians from drivers is far, far greater.

Mr Circus goes on to raise the case of Rhiannon Bennett, one of the ten killed in collision with a cyclist, but who was not (contrary to his assertion) hit on the pavement. Perhaps he and readers would also be interested to learn that over the 2005-09 period 68 pedestrians were killed on the pavement by drivers, but just two by cyclists.

He suggests that the penalty handed down to the cyclist who hit Rhiannon (a £2,200 fine) was far lower than that given to drivers who commit similar offences.

Once again, he is quite wrong, the vast majority of drivers who hit and kill other road users are found guilty of causing death by careless driving – and most of them usually receive a short driving ban, a community sentence and a few hundred pounds fine.

He repeats the accusation that cyclists disobey red lights – something many people notice – but casualty figures in London show that of the pedestrians injured by a vehicle that jumped a red light, 96 per cent involved a motor vehicle.

Finally, just to reconfirm his lack of ability to do research, he declares that ‘the Government must grasp the essential truth that mile for mile it’s more dangerous to be a pedestrian than it is a cyclist’. Once again, like so many, he speaks without the facts to back him up – in reality the risk of being killed while walking along the road is approximately the same (42 deaths per billion kms in 2009) as it is to cycle (38 deaths per billion kms in 2009).

Perhaps a little fact-checking is in order when he next attempts a column?

CHRISTOPHER PECK

Policy co-ordinator, CTC, the national cycling charity, Railton Road, Guildford