Serious cycling accidents are on rise

Cragg Vale
Cragg Vale

Shocking figures reveal the perils facing cyclists on Calderdale’s roads.

A report gained through a freedom of information request shows that serious cycling accidents - where cyclists have either been killed or seriously injured - in Calderdale have soared over the past two years, increasing by 21 per cent.

The increase in cycling has been obvious since Calderdale hosted the Tour de France earlier this year with thousands of cycling fanatics taking to the roads on two wheels, instead of four.

Nathan Brennan, sales manager of Cycle Gear, Halifax, has noticed the increase of cyclists on the roads this year, since the legacy of the Grand Depart.

“There is a significantly larger amount of people on the roads than there used to be.

“I think it is both the fault of drivers and cyclists. There is always glass and grit in the cycling lanes, left from road works which is a problem but cyclists must also use their lights more often so they are visible in low light.”

National cycling accident statistics increased during the first three months of the year.

Slight injuries to cyclists have increased by 8.5 per cent and the overall injury count has increased by 10 per cent.

Evidence also suggests that more incidents occur at junctions and commonly involve males aged 30 to 59 years old.

Ann Rutherford, chairwoman of Brighouse Road Safety Committee, said: “Drivers are very impatient and don’t give cyclists any room. A cyclist can easily be knocked off their bike.”

Mrs Rutherford used to cycle on the roads but said she wouldn’t now.

“I think it is too scary. It is the volume of cars and traffic on the roads,” Ann added.

“However, motorists pay tax and have to pass tests before they can go on the road but cyclists don’t at all.

“One thing that needs to happen is that cyclists need to wear more reflective gear and use a static light when cycling at night.”

Nationwide, there were 380 deaths on British roads in the first three months of this year - 13 per cent more than in the same period last year.

Slight injuries also soared around the country by 43 per cent and fears were expressed that inexperienced cyclists may be adding to the increasing toll.

These numbers are expected to rise again when the 2014 figures are released, with the popularity in cycling leading on from the Grand Depart.

The Council’s Director of Public Health, Paul Butcher, said: “Our plan to introduce 20mph limits in all residential areas in Calderdale by 2017 aims to make streets safe and pleasant for everyone. We need to reduce the number and seriousness of road casualties in Calderdale, and the 20mph campaign is part of this.

“All international evidence points out that the health benefits of cycling far outweigh the risks. We are working with local cycle groups to promote cycling as a safer and attractive activity.”

Calderdale Council’s Director of Economy and Environment, Ian Gray, added: “We are keen for people to cycle in Calderdale and it’s great that the Tour de France has inspired lots more people to get out and about on their bikes. Calderdale’s cycle casualty figures are a lot lower than the rest of West Yorkshire, but we’re not complacent and will continue to take action to make Calderdale a safe and fun place to cycle.

“One of the ways we do this is through our Bikeability cycle training for young people across the borough, which builds cycling skills and confidence from a young age. It teaches them how to stay safe on the roads, including dealing with hazards.

“We have recently upgraded parts of Calderdale’s national cycle network Route 66, and plans to improve roads for cyclists are continually being looked into. Although these improvements are important, we urge new or out-of-practice cyclists to take up free adult cycle training through the project, and to get involved in the expert-led Sky Rides that we run with British Cycling to increase cycling confidence. We have some of the best mountain biking and road cycling on offer and we encourage people to explore Calderdale –