Wiggins’ crash brings cycle safety to forefront

Published in the Edinburgh Journal 21/11/12

Three high profile cycling accidents in the past week have led to calls for road safety to be taken seriously. Last week, Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins was the first, knocked off his bike in Lancashire by a van. The Olympic gold medallist walked away with a bruised lung, fractured rib and a dislocated finger. The next morning, former pro cyclist and British Cycling head coach Shane Sutton was in a bike crash, diagnosed with bleeding on the brain and a fractured cheek.Then on Sunday Mark Cavendish collided with a van whilst training in Tuscany. He tweeted: “Went & hit the back of a car that slammed on today in training. Wasn’t ideal. Apart from a bruised arm, I’m relatively ok. If anyone cares.”

The reaction from the press has been overwhelming. Stories have been springing up everywhere about cyclists’ safety and the need for reform, but as usual it takes a famous person to get hurt before the government, the media and the people stand up and take action.

These accidents are happening too often and too many people are getting killed. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents’ figures show that 19,215 cyclists were either killed or injured on the road in 2011. Perhaps surprisingly, the figures also show that over 80 per cent of cycle accidents happen in daylight. 75 per cent happen at or near a road junction. This makes some of the advice given to cyclists regarding light-reflecting clothing not irrelevent, but due with caution. The government’s scheme for children and parents called ‘Bikebility’ is a step in the right direction, promoting cycle safety and discussing biking issues.

Figures from Transport Scotland disclose that there was a 13 per cent jump in the number of cyclists suffering serious injuries in 2011 when compared with 2010.

Now, after these two high profile crashes, change is beginning to bloom. British Cycling has called on the government “to put cycling at the heart of transport policy to ensure cycle safety.”

They say cycle safety needs to be “built into the design of all new roads, junctions and transport projects, rather than being an afterthought.”

The crux of the problem is the legal system’s lenient approach on sentencing for motorists at fault in accidents with cyclists. People’s mindset needs to change.

Awareness is a word too often thrown around but here it must be pushed upon the world.

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