The high profile case of Chris Froome OBE; British professional road racing cyclist, hit the headlines yesterday after his bike was 'rammed' by an impatient motorist in France.
The incident follows the death of Italian cyclist Michele Scarponi after he was involved in a collision with a van during a training ride earlier in April this year.
Human error is the main contributory factor involving cyclist collisions. Driver/rider error was the most frequently reported reason for the incident involving 73% of all reported accidents in 2014.
In collisions involving a cyclist and another vehicle, the most common key contributory factor recorded by the police is failure to look properly, especially at junctions.
Other common contributory factors attributed to drivers are poor turn/manoeuvre (in 17% of serious accidents involving a cyclist) or where a driver is careless, reckless or in a hurry.
Cyclists are more likely to suffer serious injuries when a driver is judged to be impaired by alcohol, exceeding the speed limit or travelling too fast for the conditions.
The most common vehicle involved in collisions with cyclists is a car or taxi, with the rider usually being hit by the front of the vehicle. In a quarter of fatal cycling accidents, the front of the vehicle hit the rear of the bicycle.
However, heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) present a particular danger for cyclists, especially in London where around 20% of cyclist fatalities occur involve an HGV. These often occur when an HGV is turning left at a junction and simply does not see the cyclist. About one quarter of accidents resulting in serious injury to a cyclist involved an HGV, bus or coach passing too close to the rider.
Earlier this year the 'too close for comfort' campaign run by Cycling UK was aimed at re educating people with the help of the police to stop dangerous overtaking of cyclists on the road. The Highway Code is vague on the issue, with Rule 163 telling drivers to “give motorcyclists, cyclists and horse riders at least as much room as you would when overtaking a car” and Rule 212 saying to “… give them [cyclists] plenty of room”. However most drivers lack the experience of what it’s like to ride a bike and what “plenty of room” might mean.
Other common causes are where a motorist does not judge correctly the speed of the cyclist and turns across their path.
With traffic volumes increasing and issues of air pollution, more and more cyclists are taking to the roads. As a motorist, we must therefore ensure that we give them plenty of room and exercise patience in order to reduce the number of cycling accidents on our roads.
Siobhan Thomas is an Associate at Moore Blatch specialising in serious injuries. Please call our freephone number 0800 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
There are no statistics for cyclists deliberately hurt by motorists, though 3,339 cyclists were killed or seriously injured on Britain’s streets in 2015. But Cycling UK, the membership and advocacy organisation, notes that while the risk of deaths per billion miles travelled is dropping as slightly more people start cycling, combine deaths with serious injuries over the same distance and there has been an increase.