Cycle trauma in London
- Over the last 10 years, there has been an observed increase of nearly 400% in the number of cyclists being brought to the Royal London Hospital who die or are seriously injured. Notwithstanding the relative increase in the number of cyclists, such high incidence of death and serious trauma is unacceptable (Royal London Hospital TARN Data).
- HGVs make up 4% of traffic in London but are involved in 53% of cyclist deaths (GLA, 2013).
- Junctions account for 20% of road space but are the sites of 75% of cyclist deaths (GLA, 2013).
Despite the statistics shown here, this data does not provide the granular level of detail that is required to allow researchers and those in local government to identify patterns that can inform injury prevention programmes. This data also does not tell us the long term impact of cycle related trauma or the costs associated with injuries that do not result in death.
Serious and life-changing injuries result in long-term costs to individuals, their families and society that are often unreported and overlooked. These include rates of return to work and whether people are able to resume usual activities of daily living, as well as the life-long nature and extent of the injuries. These all impact earning potential, psychological well-being and shatter numerous lives without any warning.
Through our investigations, we started to realise that although most cycling incidents are preventable, the relative risk factors are poorly understood, with the debate about cycle safety and cyclists’ behaviour being governed by speculation and politics rather than clear evidence. In addition, although death and injury from cycling is tragic, the overall benefits outweigh the risks for the majority of cyclists and therefore cycling should be promoted – but there is a need to protect those who take up this healthy lifestyle.
The Barts Charity Safe Cycling Appeal launched in January 2014 with Bespoke as the flagship project. The Bespoke project aims to tackle the issue of poor data collection across the entire injury pyramid. The first of its kind, the Bespoke project will produce entirely novel insights in order to increase the effectiveness of injury prevention strategies and enable people to make informed and measured choices about cycling in London.
Bicycle use in London is rising and there are a number of high profile campaigns encouraging Londoners to get on their bikes. This is a laudable aim which helps to improve the city we live in by reducing pollution and also makes Londoners healthier and more active, with all the associated benefits of exercise.