Cycling in South Yorkshire is becoming safer - but riders are still taking risks, say safety campaigners in Sheffield.
“On my ride to work I see cycling commuters hugging the kerb, never looking behind, and riding up the inside of lorries,” said Carl Beresford, of city cycle training co-operative, Pedal Ready. “It’s not surprising that those cyclists feel at risk.”
Latest figures for cycling casualties indicate one fatality in South Yorkshire last year, as there was in 2011, both in Doncaster. Numbers of serious accidents went up from 50 to 59, while ‘slight’ accidents dropped from 266 to 235.
Taking into account the increase in cycling activity, the local casualty rate continues to fall, says South Yorkshire Safer Roads Partnership.
At the same time, concern is being expressed nationally about a 10% increase in the number of cyclists killed, and another rise in the number of seriously injuries. Local road safety figures show that the greatest cause of cyclist injuries are ‘right of way violations’ by other vehicles, usually by drivers not seeing cyclists and turning into them. Adult cyclists can be vulnerable from drivers overtaking too closely.
“Cycling can be safe, and individual cyclist safety is increasing in Sheffield, but there are still a lot of people who think the opposite, and that there’s nothing you can do about that perceived danger,” said council transport planner Paul Sullivan.
“But in Sheffield every new cycle commuter can get free professional training to make sure they know how to get along with other road users. After the training they all say they feel safer and more confident.”
Carl Beresford said commuter cyclists should not feel at risk. “Drivers are cyclists and cyclists are drivers, so it really isn’t a battle out there. We show cycle commuters how careful positioning and observation can help drivers give you time and space so we all get around the city safely.”
He added: “We know that men under the age of 40 feature more highly in the cycling injury figures in South Yorkshire, but if you tell some men they need cycle skills training they’ll think you’re insulting their intelligence or manhood.”
The Government-funded Sheffield CycleBoost scheme offers free road skills, cycling confidence and maintenance training and free bike loans to companies and organisations.