Alarming jump in cycling casualties in Central London

At last week’s Transport Committee, we were able to talk about the alarming increase in cycling casualities in Cental London boroughs like City of Westminster, Camden, Islington as revealed by TFL figures recently issues for 2011. When seeing the figures first time l wondered could the different approaches to the London Cycle network(LCN) by boroughs in Central London be a contributing factor in the alarming increase of cycle casualities in London shown in the TfL figures recently released?

As the figures show, we have over 20 per cent increases in cycling casualities in central London boroughs like Westminster, Camden and Islington which under TfL definitions are statistically significant given we have over 200 instances. So something else is clearly happening other then the volume of cyclists having increased.

As someone who only cycles in central London, l have been aware that the different boroughs have different approaches to the London Cycle Network(LCN).  For example in the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea (RBKC) we have a shared space approach, best and possibly only illustrated in Exhibition Rd. While in the City of Westminster, its very much soft surface segregation with cycle lanes but not much else. While in Camden its hard surface segregation with hard kerbs along with the cycle lanes. As you move between the boroughs the different approaches are very obvious to any regular cyclist.

Interestingly if you look at the figures for cyclist casualties in the RBKC  its actually dropped by 5 per cent, though we need to be reminded that the number of casualty events are less then 200, its not statistically significant.

So it appears in the central London context, while clearly we have more cyclists on the roads, its in the boroughs where we have some sort of segregation via lanes we have  the highest increases of cycling casualities. The exception to the rule is in RBKC where with its shared space notion it has actually gone down though the figures here are considered not statistically significant. So it will be interesting to see how the debate on what is the best way to offer protection to cyclists on the roads goes with these figures in the near future.

This all the while when the biggest increases in cycling casualities are actually in the surburbs as places like Waltham Forest and Croydon where we see alarming increases of around 50 per cent. But again these figures are seen not to be statistically significant. Time will tell us if that is the case but in the meantime, both boroughs need to look at the specific cases to see if a pattern is emerging and get dealt with through local measures.

So in merely posing a question about whether the different approaches to the London Cycle network(LCN) by boroughs in Central London maybe another contributing factor in the alarming increase of cycle casualities in London, l have yet to come to a statistically significant conclusion.