Is cycling in Britain getting safer? Cyclist fatalities at lowest level for 30 years

Findings show 24% drop in rate of cyclist fatalities per billion miles cycled in 2022 compared to pre-pandemic levels

A cyclist using a cycle lane in London
(Image credit: Getty Images)

New analysis from Cycling UK has shown that the number of people killed while cycling - per billion miles - on British roads fell by nearly a quarter last year (24%) compared with pre-pandemic levels.

Figures released on Thursday by the Department for Transport on road traffic estimates for Great Britain show that the number of miles travelled by people on bikes totalled 3.9 billion. According to Cycling UK, this represents a 12% increase from an average of 3.5 billion miles per year between 2015 and 2019.

Provisional road casualty figures published back in May showed that there were 85 cyclists killed on British roads in 2022, the lowest number of fatalities since 1993. This was a 15% reduction from an average of 100 fatalities per year between 2015-2019, the closest comparable years after the pandemic.

According to Cycling UK, this is significant as it enables the charity to calculate the rate of people killed while cycling per billion miles travelled which it says is the best way to see if cycling on British roads is growing safer.

In 2022, 22 people were killed while cycling per billion miles cycled compared to an average of 29 over 2015 – 2019, a 24% reduction.

Cycling UK says that a number of road safety measures - including liveable neighbourhoods and updates to the Highway Code - may be part of the significant decline. However, it believes that more government action and investment is needed to ensure this does not become simply a statistical anomaly. 

The charity’s chief executive Sarah Mitchell said: "These figures prove the tragic death toll on our roads isn't inevitable. They show the Government could save hundreds of lives and prevent thousands of devastating injuries by taking more action to reduce road danger.

“Proving cause and effect is always difficult, but over the last two years a number of measures have been introduced to make roads safer, such as an updated Highway Code, wider roll out of 20mph zones, and interventions to reduce through traffic in residential areas. It is likely a combination of these contributed to last year’s reduction in cyclist deaths.”

“Despite making up less than 2% of all non-motorway traffic on our roads, people cycling are still over-represented in the fatalities and injuries on our roads. Action can make a difference, which is why Cycling UK wants to see the Government reverse cuts to cycling and walking infrastructure investment.

"This infrastructure keeps people safe and saves lives but the cuts threaten to do exactly the opposite.”

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