Cycle deaths / casualties in the UK

A look at statistics for fatalities and casualties on the roads.

The past decade has seen a divergence between the rate of accidents for cycle users versus other types of users. Overall, road fatalities and casualties are falling, but cycle users are seeing a rise in the number of serious casualties

In the past 15 years, there has been a trend for cycling fatalities to fluctuate between 100 and 120. Serious casualties have seen a 31% increase.

Number of killed or seriously injured cyclists 2000-2013
Reported accidents –

2013 Overall Fatalities

Total fatalities

Significant fall in overall fatalities on UK roads.


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How safe is cycling? – stats on cycle casualties

November was a bad month for cycle casualties, with several tragic accidents reported in the press.

These are some statistics produced by the Department of Transport for road traffic accidents, which helps give a perspective on the dangers of cycling on British roads. (Source: Sept 2013 D o T)

Fatal Accidents

Fatal accidents have been falling in the past few decades. In 2012, 118 cyclists were killed. This was higher than in 2011 when fatalities fell to 107. However, it is significantly lower than early 1980s, when it reached a peak of 350. This compares to:

  • 420 pedestrian fatalities
  • 328 motorcycle fatalities
  • 801 car occupant fatalities.


Fatalities and serious accidents

If we include all serious accidents in addition to fatalities, there has been a stronger upward trend since 2003.


Cycle accidents per miles cycled

If we look at cycle casualties per billion miles cycled, the situation looks less promising. There was a significant improvement in cycle rates in the 1980s. But, the increase in cycle rates since late 1990s appears not to have caused the hoped for ‘safety in numbers’ we might expect. This shows that cycle casualties per bn miles cycled is increasing in the past decade.



Relative risk of different forms of transport – Cycling vs Car vs Pedestrian vs Motorbike

These statistics show casualties per billion km travelled. They produce a slightly skewed figure in that car drivers will clock up many miles on motorways, which tend to have much lower accident rates per miles travelled, compared to rural and urban areas. Nevertheless, it still shows how much safer car journeys are compared to cycling or walking. Which is to be expected. In a car you are protected by crumple zones and a block of steel. Walking and cycling, you are not.

Casualties compared


Fatalities by mode of transport

Using fatalities, pedestrians have a slightly worse risk than cyclists.

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Cycling rates 2012/13

Cycling UK

According to the Department of Transport, The prevalence of cycling in England (at least once a month) reduced from 15.3% to 14.7% in the year to October 2013.

This decline in reported cycling rates is disappointing given cycling’s relatively high profile in the past couple of years. The fall in cycle rates could be attributed to several factors.

  • High profile accidents reported in media


Cycling casualties per bn km cycled have been increasing since 2008

  • Little change in cycling provision
  • End of recession and relatively lower petrol prices.


Most popular boroughs for cycling

Oxford is the second most popular borough for cycling, despite having no co-ordinated cycling infrastructure.

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