Boris Johnson admits to getting cycling accident statistics massively wrong

London mayor’s claim that two-thirds of bad cycling accidents were due to cyclist law-breaking is proved to be utterly false. Where’s the apology?

It all began in May when London’s mayor, Boris Johnson, one of the more famous cyclists in the country,produced the startling statistic that in 62% of accidents in the capital where a cyclist was killed or serious injured this was found to be down to the rider breaking the law. It was questioned by cycling groups and it turned out Johnson was repeating some hearsay he’d been told at a public meeting.

That was alarming enough, but Johnson is infamously light on detail and lazy at mastering briefs, so it wasn’t perhaps the greatest surprise. What followed was even worse.

Green London Assembly member Jenny Jones submitted a written question which, last last month, finally got a reply. Here’s Johnson’s statement:

I asked Transport for London to look into a statistic that I was told about during my election campaign. Its own statistics and research suggest this is not the case in London and I am pleased to be able to set the record straight on this.

Astonishingly, the TFL figures show that in accidents were a cyclist was killed or badly hurt the cyclist was presumed to have committed an offence in just 6% of cases. The vehicle driver was assumed to have done so 56% of the time while 39% of the time it wasn’t clear.  This information was passed to Johnson before the Olympics, TfL said.

What can we learn from this?  Johnson was very, very wrong. Far from cyclists being to blame almost two-thirds of the time, they’re actually almost a tenth as likely as drivers to have committed an offence.

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