How are cyclists most likely to die?

Nearly 90 cyclists were killed riding their bikes in England and Wales last year, fascinating to see this article in The Guardian about how you are most likely to have an issue whilst cycling?

Cycling commuter

Would you have guessed that 70 people died in England and Wales in 2014 from falling off a ladder? That 15 fell off a cliff and yet just one man died falling out of a tree last year? Five women died from “pain and other conditions associated with female genital organs and menstrual cycle”; nine people passed away from a “foreign body entering into or through eye or natural orifice”. The list of ways to die, detailed in Office for National Statistics (ONS) annual mortality data published, goes on.

But as a cyclist, I was most interested in looking at how cyclists died. The stats make sobering reading.

In 2014, 88 cyclists were killed riding their bikes on roads in England and Wales. That’s 73 men and 15 women. Why the gender imbalance? Mostly because more men still cycle than women. Census data from 2011 suggests men are twice as likely to commute to work by bike (3.9% of male workers compared with 1.6% of female workers). And in 2014, males of all ages made over three times as many cycle trips as females (28 to nine) according to the National Travel Survey.

Given the amount of media attention devoted to cyclist deaths by HGVs, particularly in London, it’s interesting to see that men, at least, are more likely to die just falling off their bikes than being hit by a truck: 20 male cyclists (and two female cyclists) died in a “non-collision transport incident”. That compares with 15 cyclists (nine men, six women) killed after “collision with heavy transport vehicle or bus”.

One man was killed on his bike when hit by a train; two men, both aged 65+, after “collision with pedestrian or animal”. Five men and one woman died following “collision with fixed or stationary object”.

Four pedestrians, all aged 70 or over, were killed after being hit by a cyclist, incidentally.

The ONS mortality statistics are based on details collected when deaths are certified and registered (unlike the Department for Transport stats, which show more deaths).

Fewer cyclists died in 2014 than 2013, according to the ONS, when 100 people died (89 men and 11 women) were killed while out on their bikes. With these relatively small numbers, it’s hard to say just using the ONS data whether our roads have become more dangerous, year-on-year.

But statistics released in September by the Department for Transport showed an upward trend in road casualties and in cyclists’ serious injuries. Serious injuries among all road users increased by 5% and by 8.2% among cyclists. With the exception of 2012-2013, the number of seriously injured cyclists has increased every year since a low of 2,174 in 2004, according to the pressure group CTC.

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