831 lost cyclists found?

This article was published in 2001, in Newsletter 36.

Every March, Cambridgeshire County Council produces a series of Plans and Reports about Traffic, Accidents, Safety and Road Conditions. These are excellent reports that detail many statistics and plans. Unfortunately the ‘Network Management Plan’ has yet to be published this year as there are some changes which are yet to be approved, so look for comments on this report in the next Newsletter.

Traffic Monitoring Report 2000

Following last year’s Traffic Monitoring Report the Campaign passed some comments to the County. These were specifically about lack of monitoring on some paths across the Cambridge Radial Cordon away from main roads. Following these comments, when the routes into the city were monitored one day last autumn, six additional points were included. This resulted in a further 831 cycle trips being monitored, bringing the total to 5733. Note that there are more people entering the City of Cambridge from the surrounding countryside each day by bicycle than enter via Park and Ride.


There are also now sites in and around the city with ‘automatic’ cycle counting loops. Although there were initially problems with the reliability of these devices, they should in future years provide better data about short and long term changes in cycle use. We welcome these additions which should allow the contribution cyclists make to the well-being of our city more easily quantified.

Joint Road Accident Data Report

This report is some 50% larger than previous editions but that does not mean there have been 50% more accidents.

In the past we have been concerned that the way cycle accidents are presented in County statistics implies that cycling in Cambridge is more dangerous than in other areas. Last year this changed, but better data on cycle use (see above) is still required before accident rates for cyclists can be considered as reliable as those for motor vehicles

More worrying is data which appears for the first time. A table(12.23) for LBTAs (Land Based Transport Accidents) in Cambridgeshire shows that of some 300 hospital admissions for pedal cyclists, only some 50 were for ‘collisions with car, pick-up truck or van’, with some 200 being ‘non-collision transport accidents’. We are aware of incidents to cyclists caused by poor road and path design or conditions and these are not normally recorded as RTAs (Road Traffic Accidents) – there is no legal obligation to record an accident that does not involve motor vehicles even if it results in serious injury or death. Perhaps the locations of these incidents should be fed into the County’s Accident Database?

Road Safety Plan: Annual Review 2001

9.81 …Guidelines for Cycle Audit and Review were published in October 1998, jointly by DETR and Institute of Highways and Transportation. The guidelines suggest a systematic process for ensuring that the needs of cyclists are considered in the design and implementation of new highways and traffic schemes.
9.82 Cycle audits can be considered as analogous to safety audits insofar as both involve regimes for ensuring that particular issues or interests are fully considered in the planning, design and construction process. However, the Guidelines go one step further by also providing a means of reviewing existing highway and cycle networks. The County Council welcomes publication of the guidelines and is presently considering how they might be applied within Cambridgeshire as part of a review of the cycling strategy.

These two paragraphs appeared in identical form in the previous year. It is now over three years since this important document was published. One of the authors (Mike Sharpe) was a former Director of Transportation at the County Council. It is very disappointing that this methodology is still not being used to assess cycle provision in Cambridgeshire.

On a more positive note, ‘minor’ schemes for accident reduction are clearly worthwhile. The economic return in saved accident costs for such schemes under £25,000 is around 1000%. This is an order of magnitude greater than that for larger schemes. The cost of a slight injury accident is deemed to be £14,540, that of a serious injury to be £146,890, whilst a fatality is £1,253,140.

Jim Chisholm