Is Britain Lagging Behind On Road Safety?

New OECD Report Suggests Britain's Roads Could Be More Accommodating For Cyclists

25.11.2013

There is plenty of room for improvement when it comes to making Britain's roads safer for cyclists, a new report has suggested.

According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the UK could learn a lot from other nations - such as the Netherlands.

Despite the introduction of new initiatives such as the "cycle superhighway" in east London, the OECD stated that Britain is lagging behind some countries in terms of road safety.

Although cyclist death rates have fallen by 17 per cent in the past ten years, the Sunday Times reports, this figure is dwarfed by other nations.

Finland and Sweden have reduced cyclist fatalities by 64 per cent and 55 per cent respectively, while New Zealand's statistics have improved by 53 per cent over the same period.

Denmark, France and Belgium were all ahead of the UK too.

The study was published shortly after a spate of cyclist deaths were reported in London.

Six people lost their lives in the space of just 13 days in the English capital, prompting calls for new measures to be introduced, such as blind-spot cameras on heavy goods vehicles.

There has been a significant increase in the number of cyclists in Britain in the past few years, but campaigners are worried the recent events in London could put people off using bikes.

The government has been criticised for cutting police patrols and some feel the penalties handed to careless drivers who have caused a collision fail to act as a deterrent.

Roger Geffen, campaign and policy director at the Cyclists' Touring Club, told the news provider the police need to be able to conduct thorough investigations following an incident involving a cyclist.

He added that the UK must also do more than attempt to emulate other countries.

"It's not a simple matter of just copying Dutch infrastructure and expecting it to work as it would in Holland. There, motorists will stop at a junction and let cyclists go first even if they've got a green light," he was quoted as saying.

Expert Opinion
Numerous incidents in recent weeks, particularly the number of fatal crashes in London, have shown that the issue of cycling safety in the UK remains a very important one which desperately needs to be examined and addressed.

"While figures in terms of deaths are moving in the right direction, the UK remains well behind other countries in terms of improving the situation in relation to road safety for cyclists.

"New approaches to improve standards have been suggested including the use of equipment and it is vital that serious consideration is given to each of these recommendations, as well as some examination of the measures used by other nations.

"Having seen first-hand the huge consequences that crashes can have on victims and their families, we are huge advocates of the need for everything possible to be done to improve the safety of all types of road users and pedestrians."
Stephen Nye, Partner