THE escalating cost of living could be putting people at risk of death or serious injury by forcing them onto bicycles in a city where the number of cyclists being injured is rising.
The use of bicycles in Hull is high compared to other British towns and cities, with about 8.5 per cent of the working population cycling to work, compared with about 2.5 per cent per cent outside London.
Overall cycle use in Hull has increased by two per cent over the three years to 2012 – which a cycling safety report has linked to the economic downturn.
It also warns that the number of cyclists being involved in accidents is rising.
The report, which will go before councillors next week, said: “The increase in traffic flows in Hull since 2008 is undoubtedly connected to the economic downturn, with more people choosing to cycle instead of using more expensive modes of transport.
“It is therefore likely that rising volumes of cycle traffic has led in part to an increase in the number of pedal cycle casualties.”
A cyclist died in an accident on Derringham roundabout earlier this year and two were killed in 2010. The total number of collisions in which cyclists were killed or injured is rising significantly year on year, the report says. There were 172 in 2010, 183 in 2011, and 203 last year.
Cyclists also account for nearly a fifth of all road user casualties in Hull, and a quarter of all accidents in which someone was killed or seriously injured.
A total of 89 per cent of cycling collisions and 91 per cent of the most serious cycling collisions, resulting in serious injury or death, occurred on stretches of road with a 30mph speed limit.
Most are also st staggered junctions or T-junctions and away from roundabouts. In 97 per cent of all collisions, another vehicle, usually a car, was involved.
But the figures offer some comfort for parents, with the number of casualties among children and young people decreasing, while the number of adults being hurt rises.
More male than female cyclists in the city were hurt, with young men aged between 16 and 25 being at the highest risk of being hurt, the figures suggest. Cyclists’ visibility, lights, or behaviour were contributory factors in 15 per cent of all cycling accidents.
The report credits primary schools’ use of the Department for Transport’s Bikeability scheme, which offers practical training, with the low level of accidents involving young cyclists.
The report suggests launching a campaign to make motorists more aware of cyclists. But Martin Key, campaigns manager at British Cycling, said a nationwide campaign was needed.
He told the Yorkshire Post: “Clearly, cycling is becoming a more and more popular way to get around and local authorities need to respond to that by prioritising it as a legitimate form of transport, including urgently tackling the most dangerous roads and junctions and banning HGVs that aren’t fitted with the latest safety features.
“We have to do a better job of looking after each other on the roads.
“That includes significant investment in a nationwide cyclist awareness campaign rather than a few posters in a handful of cities.
“This is about changing the culture of how people get around, making cycling a more attractive and safer option for millions of people across Britain.”
A report from the London School of Economics two years ago said cycling generated nearly £3bn a year for the UK economy.
The report also showed that regular cyclists take 7.4 sick days per year, compared with 8.7 for non-cyclists, saving around £128m through reduced absenteeism, with projected savings of £2bn over the next 10 years.
Another survey described Hull as the “cycling capital of the UK”.
A debate on cycling safety was sparked earlier this month after five cyclists were killed in just nine days in London.