THERE have been reports of an increase in road incidents involving cyclists, and an investigation has been launched following a report which revealed that the number of cyclists killed or seriously injured had gone up nearly 90 per cent in Richmondshire.
A North Yorkshire County Council meeting has heard it was linked to the recent upsurge in cycling as a result of the Tour de France’s visit to Yorkshire, but this isn’t strictly true as figures had been on the increase for a few years before the 2014 event.
In one of the Hull museums dealing with transport, there’s an interesting fact dealing with road usage and fatalities; in 1938 there were just short of two million vehicles on the UK roads and 6,648 people were killed. Since 1949 the number of vehicles has increased tenfold, and there are now 38 million vehicles on our roads, and 1,792 deaths in 2017.
However, there does not appear to be statistics for the number of cyclists using the roads.
Nationally 102 cyclists were killed in 2016, a drop of nine per cent on the previous five-year average. But if North Yorkshire has claimed the lives of 11 per cent of that total, it must generally be down to the appalling and extremely dangerous state of the county roads, as much as a rise in actual cyclists.
The council appears to be oblivious to damage to vehicles and goes to extreme lengths through its insurers to deny any liability through defective road surfaces; potholes, sunken gullies, broken and collapsing verges are just a nuisance and costly inconvenience to motorists.
However, to cyclists (and motorcyclists), they are a death trap.
I, and many other cyclists, are generally motorists as well, and are therefore contributing to highway maintenance through taxation.
But I do not have any great urge to kill myself through suddenly finding a 200-300mm drop off the edge of the road through a decades-long refusal to carry out planned preventative maintenance.
There is little point in a highways area manager advising the council’s highways committee that “there is work going on to see if there is anything different we can do from a highways authority perspective with the authority trying to learn where there could be cycling safety issues”.
The have been told and they do nothing.