Is the boom in UK cycling causing more personal injury claims? It may well be, as figures from insurance provider MORE TH>N show that the proportion of car insurance claims it received for bodily injury involving cyclists, pedestrians and motorcyclists has doubled in recent months, increasing from one in 10 claims to around one in five.
This trend is likely due to there being more cyclists on the road, with 1.3 million Brits having bought a bike during lockdown to keep fit and avoid public transport in response to Covid-19.
MORE TH>N is warning that we could see even more car accidents involving cyclists over the coming months, with the number of cars and cyclists on the road likely to grow further. Car usage is getting back to normal levels, while more people are being encouraged to take up cycling.
Recently the government launched the ‘Fix Your Bike’ voucher scheme as part of its strategy to tackle obesity, making £50 repair vouchers available in England to encourage cycling and walking. The scheme has been hugely popular so far with the first batch of vouchers crashing the Energy Saving Trust website.
As more cars and cyclists are now sharing the road, MORE TH>N is urging drivers and cyclists to apply extra caution and leave each other enough space to avoid injury.
Gareth Davies, Head of Car Insurance at MORE TH>N, commented;
“Bike sales have boomed during lockdown as Brits are looking to stay active and avoid public transport. But unfortunately, our data shows this has prompted an increase in car insurance claims for injured cyclists.
“As drivers, it’s really important to take extra precautions now that there are more cyclists on the road. Indicate clearly and give yourself and cyclists plenty of space to manoeuvre so that, if anything unexpected occurs, there is more margin for error. Junctions and blind corners are also hot spots when it comes to accidents with cyclists, so be extra careful and slow down when navigating these tricky turns.
“For cyclists, please wear a helmet and bright or reflective clothing – it could save your life. It is also important to use cycle lanes where possible and be extra wary of the cars around you, giving them plenty of space for overtaking where it is safe to do so. Cyclists undertaking or passing motorists on the left-hand side can also cause accidents, so try to avoid that as much as possible.”
Despite announcing investment in infrastructure, the UK government and Councils have delivered a patchwork of painted-on cycle lanes, plus some new Dutch style junctions and roundabouts. Great, except there isn’t a Dutch style cycling/traffic culture in the UK, which means it’s only a matter of time before a cyclist is seriously injured, or killed, by a driver who believes they have right of way across the pretty painted lanes on the road.
Until we truly segregate cylists from motorised vehicles, build secure storage and parking facilities in town and city centres, thefts and accidents will rise. Reality check: Most people like commuting by bike for about 6 months of the year in the UK, when the weather is reasonably warm. They don’t like riding a bike to work in winter, although many men aged 20-45 do so through gritted teeth in London because the public transport alternative is arguably even less pleasant.
Trying to change British culture by calling for people to commute to and from work in the dark during November to February will not end well for the government. Not without separate cycleways, traffic light control to give them right of way at junctions and secure cycle garages near retail and office centres. That all adds up to billions in investment, with no guarantee that a significant minority of commuters will make the switch to two wheels – and make it stick as an integral part of their daily life.