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Road safety and cycling – what the evidence shows

21 July 2023

Cycling Scotland have produced an analysis of injury collision data published in Reported Road Casualties Scotland. This is the main source of injury collision data which is collected by the police from collisions attended or reported to them. It’s important to note that, although road safety data is improving, due to under-reporting and a new police collision recording system, data trends on serious injuries must be treated with caution.

The official data helps to challenge some of the myths about people on bikes, particularly about the causes of collisions and how to reduce the likelihood or severity of the collisions.

In collisions between bikes and motor vehicles, the person driving the vehicle is more often at fault than the person riding the bike. Wearing dark clothing or failing to use lights are not common causes attributed to people cycling when involved in a collision. Poor driving or riding standards are a much more significant cause of collisions, and it would therefore be ineffective to prioritise action primarily on what someone cycling wears, rather than improving road user behaviour.

Key points

  • In collisions between bikes and vehicles, the person driving the vehicle is more often at fault (73% of factors contributing to a collision are assigned to the driver).
  • Collisions resulting in serious injury to people cycling happen in every part of Scotland
  • Wearing dark clothing while cycling is not a common cause of serious collisions
  • Engineering, education and enforcement measures are critical to reducing fatal and serious injuries in collisions involving people cycling.

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