Campaign groups are calling for a “radical” new approach to cycling in Lancaster after serious injuries to cyclists doubled over the past four years.
More people than ever in Lancaster are choosing to leave the car at home in favour of the “fitter, healthier, cheaper” option, but as the trend grows so too do the number of serious collisions between motorists and cyclists.
New figures, obtained through a freedom of information request made by Lancaster Guardian to Lancashire Police, reveal for the first time the cycling injury hotspots in the city and the age groups most succeptible to collisions on the road.
While slight injury incidents have decreased from 41 a year in 2009 to 29 in 2013, there has been a steady increase in serious injuries, up from four in 2009 to 10 last year.
In 2013 two people died while cycling in Lancaster - in East Road and Cable Street - the first cycling related deaths in four years.
This year cyclist Joan Behar died after colliding with a bus in North Road.
King Street, Scotforth Road and Chapel Street rank highest for collisions involving cyclists, while those aged between 17 and 24 are most likely to be involved in a collision.
The detailed information on each incident reveals many motorists leave the scene without exchanging details or even fail to stop following serious collisions.
Paul Stubbins, from Lancaster cycling campaign group Dynamo said: “Dynamo is pressing the council for both segregated cycling and safe, shared use on the roads.
“We’re calling for the council to be radical and to take some pride in Lancaster being a cycling city.
“It will hurt a bit, with cycle lanes both sides on some of the major roads meaning no car parking, but traffic will run smoother, and everyone will get about more efficiently.”
The figures show that many collisions are caused by motorists turning into the path of cyclists on cycle lanes.
In particular, figures show that this is a common occurence at the BP filling station in Scotforth Road, with motorists turning left into the forecourt and colliding with cyclists in the cycle path.
Many incidents occur on the Pointer Roundabout, but King Street has the highest number of collisions - and a substantial number are down to passengers opening doors into the path of cyclists.
Lancashire Police road policing manager, Ch Insp Debbie Howard said: “All road users need to be aware of each other, and as a police force, we jointly launched a campaign with Lancashire County Council last November to raise awareness of cyclists on the road in particular, and we remain fully committed to making Lancashire’s roads as safe as possible for all road users.”
Let cyclists use the pedestrian zone
Paul Stubbins, from cycling group Dynamo, is campaigning to allow cyclists to ride in Lancaster city centre pedestrian zones at certain times of the day.
He said: “Dynamo believes that as more journeys are made by bike, so cycling becoming a normal choice, the roads should become safer as people switch from using cars and drivers become more conscious of cyclists around them.
“If cycling is permitted in the city centre, at the same times as delivery vehicles have access, this would also give cyclists more options in order to negotiate the town centre safely.
“There is a real urgency about these proposals, both to reduce the incidents as well as to broaden access to cycling to enhance health and for sustainable living.
“We urge the public to lend us their support by signing the petitions on the Lancashire City Council e-petitions website and by contacting their local Councillor and asking them to help facilitate safe local travel by foot and by bike when making planning decisions.”
Paul said that Dynamo is campaigning for a new safe cycleway between Heysham and Lancaster, as well as cycle lanes between Lancaster University and the city centre.
Could Trixi mirrors be the answer we need?
Trixi mirrors - large circular mirrors attached to traffic lights - are due to go up at three junctions on the northbound side of the one way system in Lancaster.
The council says this simple system should help reduce the number of incidents involving motorists turning left into the path of cyclists.
Earlier this year, a circular cycle route using minor roads, cycle paths and canal linking to destinations such as the hospital and railway station was installed to help make people aware of the alternative cycle routes to the A6 in the city centre.
Paul Binks, Lancashire County Council’s road and transport safety manager, said that the numbers of cyclists killed and injured on Lancashire’s roads had been falling steadily year on year, until 2013 when there was a marked increase from 68 to 100.
“Our cycle counters show that the numbers of people cycling increased by almost 17 per cent the same year, which could be expected to have an impact on the figures due to more people cycling more miles per year,” he said.
“We’re already focused on improving safety for cyclists, and continue to improve junctions, crossings and other facilities as old infrastructure is replaced or new infrastructure designed.”
“Improving safety for cyclists is a priority, and we’re currently studying patterns of accidents involving cyclists across the county to prioritise proposals for new safety schemes and ways of engaging with cyclists and motorists to promote cycle safety.”