There have been plenty of articles written about the dangers if cycling on Britain’s roads (I should know; I’ve written most of them!) so it is pleasing to be able to produce one that says that researchers at University College in London have produced figures that say that young people are safer cycling than driving.
Using data drawn from hospital admissions and deaths in England between 2007 and 2009 for pedestrians, drivers and cyclists, they have somehow shown that young male adults aged between 17 and 20 are almost 5 times more likely to face injury or death driving a car. They have produced this by combining the data with other information drawn from the National Travel Survey over the same period of time and, with a lot of juggling, mathematic formulas and calculator work, they have concurred that “the health benefits of cycling are much greater than the risk of fatality.”
Dr Jennifer Mindell, the lead author on the study, said: “An individual who cycles one hour a day for 40 years would cover about 180,000km whilst accumulating only a one in 250 chance of fatal injury.”
So, just who are at risk?
Dr Mindell continued: “What we found is that risks were similar for men aged between 21 and 49 for all three modes of transport and for female pedestrians and drivers aged 21 and 69 years. However, we found that for young male cyclists between 17 and 20 years of age, cycling was markedly safer than travelling by car.”
Maybe it would be best for the government to perhaps ban young men from driving until they are 21 – for their own safety obviously – but let them ride bikes. At the same time, if we are talking about the highest risk groups for the three categories, then we need to stop men aged over 70 cycling and women aged over 70 walking (especially with those tartan shopping trollies they all use, smashing into your ankles!) In fact, fatality rates were generally higher for men than women throughout.
It wouldn’t be a survey about cycling without comparing the data from the UK with that of the Netherlands – home of the bike lover extraordinaire, or so we believe. And it probably won’t surprise you to know that the data said exactly the same when it comes to young males aged 17-20.
Maybe that’s the answer to all the problems. Just make sure that every nightclub has a cycle park attached to it and bob’s your uncle; less death on the roads. A bit of a problem getting off with a girl and offering her a lift home (Do you ride tandem?) but I’m sure the youth of today will work their way around that!