Recent media headlines suggest one in three cyclists had accidents last year. This is misleading, as about 1 in one thousand cyclists is seriously injured or killed per year, and cycling’s overall safety is comparable to other modes of transport.
Cycling Advocates’ Network spokesperson Stephen McKernon says “Headlines about research on cycling accidents are entirely misleading and play on people's fears. The research shows cycling is safer when brightly-coloured safety clothing is used, and is based only on cyclists who trained for the Wattyl Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge. The research should not be taken out of context, and it is wrong to say that a third of cyclists have had accidents, based only on the injuries of a small group training for a race."
Mr Mckernon adds, “Ministry of Transport injury data and SPARC physical activity data show only 1 in one thousand cyclists is seriously injured or killed per year. This compares to about 5 in one thousand motor vehicle drivers and passengers, and on this basis, cycling would be judged safer.
Injury rates in transport are more usually based on reported injuries per kilometres travelled, and the injury rate for all New Zealand cyclists per year would be comparable to the injury rate for all motorists (drivers plus passengers). Cycling is relatively safe overall, and portraying it as dangerous in this way is completely incorrect.”
Mr McKernon says “Cyclists want to share the road in safety, and it is important to support safe cycling with accurate reporting of research results, such as those showing the high value of cyclists' safety clothing.
It is also important to provide accurate reports of cycling's safety if more people are to recognise its benefits. Cycling is healthy, cheap, enjoyable, relatively safe, and among the ten most popular physical activities in New Zealand. It also helps reduce traffic congestion, pollution, and work days lost to illness.”
There are over 750,000 cyclists in New Zealand per year and about 750 serious cycling injuries and deaths. There are about 2.5 million motor vehicles and about 14,000 serious driving injuries and deaths.