A rise in the popularity of cycling coupled with inadequate roads and poor road sense have contributed to a dramatic rise in the number of cyclists killed or seriously injured on the roads, it is claimed.
Motoring and cycling groups expressed concern as the number of cyclists killed or seriously hurt rose 27 per cent to 690 in the first part of 2014, according to Government estimates.
And as more people take up cycling in the wake of the Grand Depart of the Tour de France in Leeds and Yorkshire, it is feared that the casualty list may rise.
Overall there were 380 deaths on British roads in the first three months of this year, 13 per cent more than in the January-March period last year.
The number of cyclists suffering slight injuries rocketed by 43 per cent to 3,830, prompting fears that inexperienced cyclists may be adding to the injury toll.
British Cycling’s campaigns manager, Martin Key, said: “While cycling is statistically safer than walking, we know that much more could be done to make Britain’s roads accommodating for people on bikes. The fact is that our roads are not designed with cycling in mind and these latest road casualty figures are a reflection of that.
“Without adequate and sustained funding for cycling of at least £10 per head, coupled with real political leadership and national targets, Britain will continue to fall far short of great cycling countries like Holland, Germany and Denmark.”
Cyclist Mark Thoburn, of Chevin Cycles in Otley, said he believed drivers’ awareness had improved but some on two wheels lacked the “sixth sense” necessary to ride safely.
Rachel Bromley, of transport charity Sustrans, said: “The sharp rise in casualties will only serve to further deter people from walking and cycling and promote a growing fear among parents that children are safer inside the car. It’s time to bite the bullet and make dedicated funding available to transform local walking and cycling routes and introduce lower traffic speeds.”