Leeds cyclists in danger

MORE cyclists in Leeds are being knocked off their bikes as people stop using cars to get to work.

In 2008 there were 222 recorded cycle casualties, 164 of them adults aged 20 to 59, a rise from 2007 (203 casualties, 138 of them aged 20-59).

A Leeds council's report shows that the adult casualties are mainly in commuting times.

The report said: "The rising total is associated with adults aged 20 to 59, whereas the number of child casualties is falling.

"The adult casualties are mainly associated with weekdays and 61 per cent of the week day casualties are clustered (in] commuting periods."

In October the council announced that it will spend 1.5m on the first stage of a Leeds-wide cycle network.

Andy Beck, chair of Leeds Cycle Action, said: "Quite clearly there is a vast increase in the number of cyclists taking to the roads so a similar increase in the number of injuries isn't unexpected.

"People are trying commuting and may have only ridden off-road and never had any cycle training. It maybe that they have not thought carefully about their route."

Mr Beck added: "I think that driver education is as equally important as educating cyclists.

"Evidence from other European countries shows that when drivers are used to and expect to have cyclists around them they will become more aware and watch out for them.

"A large number of drivers in Leeds have no experience of cyclists moving particularly fast in the carriageway."

He said that cyclists can make themselves more visible by having the correct lights on when it is dark and to also be assertive.

Mr Beck added: "Cyclists can also check out their routes when they cycle to work for the first time. They can ride the route on a Sunday when it is quiet and investigate a few alternatives that may be longer but avoid a particularly dangerous junction."

A spokesman for Leeds City Council said: "Our Bike Buddy scheme helps people plan their route and provide them with tips and skills for riding on our busy urban network.

"We are also developing the Leeds Core Cycle Network, providing routes on and off the roads.

"However, it is important to remember that although cyclists are vulnerable road users, in 2008 they made up just seven per cent of our total on road casualties in Leeds."

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