The number of cyclists seriously injured on roads in Leeds has risen by nearly 50 per cent over the past 10 years, new figures show.
Data released by Leeds City Council under the Freedom of Information Act show that a total of 329 cyclists were injured in Leeds last year, up from 206 in 2004 - a rise of 60 per cent in a decade.
Of this number, 49 cyclists were left with serious injuries after accidents in the city in 2013.
And with more cyclists taking to the city’s roads than ever before, many fear this casualty list will continue to soar.
Paul Osborne, Yorkshire director for cycling charity Sustrans said the figures were unacceptable. He said: “The number of accidents is obviously something that needs to be addressed. You would expect them to increase if cycling numbers are up but clearly it’s unacceptable.”
He said work such as the £29m City Connect project - for a cycling superhighway between east Leeds and Bradford - will be an “icon of good practice”, creating Dutch-style infrastructure along a busy traffic corridor.
But he also called for slower speed limits, more driver training and enforcement of speed limits and motorists’ behaviour.
Lizzie Reather, chairwoman of Leeds Cycling Campaign, called for the government to address the need for better infrastructure.
She said: “Given that local and national government has been encouraging people to walk and cycle more, there’s been a disconnection between their encouragement and investment.” She said England was also “long overdue” joining most other EU countries where a legal system of ‘presumed liability’ assumes the most vulnerable road user is not at fault, unless proved otherwise. She said: “This puts responsibility on people who have the potential to cause most harm, making them more safe and considerate to other road users. This would be a real step forward for this country.”
Campaigners say the call for greater investment in cycling is becoming more urgent as popularity continues to grow in the wake of the Tour de France,
The Valley Striders’ Cycling Club in north Leeds said its membership has tripled over the past year - from 40 to 120.
Co-founder Andy Stoneman said: “Cycling has really taken off and the momentum hasn’t slowed down yet. We have three or four new members every week consistently.”
Jane Bedford McLaren, senior associate at JMW Solicitors, who published the figures, called the Leeds accident rate increase “alarming” and said cyclists need to be at the “very heart of plans” for infrastructure upgrades.
A spokesman for Leeds City Council said they are determined to improve the city’s existing cycling infrastructure in the wake of the Tour de France.
He said a range of projects will help such as more road safety training in schools, extending the Core Cycle Network, improving the Leeds-Shipley towpath and City Connect.
“Road safety is of the utmost importance and the council is firmly committed to doing everything it can to ensure the safety of all road users is the highest priority and remains at the forefront of all our highways planning.”