The dangers of cycling on some of Leeds’ busiest roads have been revealed as new figures show the riskiest spots for pedal bikers in the city.
Statistics, which are released by the Yorkshire Evening Post after a Freedom of Information request, show that 1,667 accidents involving bikers happened from January 2012 up to April of this year.
Four fatal, 282 serious and 1,381 slight accidents were recorded in that time amid a huge surge in cycling across the city.
The most dangerous road for bikers was the A660, a 10-mile stretch from the city centre through Headingley and up to Otley, which topped the chart for the number of incidents each year from 2012 at 182.
And the worst period was 2014, with 350 accidents recorded in the same year that the Tour de France set off from The Headrow.
One cyclist who was knocked off his bike a year ago, tearing the tendons in his shoulder, said he comes close to having another accident or receives abuse from drivers angered by the “maelstrom of modern life” around once a month.
Campaigners have now called for more infrastructure to be put in place to ensure the risks are addressed.
Fran Parnell, a spokewoman for national road safety charity Brake, said: “The statistics for crashes involving cyclists in Leeds are shocking – four families have suffered the pain of losing a loved one, and 282 people have suffered life-changing injuries.
“Everybody has the right to walk or cycle to school, to work or around their local community without fearing for their life.
“We appeal to the city council to investigate the cause of the collisions on the A660 in particular, reducing speed limits, improving visibility at junctions and installing cycling infrastructure as necessary to make the road safer. We also ask drivers to look out for cyclists and other vulnerable road users, and keep their speed down.”
The average number of cyclists taking to the road on weekdays in Leeds has soared from below 600 in 2004 to a peak of nearly 1,900 in 2015, before settling at around 1,700 last year.
And the A660 consistently racked up the highest number of accidents across the city from 2012 until early 2017, with 182 recorded during that time. This includes 28 serious accidents.
Serious accidents are categorised as those causing injuries for which a person goes to hospital as an in patient, or those who suffer fractures, concussion, internal injuries, crushings, burns, severe cuts, severe general shock requiring medical treatment and injuries causing death 30 or more days after the incident.
Paul Knights, a member of Otley Cycle Club, was riding on the road through Bramhope in June 2016 when a driver opened her door and knocked him to ground, leaving him unconscious in the street.
Police and an ambulance arrived at scene before he was taken to Leeds General Infirmary. Suffering damage to his shoulder tendons, he needed three weeks off work at Highways England.
He recently had an MRI scan and is still suffering problems. The former squash regular can no longer play because of the injury.
His wife Alison and daughter Millie, nine, also fear for his safety.
“My daughter was in tears when she came to see me in hospital,” he said.
“When my wife said, ‘Daddy’s been knocked off his bike’, she was really, really worried. She waits for the call that something has happened.”
Mr Knights, 43, of Pool Road, added: “Certainly once a month I’m having to slam on the brakes because of someone cutting in front of me, someone coming out of a side street or someone chucking things at me.”
Drivers have shouted abuse at Mr Knights while he is out riding, he said.
“I feel the sense of risk. It’s a lovely ride all the way up to the urban area. The sheer numbers of pedestrians and cars. There are so many hazards and pitfalls.”
Speaking about why he thinks drivers are angered by cyclists, he said: “It’s people’s frustration at the congestion. These things don’t happen on the quieter roads. These things happen when we are fighting for space. It’s there where the aggression grows.
“It’s almost like the maelstrom of modern life where people are angry and want to get to work and I’m the victim, but I’m just getting to work.”
But Mr Knights said he will not give up cycling, believing it to be the most convenient mode of transport in Leeds and a great leisure pursuit which affords him “freedom” to clear his head during his commute home.
Although he acknowledges that cyclists need to behave according to the rules of the road, and sees them not doing so often, he thinks that infrastructure is the way to alleviate the pressures.
The A65, which stretches from the city centre to Menston, taking in Kirkstall Road, Abbey Road, Rawdon, Guiseley and Horsforth, is the second most dangerous in Leeds with 136 accidents since 2012.
And third is the A61, which includes the city centre loop and Scott Hall Road out towards Harrogate, with 73 incidents.
These are followed by the A58, A6120, A653, B6157, A64, A650 and A6110, which had 198 accidents recorded between them.