There have been more than 1,100 cycling casualties on Leeds roads in just three years
More must be done to reduce the number of deaths and injuries on Leeds roads, campaigners say, as new data reveals there were more than 1,100 rider casualties in just three years.
There have been 1,148 cycling casualties on the city's roads between 2016 - 2019, figures from the Department for Transport (DfT) analysed by the JPIMedia Data Unit reveal.
The total puts Leeds fifth out of 340 local authorities in England and Wales, behind only the London boroughs of Westminster, Southwark, Lambeth and Tower Hamlets.
By contrast, there were 565 casualties in nearby Sheffield over the same period.
When population is taken into account, Leeds comes joint 68th, with a casualty rate of 30 per 100,000 people.
Leeds cycling campaigner Rob Greenland said: "The numbers of people killed or seriously injured on Leeds roads is a real concern - and whilst figures may rise or fall slightly year on year it's clear that there are still way too many people who become victims of poor road design or poor driving."
In 2019 alone, there were 236 deaths on roads in Leeds, including two fatalities and 61 serious injuries.
Only incidents reported to police are included, while figures prior to 2016 cannot be compared as many police forces changed their definition of a serious injury.
The average age of casualty was 36 last year across England and Wales, with the vast majority of victims being men, and 102 cyclists lost their lives across the UK.
Cycling and walking - often grouped together under the term 'active travel' - have benefited from an increase in funding in recent months as the Government looks to encourage people who are looking for an alternative to public transport during the coronavirus pandemic.
The West Yorkshire Combined Authority has secured an additional £10.053 million from the Government’s Active Travel Fund to create more space for people to travel by bike and on foot, easing the pressure on public transport and relieving congestion.This new funding is in addition to the £2.5 million already secured in July 2020, with protected cycle lanes promised in Otley and Garforth.
Low traffic neighbours - which restrict access to through traffic - are also set to arrive in Middleton, Armley and Wortley and Chapeltown and Chapel Allerton.
And Leeds City Council’s bid is aiming to create 800kms of safer cycling routes across the city over the coming years.
Mr Greenland added: "Far more needs to be done to tackle the sources of danger - which we know primarily relate to drivers not paying attention or driving dangerously. "
"We also need to continue to invest in high quality protected cycle lanes - so more people can cycle more safely.
"Progress is being made on this in Leeds but we need to do much more, and more quickly - and it's important that central Government provides the Council with the funds to do this.
"Again, some progress has been made on this during Covid-19 - but a greater percentage of the UK's roads budget needs to be allocated to cycling and walking infrastructure.
"Investing in more high quality cycle lanes, and doing more to tackle dangerous driving are both vital, if we are going to significantly reduce the number of people who are killed or seriously injured in Leeds, through no fault of their own, whilst getting from A to B on a bike.
A Leeds City Council spokesperson said: “Leeds City Council is committed to providing a safe environment for anyone who travels on our roads.
"It also continues to invest in improving infrastructure to make cycling a positive and safe option for users.
"We’ve recently installed new trial partially segregated temporary cycle lanes and active travel neighbourhoods, which are all about making it feel safer.
“The council works together in partnership with West Yorkshire Police, to educate drivers and provide enforcement where necessary.
The spokespersons added: “When the police attend a road traffic collision, information about the incident is recorded and the casualty data forms the basis of focused infrastructure improvements.
"Five years’ worth of road traffic collision data is analysed when preparing reports that produce recommendations for where traffic engineering works could effectively prevent casualties.
"Recommendations are coordinated with other road safety initiatives; safety cameras, 20 mile per hour zones as well as other traffic calming schemes.
“Connecting Leeds is our ambition to improve travel in Leeds for people who live, work in and visit the city. £270 million invested in sustainable transport, which will also encourage active travel, including cycling along key bus corridors and in the city centre, cleaner buses, park and ride hubs and major highway improvements.
"However, there’s still much more to do to realise our ambitions of creating an extra 800km segregated cycle space and we need additional funding to make this a reality.”
The UK Government said it is investing billions to make cycling safer.
A spokesperson said: “We’re investing an unprecedented £2 billion to support cycling and walking over the next five years, including for safe, high-quality infrastructure, and proposing changes to The Highway Code to further protect cyclists, pedestrians and horse riders.”
Time to unlock the gridlock
The Yorkshire Evening Posts’s Unlock the Gridlock campaign sets out five key transport priorities that we want political leaders at both a local and government level to support.
The five priorities for transport in Leeds – based on the views of readers – are:
1. An expert analysis of what’s not working in terms of transport in our city;
2. A pledge to consider a mass transit system for Leeds after previous plans were shelved;
3. Fixing Leeds’ unreliable bus network;
4. Improving our train services;
5. Making our city better for walking and cycling.
Support the YEP and become a subscriber today. Enjoy unlimited access to local news and the latest on Leeds United, With a digital subscription, you see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get access to exclusive newsletters and content. Click here to subscribe.