Cyclists are the only group in Merseyside where the numbers of those killed or seriously injured has increased across the last five years.
2019 saw 87 cyclists in Merseyside killed or seriously injured – 10% more than the year before – and 2020 looks set to see another increase (although the official figures can’t be released until they are validated by the DfT).
Cycling has become more popular for exercise and commuting. Cycle mileage has increased by 16% in Great Britain over the past ten years and in 2019 around 3.5 billion miles were traversed by cyclists. There seems to have been a significant increase in cycling during lockdown as well – but that will likely mean more fatalities and injuries.
Inspector Carl McNulty of Merseyside Roads Policing said, “We know that there’s an increased volume of cyclists on the road now. A lot of drivers in Merseyside are incredibly considerate and mindful of this, but some are struggling to adapt. That’s why we encourage cyclists to submit footage of closes passes or near misses to Merseyside Police via our website. Often drivers don’t realise just how much space cyclists need to be given on the road (1.5m), or what that amount of space looks like.”
From Monday 10 May Merseyside Road Safety Partnership is working with Arriva and Stagecoach to help drivers understand what that space looks like. Adverts showing the actual 1.5m width will run on the back of busses all across Merseyside.
The Safer Roads Unit Coordinator, Sarah English, said, “We know that more people than ever have taken up cycling over the lockdowns – which is wonderful. We’re still seeing people parking on cycle lanes and paths though, or parking in such a way that cyclists have to go further out into the road, and often that’s when these close passes happen. Drivers need to be able to give cyclists the full 1.5m of space – but they can’t if people have parked obstructively.”
Merseyside Road Safety Partnership have been working alongside Liverpool Combined Authority and Bikeright to offer Merseyside residents free cycle training. This is giving adults, students, children and business the chance benefit from specialist guidance and support (these can be booked at https://merseysideroadsafety.org/free-adult-cycle-sessions/ ).
Parallel to this, police and community support officers from Merseyside’s Local Policing teams have recently undergone training and will be using their bikes to patrol around their communities. Some officers will be equipped with high definition cameras and will record their journeys and review and act on any footage that captures any careless driving by motorists, including ‘close passes’. They can then use that footage to help drivers understand how their actions can put cyclists at risk.