Preventable deaths involving cyclists in England and Wales: Solutions to improve their safety
Richards G., Aronson J., Odgers L.
Cycling in the UK has surged during the Covid-19 pandemic, and cycling is being encouraged by the Government as a healthier and more sustainable means of transport. However, deaths involving pedal cyclists also increased by 40% during the pandemic. In this report, we analyse coronial Prevention of Future Deaths (PFD) reports involving cyclists in England and Wales between July 2013 and April 2021. We identified 33 preventable deaths involving cyclists, summarised in 32 reports. All deaths involved pedal cycles, except for one that involved a motorised electric bicycle. Reports were sent to 53 addressees, most (43%; n=23) sent to local councils. However, compliance with regulation 29 of The Coroners (Investigations) Regulation 2013, which mandates a response within 56 days, was poor; 26 reports (49%) sent by coroners had responses posted on the Courts and Tribunals Judiciary website at the time of analysis (July 2021). Across England and Wales, there was substantial geographical variation in the writing of reports; coroners in London (21%; n=7) and Dorset (9%; n=3) reported the most deaths, and many areas reported none. In 10 cases (30%), coroners raised concerns regarding cycle lanes—either that there was an absence of cycle lanes or that such lanes were in an inadequate condition or had confusing information. In several cases, coroners raised concerns that the location of the accident was structurally dangerous (18%; n=6) and that inspection and classification of defects on carriageways were inappropriate (12%; n=4). In three cases, the coroners had concerns about poor practices at cycling events, and in two cases, the coroners highlighted a lack of education on cycling safely. In one case, regulations for electric bicycles were highlighted. PFDs highlight important lessons, and addressees comply poorly with their duty to respond to coroners’ concerns. We created a publicly available tool, https://preventabledeathstracker.net/, displaying coroners’ reports in England and Wales to streamline access and identify important lessons to prevent future deaths. Local councils, which received most cycling-related reports, are responsible for implementing policies set out in national guidelines or dependent on funding from the Government. To prevent future cycling-related deaths, PFDs ought to be addressed both locally and nationally to improve the safety of roads and their design so that cycling can be encouraged as a healthy, sustainable, and safe mode of transport.