Back in January, UK newspaper The Telegraph reported on the places in London that a cyclist is most likely to be knocked over by a car. Shoreditch High Street and Euston were amongst the most dangerous places to cycle in London. Between 2010 and 2011, there were 4,274 cycling accidents reported on the London roads. Tragically, 26 cyclists died in accidents in 2011, the highest figure since 1996.
Although cycling enthusiasts will always claim that the health benefits outweigh the risks. Cyclists and drivers are accusative of dangerous behaviour by the other.
Recently, the organisers of the Olympic games LOCOG have been blamed for organising ‘cyclist-friendly’ road diversions in name only. During the games season a young man was killed close to the Olympics site by a bus carrying journalists who were present to cover the games. Some say that public cycling continues to have such high casualty rates at a time when professional athletes such as Bradley Wiggins and Chris Hoy have done much to boost the profile of the sport at the summer games.
Today London Mayor Boris Johnson announced the Ride London scheme which is supposed to continue the legacy of the Olympics. The plan is for London on August 3 and 4th 2013 to become the largest cycling festival in the world. 70,000 people are expected to take part in the mass fun cycle. The co-director of the event will be Hugh Brasher, son of the founder of the London Marathon.
Bradley Wiggins is Britain’s current cycling hero, having recently won the Tour de France and then travelling back to England to win a gold medal at the London Olympics. He recently went on record at a press conference to express his opinion that cyclists should be made responsible for their own road safety by making it a legal requirement to wear cycling helmets on the road.
The arguments against using cycle helmets are that fatal injuries from cycling accidents do not just result from head injuries only, and that mandatory helmet wearing will cause a drastic drop in the number of people cycling. Some would describe this as a public health disaster. However, it does seem like a basic precaution to prevent brain injury and brain injury compensation claims.
The legacy of the Olympics in getting Britons fit and onto their bikes will become clear over the coming years. However it will require leadership to ensure that on-road cycling is no longer the very dangerous activity it has become.