Cycling’s Risky Business: An Update – 11 March,  2022

GCHU Co-Director, Professor Carl Heneghan writes on the urgency required in improving cycle infrastructure in Oxford.

Only three months ago, I posted on Cycling’s Risky Business; and it is with the profoundly sad news of two more cycling deaths that an update is required in such a short space of time. 

Two members of the university have died while cycling around Oxford. Ellen Moilanen died near Oxford Parkway Station on 8 February, and Dr Ling Felce on The Plain Roundabout on 1 March. 

An Oxford councillor says an “urgent” safety review of The Plain is warranted, A review that is long overdue as the junction is well known as one of the worst in the country. 

Oxford University reports it will ‘push for change’ after the cycling deaths. And that there is an “Absolute necessity” to improve pedestrian and cycling safety in Oxford. 

However, similar calls in the past have not been actioned. The Oxford Mail reports 16 cyclists have been killed on Oxford’s roads since 2000 – that’s 16 too many. So questions are being asked whether it is ‘ right to say Oxford is a Cycling City?’

The number of deaths and the life years lost is unacceptable. 

The most common factor contributing to a cyclist’s death with another vehicle is the ‘Driver or rider failed to look properly’. 

In the absence of cycling segregation lanes that are impractical in several parts of the city, the evidence supports traffic-calming measures that reduce speed. But unfortunately, there is a lack of speed bumps slowing the traffic down in the city – the inadequate ones facilitate speeding up the traffic and entry into the cycle lane.

The timing HGVs can spend in the city should also be restricted: cycling accidents involving HGVs result in the highest proportion of fatalities for vehicle collisions (6.1%). 

We urgently require a strategy backed up by action that eliminates all traffic deaths and severe injuries.