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Are women more at risk of being killed cycling in London than men?

The debate has been sparked because six of the eight cycle deaths this year have been of women, and all involved fatal collisions with lorries/HGVs/tipper trucks (as did that of one of the men, Akis Kollaros).

Last month, Rosamund Urwin revealed that all of the 16 women cyclists to die in the last four years in London had been hit by a truck.

Now Boris Johnson has given a full reply to Labour assembly member Fiona Twycross in response to her written question about the apparent over-representation of women in the cycle death statistics.

The key point would appear to be that women are “18 per cent” less at risk than men of being killed or seriously injured cycling in London than men.

However the weakness in this claim is that it is based on statistics gathered (last year) from the period April 2008 to March 2011. As TfL loves to acknowledge, a lot has changed in London since then.

As the reply states, women make up 31 per cent of cycle fatalities in the last decade – but only now account for 26 per cent of all cycle journeys. It would appear that new research is long overdue.

One of this year’s fatal cases, that of Federica Baldassa, came to inquest recently, at which the coroner effectively blamed her death on a moment’s inattention (rather than driver error or flaws in infrastructure).

News reports of the other tragedies are available here:

Stephanie Turner

Claire Hitier-Abadie

Moira Gemmill

Esther Hartsilver

Clifton James

Ying Tao

See here for the full reply from Boris Johnson to Fiona Twycross:

Cyclist Fatalities

Question No: 2015/2427

Fiona Twycross

Six of the eight cyclists killed this year on London’s roads have been women. Women make only a quarter of our city’s bike journeys, yet they represent 39 per cent of adult cycling fatalities in the past six-and-a-half years in London. Has any analysis been done of why this is the case?

Written answer from the Mayor

The number of journeys cycled by women in London has increased by almost 40 per cent between 2005/06 and 2013/14 and female cyclists now make up 26 per cent of all trips by bicycle in London. Overall cyclist KSIs fell by 12 per cent between 2013 and 2014 from 489 to 432.  Within this total female cyclist KSIs fell by 18 per cent from 117 in 2013 to 96 in 2014, while the number of male cyclist KSIs fell by 10 per cent in the same period.

TfL has undertaken analysis of cycling risk. This showed that KSI risk amongst female cyclists is lower than for male cyclists, with analysis showing that KSI risk amongst female cyclists is about 18 per cent lower than amongst male cyclists.  There are about 710 KSIs for every billion km cycled by male cyclists in London compared to about 580 KSIs for every billion km cycled by female cyclists. (source: TfL VRU working paper https://www.tfl.gov.uk/corporate/safety-and-security/road-safety/safe-streets-for-london time period April 2008 – March 2011)

Looking specifically at fatal injuries, in the past ten years women made up an average of 31% of all cycle fatalities. However, this varies extensively by year. For example, in 2014, 1 out of 13 cyclist fatal casualties were female (8%), in 2013 5 out of 9 were female (36%) and in 2012, 1 out of 14 were female (7%).

TfL studies cycle fatalities extensively. Reports are published on Road Safety pages of the TfL website https://tfl.gov.uk/corporate/publications-and-reports/road-safety (under research reports), including: Pedal Cyclist Fatalities: Analysis of Police Collision Files (2007-2011) and Pedal cycle collisions and casualties in Greater London (2011). There is also a Road Safety Action Plan and Cycle Safety Action Plan (under Progress Reports).

My cycling vision is aimed directly at making cycling safer and more attractive to everyone. Through research such as Attitudes to Cycling we know that women are more likely to be deterred from cycling because of fear of collisions (56% compared to 51% of men) or a lack of confidence in their cycling ability (35% vs 16% for men). The Quietways routes that are being developed across London, will be appealing to many women cyclists as they offer quieter alternatives to busy roads.

TfL funds adult cycle training which is offered locally by all 33 London boroughs. Since April 2014 8,268 cycle training sessions have been delivered and approximately 75% of these sessions were filled by Women. TfL and British Cycling have a formal partnership and TfL is working with them to further promote their successful Breeze Women Only led cycle rides.

TfL has committed £4bn to improving London’s roads, with almost £1bn being spent on cycling including delivery of the longest substantially segregated cycleways in Europe, quieter backstreet cycling routes and upgrading the most dangerous junctions.

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