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How safe are our roads for Bradley and the nation's cyclists?

   
   
A group of cyclists wearing cycle helmets
14 Nov 2012 16:04:00.087
PA 327/12

A new government-funded study is to be carried out into how Britain’s roads could be made safer for cyclists to reduce the risk of cycling injuries, encourage more people to use bikes and improve public health.

Amid fresh calls for action on road safety after the recent separate accidents involving world-famous cyclist Bradley Wiggins and the top cycling mentor Shane Sutton, researchers at The University of Nottingham are leading a study which will assess the effectiveness of the current cycling infrastructure and ask ‘which features installed for cyclists are most effective at reducing the risk of injury to cyclists?’

The research has been funded by the National Institute for Health Research Public Health Research (NIHR PHR) Programme and the team of public health researchers are working with members of cycle campaign groups, PEDALS and Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust’s Bicycle Users Group. The work will examine and compare the effectiveness of a wide variety of cycling infrastructure in developed countries including the UK, USA and Australia.
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Keen cyclist, Dr Caroline Mulvaney, who has worked in injury prevention at The University of Nottingham for more than 10 years said: “At a time when we hear much about increasing levels of obesity and reducing levels of activity, the benefits of cycling cannot be underestimated. There is a wider benefit to public health in fewer car journeys and therefore cleaner air. However, in 2011 in England there were 107 pedal cyclist fatalities and 3,085 reported seriously injured casualties. There are many more cycle-related injuries that are not reported to the police and thus do not appear on the police databases but nevertheless require medical attention. Tackling the fear of injury is a priority to persuade more people to get on their bikes.”

Hugh McClintock from PEDALS said: “Recent months have seen a very high profile for cycling both as a sport and as a means of daily transport and also for the potential risks that are too often still faced by cyclists of different kinds on our roads and streets. This clearly increased interest makes the focus of the Cycling Infrastructure study even more timely and important. A wide review of modern cycling infrastructure like cycle lanes, cycle boxes at traffic lights and cycle specific regulations and signage is essential and will inform future improvements to the road network for cyclists.”

Reducing injuries

Cycling infrastructure includes measures to manage cycle traffic and motorized traffic to varying degrees and generally takes one of three main forms:

• Road layout that manages the road space for shared use by both motor vehicles and cyclists and includes cycle lanes.
• Separation of cycle traffic from motorized traffic which includes special routes for use exclusively by cyclists but which may also be shared with pedestrians.
• Management of the traffic network including traffic regulations that ban certain types of traffic from making particular turns and speed management.

There is already some evidence to show that infrastructure can positively influence cycling rates with cyclists choosing to use routes serviced by bicycle facilities. There is also some evidence that infrastructure is effective at reducing injuries. This study aims to review relevant websites, databases, cycling surveys and controlled trials of road systems to determine the effectiveness of various forms of infrastructure at reducing cycling injuries in cyclists.

Maximising cycling safety to improve public health is a Cochrane Review. These are systematic reviews of primary research in human health care and health policy, and are internationally recognised as the highest standard in evidence-based health care.

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This article presents independent research funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). The views expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR or the Department of Health.

The National Institute for Health Research Public Health Research (NIHR PHR) programme was launched in autumn 2008. It commissions research to evaluate public health interventions, providing new knowledge on the benefits, costs, acceptability and wider effect of non-NHS interventions intended to improve the health of the public and reduce inequalities in health. The scope of the programme is multi-disciplinary and broad covering a range of public health interventions. The PHR Programme is funded by the NIHR, with contributions from the CSO in Scotland, NISCHR in Wales and the HSC R&D Division, Public Health Agency in Northern Ireland.www.phr.nihr.ac.uk 

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) is funded by the Department of Health to improve the health and wealth of the nation through research. Since its establishment in April 2006, the NIHR has transformed research in the NHS. It has increased the volume of applied health research for the benefit of patients and the public, driven faster translation of basic science discoveries into tangible benefits for patients and the economy, and developed and supported the people who conduct and contribute to applied health research. The NIHR plays a key role in the Government’s strategy for economic growth, attracting investment by the life-sciences industries through its world-class infrastructure for health research. Together, the NIHR people, programmes, centres of excellence and systems represent the most integrated health research system in the world. For further information, visit the NIHR website (www.nihr.ac.uk).

 

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Notes to editors: The University of Nottingham, described by The Sunday Times University Guide 2011 as ‘the embodiment of the modern international university’, has 40,000 students at award-winning campuses in the United Kingdom, China and Malaysia. It is ranked in the UK's Top 10 and the World's Top 75 universities by the Shanghai Jiao Tong (SJTU) and the QS World University Rankings. It was named ‘the world’s greenest university’ in the UI GreenMetric World University Ranking 2011.

More than 90 per cent of research at The University of Nottingham is of international quality, according to the most recent Research Assessment Exercise. The University’s vision is to be recognised around the world for its signature contributions, especially in global food security, energy & sustainability, and health. The University won a Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education in 2011, for its research into global food security.

Impact: The Nottingham Campaign, its biggest ever fund-raising campaign, will deliver the University’s vision to change lives, tackle global issues and shape the future. More news

 

Story credits

More information is available from Dr Caroline Mulvaney, Division of Primary Care, University of Nottingham on +44 (0)115 823 0956 Caroline.Mulvaney@nottingham.ac.uk

Emma Rayner

Emma Rayner - Media Relations Manager

Email: emma.rayner@nottingham.ac.uk Phone: +44 (0)115 951 5793 Location: University Park

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