Before we explain what this map shows, we should make it clear that Greener Leith does not endorse cycling on pavements unless they are designated as ‘shared use’ paths. We’d also encourage all cyclists to adopt a considerate attitude to anyone around them.
With the disclaimer done, the point of this post is to try to get to the facts about the risks posed by cyclists to pedestrians on pavements in the city, particularly as the Evening News is fond of writing articles like this one, that simply begin: “It’s a long-standing gripe about cyclists that some of them seem as at home on the pavement as on the road..,” and then proceed to imply that “lycra louts” are a terrible risk to the good citizens of the city by cycling illegally on the pavement.
So lets look at some facts (kindly provided by the City of Edinburgh Council). The map above shows all the accidents that involved cyclists or pedestrians where they were killed or seriously injured in 2010.
Last year, there were precisely zero serious accidents on a pavement that involved a cyclist injuring a pedestrian, so there’s none to show on the map.
The green markers indicate an accident where a cyclist was seriously injured or killed by a motor vehicle.
The blue markers indicate an accident where a pedestrian was seriously injured or killed by a motor vehicle.
The yellow markers indicate an accident where a cyclist was seriously injured in an accident with another cyclist. All of these incidents took between cyclists who were both on the road.
Lastly, there was one accident last year where a pedestrian was seriously injured by a cyclist, but the incident happened in a cycle lane on a road. That accident is marked with a red marker.
Now the Evening News is not alone in suggesting that there are risks posed by cyclists to pedestrians on pavements. Certain city councillors have been known to express their “grave reservations” about proposals to formally allow cyclists to use short sections of pavements.
As things stand it’s usually illegal for cyclists to use the pavement, and there’s also no doubt that, if you’re walking somewhere, mindlessly enjoying your iPod, it can be somewhat disturbing to have an inconsiderate cyclist fly past you on the pavement, seemingly out of nowhere.
However, the data suggests that the magnitude of the risk to pedestrians from cyclists using pavements is tiny in comparison to the risks that both pedestrians and cyclists face from motor vehicles.
To add a bit of historical perspective, the graph below, shows all the people killed or injured in Edinburgh, across all transport types over the last three years. It shows that the general trend is downwards, even though more people are cycling and driving than before.
In 2010, there were precisely zero serious accidents between cyclists and pedestrians on any pavement in the city. So, whilst some pavement cyclists are undoubtedly obnoxious and scary to others, the next time you hear someone complaining about lycra louts, or voicing ‘grave concerns’ about the danger of cyclists on the pavements, show them this blog post. And then ask them whether council proposals to allow cyclists to use some sections of pavement seem so unreasonable.
For the geeks amongst you, the map was made using Google Fusion tables, whilst the graph was made using Google Charts.