Cyclists risking lives

cyclistA survey has shown that a fifth of Oxford cyclists are putting themselves at risk of injury by jumping red lights.

The research, published earlier this month, was carried out by a reporter for The Oxford Mail monitoring cyclists at two Oxford junctions.

The report also showed that half of all cyclists fail to wear a helmet and that three fifths do not use lights in the early morning.

The study monitored the junctions between St Aldates and Thames Street, and Ferry Hinksey Road and Botley Road.

The Oxford Pedestrian Association has called for tighter police control, after incidents of pedestrians being injured by cyclists were reported. Chairperson Sushila Dhall told the Mail: “Cyclists are putting their lives at risks by going through red lights and not using lights on their bikes … and we are concerned about people riding on the pavement because pedestrians are more vulnerable than cyclists.”

However, some have reacted to the survey’s findings in a dismissive fashion. James Styrling, Chairman of ‘Cyclox’, the Cycling Campaign for Oxford, stated: “The reason the police don’t take very seriously this kind of incident is because very few accidents happen when cyclists run red lights or do other things that are annoying.”

This sentiment was shared by some Oxford students, with one St Anne’s first year claiming: “People always look before they jump lights. It’s just common sense.”

Styrling also warned against having the public’s focus diverted away from reckless drivers, which he considered to be the main issue in road safety: “The police know that the real worry is people drink-driving and driving while using mobile phones, which can be just as dangerous. These two acts are by far bigger killers in Oxfordshire and nationally.”

Thames Valley Police issued 346 penalty tickets to cyclists ignoring traffic signs last year. Chief Inspector Henry Parsons stated: “Jumping red lights, whether by vehicle or cycle is dangerous. For that reason we will continue to enforce this and other road safety legislation.”

The number of Oxfordshire cyclists killed or seriously injured in road accidents has more than doubled in recent years, from 27 deaths in 2001 to 58 in 2011.