Road Safety News

London KSIs fall to all time low – but motorcyclist fatalities increase

Wednesday 10th June 2015

While the number of people killed or seriously injured (KSI) on London’s roads in 2014 fell to its lowest level since records began, the number of motorcyclist fatalities rose from 22 in 2013 to 27 in 2014.

On the back of the figures, Boris Johnson, mayor of London, has announced a target to halve the number of KSIs on London’s roads by 2020.

The 2014 stats show that compared to 2013 the number of overall KSIs was down 7%, while pedestrian and car occupant KSIs fell by 7% and 6% respectively. The number of cyclist KSIs was down 12%, despite “huge increases” in the number of people cycling, and the number of child KSIs fell 11% to the lowest level recorded.

TfL says that while the overall figures are very positive, there are “still some continuing areas of concern”.

Of the 13 cyclist fatalities in 2014, five involved HGVs or commercial vehicles and all six to date in 2015 have also involved this type of vehicle. To help address this, TfL and London boroughs are introducing the Safer Lorry Scheme from 1 September, which will require all lorries entering the Capital to be fitted with basic safety equipment including sideguards and mirrors.

To address the increase in motorcycling fatalities, a dedicated police motorcycle safety team is undertaking a range of educational initiatives and carrying out enforcement against speeding, careless riding, and red light running.

Boris Johnson, London’s mayor, said the statistics “show quite clearly that road safety in the Capital continues to head in the right direction”.

Mr Johnson added: “Today, we're setting a new target to halve the number of people killed or seriously injured on London's roads by 2020. It is an ambitious target, but I believe it is one that we can achieve.”

Both the RAC and IAM expressed concern at the increase in motorcycle fatalities.

Simon Williams, RAC spokesman, said: “The increase in motorcyclist fatalities is the first rise in London since 2011; while the numbers might look small, every death on our roads is a tragedy.

“Later this month we should know how the rest of England compares. Unlike in London, many parts of the country reported a rise in motorcyclists killed in 2013 compared to previous years, so clearly a large task remains for local authorities when it comes to improving safety on our roads.”

Neil Greig, IAM director of policy and research, said: "Motorcycling is gaining in popularity in the capital where it offers an excellent solution to London's congestion problems, but it is worrying that deaths are on the increase. 

“Drivers are clearly learning to look out for pedestrians and cyclists but the vulnerability of motorcyclists is often forgotten. As well as biker awareness campaigns for all road users the IAM would like to see easy access to extra training for those taking up urban commuting for the first time."


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Heaven forbid we should learn why we crash. There would be no need for any psychological/university/government intervention/control over the masses.

Don’t we already know, but refuse to acknowledge? Are we not to be ‘controlled’ at any cost? Or removed from the equation completely?
Derek Reynolds, Salop.

Agree (5) | Disagree (4)

Once upon a time books were kept under lock and key and were only available to a select few. It was once they appeared in public libraries and reached a huge new audience that learning really took hold. I would suggest that much the same would happen with accident reports if they were made widely available.
Duncan MacKillop. No surprise - No accident.

Agree (7) | Disagree (6)

I have asked, Hugh, and have been denied. You are quite right that the collisions may have been "triggered by the foolish behaviour of the riders themselves" but it is also true that "continued enforcement" may well not address any of the triggering factors. Some collisions may even have been triggered by the current enforcement, as we know has happened elsewhere. Surely we can all agree that we need to know why the collisions occurred before we can make any rational comment.
Dave Finney, Slough

Agree (9) | Disagree (9)

'State secret?' A bit paranoid isn't it Duncan? Road accident reports are available to whoever legitimately might want to see them (usually from those within the profession and typically obtainable from LAs - far more informative than Stats 19 by the way).

The thing is, the general public wouldn't need to see them nor, in my years of experience do I recall anyone ever asking to see them - why would they?

I was merely saying earlier - perhaps somewhat rhetorically - that without the full details of individual collisions, headlines simply reporting increases by number and percentage don't reveal much and can lead to uninformed comment and speculation.

In the particular case of London's increase in motorcyclist fatalities, they might all have been triggered by the foolish behaviour of the riders themselves for all we know, as interested readers, and therefore beyond what the authorities could reasonably be expected to address, short of continued enforcement.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (5) | Disagree (3)

In order to reduce motorcyclist casualties still further we need a radical rethink about the methods we use. Let’s take a look at one view of the phenomenon of a collision. From what has been previously discussed on this website we can conclude that:
• a collision can only occur when one or more of the objects potentially involved are moving;
• a collision occurs when somebody or something invades somebody else’s space;
• a collision results when one or more of the parties involved experiences a prediction failure.

I would suggest two interventions to mitigate the above:
1 – one involving education;
2 – one to market (1).

The content of the interventions is critical to their success and in both cases we need to consider one of the most fundamental drivers of animal and human behaviour. I would suggest that we look to Professor Robert West’s PRIME theory as it includes the concept of neural plasticity. It’s now generally recognised that whenever we learn something new it results in changes to the brain on a microscopic scale. Memory experts tell us that the secret to memorising something is to link it to creative visualisation and that the more colourful and absurd the visualised imagery is, the more effective it is likely be. This is already well established in techniques like Neural Linguistic Programming – there’s no reason why we shouldn’t share ideas and best practice with other practitioners in different fields of behaviour change.

In developing our ideas we need to take into account the most effective principles from a systems approach and the latest theories for changing the human element. We will need to consider novel and creative approaches if we are to take motorcyclist casualty reduction to the next level that we all desire. Continually rehashing the same old methodology from yesteryear may yield temporary reductions in the figures but it will not take us that far towards ‘vision zero’ – this will probably never be reached with our current level of technology, however, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t have a go at ‘dreaming the impossible dream’ and aspire to drive casualty figures ever downwards – I really do believe that most road safety practitioners are doing just this.
Mark - Wiltshire

Agree (6) | Disagree (4)

It would be very useful to know these things Hugh, but sadly they are pretty much kept a state secret! The road transport industry is the only one that keeps accident reports under lock and key. All other industries have to make accident reports freely available to the public which is probably why those industries have much better safety systems than we do.

Elaine Hardy is the only person that I know of outside of the legal system to have ever seen the Coronor's reports on fatal accidents and her findings make for very interesting reading.

In aviation we get a full report on all the how's, why's and who's of air accidents and incidents solely for the purpose of learning from them so that similar events do not happen in the future. If road accident findings were published as freely as the reports from aviation then we would all be much better off as a result.
Duncan MacKillop. No surprise - No accident.

Agree (14) | Disagree (5)

Before speculating, it might be useful to know the nature of these motorcycling collisions in London, i.e. who did what; was the biker a helpless victim of another road user's behaviour? Was any other vehicle involved? Was there contributory negligence? Numbers of collision and percentage rises (in any news story) don't really tell the full picture.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (10) | Disagree (0)

Two comments Hugh. First is that historically older motorcycles had what was then considered poor braking certainly when compared to cars. Braking on bends is and was always considered a no no but can be achieved by practise but still whilst today's modern bikes have far greater brakes because of the dynamics of a motorcycle it can never be considered as good as a car due to that built in instability, having only two wheels. In a straight line dry contest most modern bikes can out brake most modern cars.

There are many more similarities between cycling and motorcycling when it comes to vulnerability. One of the two greatest differences as I see it is with SMIDSYs. In that generally cyclists are slower and ride on the nearside of vehicles and can be seen easier on that side of cars when viewed by a driver wishing to pull out at a junction. However a motorcyclist in a queue of traffic is advised to ride in the middle or offside of the carriageway and thus in the main they are, because of that advised position, shielded from sight by other road vehicles particularly large ones. Thus not being seen, a driver would not be aware of their presence and presume that there is nothing to stop him from pulling out when that first vehicle passes.
Bob Craven Lancs...Space is Safe Campaigner

Agree (7) | Disagree (1)

Before deciding to prosecute even greater numbers of motorcyclists for speeding and red light running, did anyone think to ask "How many motorcyclists were killed because they were speeding?" and "How many motorcyclists were killed because they ran a red light?".

And, upon deciding their course of action, did anyone think to run their interventions within scientific trials? If not we may spend further decades arguing over whether any benefit was achieved. If, however, scientific trials are used, we will be able to target resources wisely and genuinely save lives. Let's start that evidence-led approach.
Dave Finney, Slough

Agree (14) | Disagree (7)

No Duncan, I obviously wouldn't have written the same thing replacing 'motorcyclists' with 'cyclists'. I didn't think the difference bewteen the two needed explaining, however motorcyclists can easily keep up with, overtake and mix with other motorised vehicles and are therefore not as at risk as cyclists, who can't. If motorbikes have poor brakes, why are they made capable of such high speeds and acceleration and why do some of their riders not remember that?
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (5) | Disagree (10)

I wonder if Hugh would have written the same reply only replacing the word motorcyclists with cyclists? This is my point Elaine in that what should be sauce for the Goose should also be sauce for the Gander, but that doesn't seem to apply. If as Hugh asserts that motorcyclists are capable of looking after themselves then why not cyclists? What's so different about the two groups? Both are equally vulnerable to collision, both ride dynamically unstable machines with poor brakes and limited steering, both regularly experience the horror of the SMIDSY and both comprise of human beings trying to get to their destination. Functionally both groups are exactly the same yet are treated entirely differently which does seem somewhat strange.
Duncan MacKillop. No surprise - No accident.

Agree (18) | Disagree (10)

I've always regarded motorcyclists as a road user group able to look after themselves, to be honest. Their machines' acceleration and top speed makes them the fastest vehicles on the roads with the capabilties to overtake and zip in and out of traffic with ease and yet their protection is minimal, so they are highly vulnerable in the event of a collision. It's their choice however and presumably their acceptance of risk, so why do some tempt fate by their own road behaviour, let alone that of others? Are they thrill-seekers using the highway and not the track?
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (9) | Disagree (12)

We all know about supply and demand. Certain things become understood. The same applies on the road. If we increase the numbers of vehicles or cyclists or motorcyclists on any roads whether they be in the country or in a specific town or city we are going to see a natural increase of incidents occurring due to that increased volume. I have said this before when it comes to cyclists that the more cyclists that are encouraged to take to the road the greater the increase of incidents involving them.

I also mentioned that motorcyclists have been sidelined for many decades. They have not been taken into account as a road user due to their minimal or insignificant presence. They are now being sidelined again due in main to the renewed interest in cycling.

This government want to encourage more two wheeled transport in the capital and the country and to that end have spent billions on cycling and nothing at all like that on the needs of the same vulnerable group...motorcyclist.

Duncan was right and I support his claim as we both have seen about the same number of years of negligence when it come to motorcyclists.
Bob Craven Lancs...Space is Safe Campaigner.

Agree (15) | Disagree (4)

No disrespect Duncan, but the article does not suggest that motorcyclists are guilty - possibly in need of education and enforcement or as Neil Greig has intimated "Drivers are clearly learning to look out for pedestrians and cyclists but the vulnerability of motorcyclists is often forgotten".

Looking through your interventions on Road Safety GB, it appears that you either have time to spare or are simply argumentative. In any event, I can only offer the following advice..
Elaine, Northern Ireland

Agree (16) | Disagree (6)

Cyclists die and an attempt is made to fix the trucks. Motorcyclists die and an attempt is made to fix the motorcyclist. The reason why this is so is because the cyclist is classed as vulnerable/innocent whilst the motorcyclist is classed as vulnerable/guilty. Is it any wonder that those of us that want to further the cause of motorcycle safety despair at the way that road safety is currently managed?
Duncan MacKillop. No surprise - No accident.

Agree (18) | Disagree (13)