MORE than 450 cyclists were injured on the county’s road last years, new figures show.
Of the 468 casualties in Cambridgeshire, almost half of them – 218 – were in Cambridge.
Though only provisional figures for 2011, the data raises concerns about cyclist safety in Cambridge in a week when the city council pledged its support to a national cycling campaign.
Casualty reduction officer PC Steve Gedny said the attitude of both drivers and cyclists needs to change if the number of injured cyclists is to be cut.
“You have the cyclists who say it is all the drivers’ fault, then you have drivers saying it is the cyclists’ fault,” he said.
“I have been in traffic policing for 20 years and have seen cyclists go straight through red lights in front of a police car. Then you will have a driver who will not give a cyclist any room. It’s all about changing these attitudes.”
The 218 casualties – about 190 of these were slight injuries – is a fall from 2010’s count of 230. Those figures painted a worrying picture of cyclists being involved in 59 per cent of road accidents in Cambridge. Only last week, a 56-year-old cyclist was taken to Addenbrooke’s with serious injuries after colliding with a coach in Trumpington Road.
On top of the figures, hundreds of accidents involving cyclists go unreported each year.
As part of The Times’ Cities Fit For Cycling campaign – prompted after Cambridge University graduate and reporter at the newspaper Mary Bowers, 27, collided with a lorry on her way to work in London in November and has been in a coma ever since – Cambridge City Council has agreed the city should be first to heed the Times’ call.
Cambridge MP and keen cyclist Julian Huppert said an extension of 20mph zones in the city, being looked at by the council, could be beneficial.
“Every one of these accidents is one too many; but we have to keep this is in perspective. We have the most people cycling in the UK and therefore considerably more than cycling across the county generally,” he said.
“We are fortunate that cyclists are well catered for in Cambridge with designated cycle lanes and cycle routes.
“There are, however, more steps we can take to improve the safety of cyclists on our roads and our Government can do more to achieve this.”
PC Gedny, who has been in his new role for two months, advised cyclists to be “defensive” in their cycling.
“If there is a cycling lane down the left-hand side of a lorry and you have right of way, it doesn’t meant you have to go down the side of the lorry. There is only going to be one winner,” he said.
He also reiterated the basics of cycling education – lights, helmets and the highway code.
“I have seen the consequences of these accidents,” said PC Gedney, previously a traffic officer for 18 years. “In this role I am looking at how to prevent the accidents.”
Alistair McCluskey, who lives off Mill Road, is a cyclist and a driver.
He said: “Cambridge is barely equipped for drivers so when you have cyclists trying to share the road, it can be chaos.
“The streets are narrow and often there is not much that can be done about that.”
A spokesman for Cambridgeshire County Council said: “It is the responsibility of all road users that they remain fully aware and prevent accidents on Cambridgeshire roads.”
Last week David Cameron said cyclists “take their life into their hands” when they cycle in a city. Twitter disagreed – many users said that cyclists put their life in the hands of motorists when they cycle in a city.