Winter cycle safety in the spotlight as the clocks go back
More than half of Edinburgh's cycle casualties in November, December and January happen during the hours of darkness.
Meanwhile, almost 50% of serious injuries sustained by cyclists in the Capital between 2006 and 2010 were linked to other vehicles carrying out turning manoeuvres. So while cyclists should take extra care to be seen, it is equally important that motorists take extra care to look out for cyclists as they turn at junctions.
This week a new campaign and series of roadshows run by the Streets Ahead partnership will reinforce these messages in a bid to cut the cycle casualty rate this winter.
The visibility campaign urges cyclists to make sure they are seen on the roads during the winter months by wearing high visibility clothing and ensuring their bikes are fitted with lights and reflectors.
Councillor Jim Orr, Vice Convener of the Transport and Environment Committee, said: "Cycling is a safe and healthy way to travel and as a Council we are committed to encouraging bike use. However, too many Edinburgh cyclists are still taking a cavalier approach to visibility, in particular by cycling without lights. Apart from being unsafe, this contravenes the Highway Code and undermines the goodwill of the motorists we cyclists share the roads with.
"As a keen cyclist, I'm always properly kitted out with high visibility kit and lights. This new joint campaign will reinforce the visibility message with free samples and timely tips on how cyclists can keep themselves safe. My message for all road users - motorists and cyclists alike - is to take special care to look out for each other during the darker winter months and make sure you are visible and brightly lit."
In addition to a marketing and advertising campaign launching on 25 October 2012, a cycling safety roadshow aimed at both cyclists and motorists will tour University of Edinburgh and NHS buildings over the coming days to coincide with the clocks going back at the weekend.
Cyclists will be given free bike lights and information leaflets and advice. Free bike checks by The Bike Station and bike security marking by Lothian and Borders Police are also on offer.
Superintendent David Carradice of Lothian and Borders Police said: "Edinburgh, like many cities in the UK has numerous cyclists travelling on the road network as they make their way to work, school, or who use their bikes recreationally.
"The road conditions change dramatically during the autumn and winter months, with increased hours of darkness and more challenging road conditions to face.
"It is therefore extremely important for cyclists to take the appropriate steps to ensure their safety.
"The cycle safety road shows will provide cyclists with all the necessary advice and guidance on keeping themselves safe while out on the road.
"Lothian and Borders Police and their partner agencies are committed to promoting cycle safety and reducing the number of casualties on our roads.
"Anyone wishing further information on keeping themselves or their bike safe can contact their local policing team or visit the Lothian and Borders Police website at www.lbp.police.uk."
Thursday 25 October 2012 - Western General Hospital, outside the Wellcome Trust Building
Monday 29 October 2012 - The Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh
Tuesday 30 October 2012 - King's Buildings, outside the Murray Library (University of Edinburgh)
Thursday 1 November 2012 - Potterrow (University of Edinburgh)
Emma Crowther, Transport and Parking Manager at the University of Edinburgh, said: "Huge numbers of our staff and students cycle to University and we want to make sure they continue to do so through the darker winter months - but safely. Over the last few weeks in the run-up to this campaign we have been spreading awareness of the importance of bike lights and high-viz clothing. Motorists also have their part to play in taking special care to look out for cyclists and we will be relaying this message to drivers."
Ian Maxwell from Spokes, the Lothian Cycle Campaign, said: "Many people continue to cycle all year round in Edinburgh and this campaign emphasises that winter commuting is just as feasible if you wear appropriate clothing (warm, but in zippable layers so that you can avoid overheating) and use lights after dark. In recent years the traffic counts by Spokes in May and November have shown almost no decrease in cycling in November compared with May."
Dr Graham MacKenzie, Consultant in Public Health, NHS Lothian, said: "Cycling is a great way to stay active and improve your health. It is important that people cycle safely at all times and NHS Lothian would urge cyclists to make sure they are seen on the roads during the winter months. It's vital that cyclists and motorists exercise caution on the roads as the dark nights set in."