Deaths of cyclists in the EU have fallen eight times more slowly than deaths of motor vehicle occupants since 2010, according to the European Transport Safety Council (ETSC), authors of a new report. ETSC is calling for urgent action to ensure that sustainable modes of transport such as walking and cycling, are made much safer.
The latest figures show that there were at least 51,300 pedestrians and 19,450 cyclists killed on EU roads between 2010 and 2018. The researchers found that while deaths among motorised vehicle occupants fell by, on average, 3.1 per cent a year over the period, deaths among cyclists averaged only a 0.4 per cent annual reduction – eight times slower.
The slow decline in cyclist deaths reflects both an increase in levels of cycling in several EU countries, but also the failure by the EU, many governments, local authorities and motor vehicle manufacturers to invest more heavily in measures to protect vulnerable road users.
The research revealed that half of all cyclists and pedestrians that die on EU roads are over the age of 65. Older people are more fragile and less able to recover from serious injuries. However, Europe’s aging population needs to stay active and mobile for reasons of health and wellbeing. ETSC says the challenge is how to improve safety while walking or cycling, particularly for high-risk groups such as the elderly and children.
The report recommends applying a hierarchy for urban planning that prioritises walking, cycling and public transport over private car use, as well as 30 km/h limits supported by traffic calming infrastructure and by enforcement in areas with high levels of walking and cycling.
The authors are also calling on the EU to channel funds into road safety improvements such as the infrastructure modifications needed to support safer city streets and to come forward with a strategy on safe active mobility.