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Policy statement

What is the most effective way to enhance the safety of cycling?

Cycling is already a very safe and life-extending activity.

However, there are two well-proven ways to make cycling even safer.

By far the most effective way to reduce risk for all cyclists is to encourage more people to cycle. For every doubling of cycle use, the risk of injury per cyclist falls by around a third (Jacobsen, 2003; Robinson, 2005b).

This reduction in risk is much greater than anything yet achieved through the use of cycle helmets. It is a consequence that has been well-demonstrated across time and between countries, and is the principal explanation as to why the risk of cycling is lowest in countries such as the Netherlands and Denmark which have large cycling populations.

Conversely, anything that reduces the number of people who cycle, such as is generally the result of helmet promotion, increases risk for those who continue to do so.

The best way for individual people to enhance their own safety when cycling is to learn to cycle skilfully and in a vehicular manner. Good quality cycle training, given by instructors who are themselves vehicular cyclists, can be beneficial in achieving this. There are also books available that detail the principles of vehicular cycling (Franklin, 2007; Forester, 1993).


Forester, 1993

Forester J, . Effective Cycling. MIT Press, USA, 1993. ISBN 0262560704..

Franklin, 2007

Franklin, J, . Cyclecraft. The Stationery Office UK, 2007. ISBN 978-0-11-703740-3.

Jacobsen, 2003

Jacobsen PL, 2003. Safety in numbers: more walkers and bicyclists, safer walking and bicycling. Injury Prevention 2003;9:205-209.

Robinson, 2005b

Robinson DL, 2005. Safety in numbers in Australia: more walkers and bicyclists, safer walking and bicycling. Health Promotion Journal of Australia 2005;16:47-51.

See also