More than 100 cyclists have been injured on Wigan roads in last four years
No fewer than 133 cyclists have been injured, some of them badly, on Wigan’s roads in the last four years.
Analysis of Department for Transport (DfT) figures by the JPIMedia Data Unit shows there were 40 injuries in 2019, with 11 riders seriously hurt and 29 suffering minor injuries.
This, however, is a 25 per cent increase on the 32 casualties recorded in 2016, though it is at least a decrease from the highest total of 51 in 2017.
Overall the casualty figures show Wigan is the eighth-safest place in the North West to head out on two wheels, with a casualty rate of 12 per 100,000 residents last year.
But with the public being encouraged to get on their bikes more due to the coronavirus pandemic, the national picture for cyclists being injured or killed has prompted urgent calls for infrastructure improvements.
A leading charity says safety is still a key barrier to getting more people cycling.
Wigan has seen major investment in cycling routes in recent years, with a number of ambitious regional projects being unveiled in the borough.
But one regular rider in the borough says Wigan still faces many of the same hurdles and problems that those on two wheels are looking at across the country and suggested more could have been done to take advantage of the upsurge in interest in cycling during lockdown.
The JPIMedia Data Unit’s work also showed that in 2019 there were still 40 casualties on the borough’s roads, the same number as in 2018.
In more positive news for the borough, no cyclists lost their lives on the road in Wigan last year.
In recent years new cycle lanes have been laid at the Saddle Junction and up Robin Park Road while a section of towpath along the Bridgewater Canal near Astley previously dubbed the Muddy Mile has been transformed as part of the Greater Manchester Bee Network scheme.
Earlier this year Wigan Council also received funding to explore two more major active transport schemes, one linking Standish to Ashton and the other running through Leigh, Atherton and Tyldesley.
Chris Wood, who lives in Swinley and uses his bike to get to and from work, spoke of what it is like to ride around the borough.
He said: “The biggest thing you face wherever you are is not drivers who are mean-spirited or anything like that but just carelessness, drivers not paying attention.
“There are certain sections where I know I need to be more careful when riding my bike because I know how motorists will behave and I know I’m more at risk there.
“I see a lot of cyclists who are quite new to it and trying desperately to cling to the side of the road. They don’t want to be an obstacle to traffic but are actually putting themselves at more risk.
“We are very reliant on cyclists taking responsibility for our own safety rather than the infrastructure keeping us safe by default, but that is not a Wigan issue, it’s the same throughout the country.”
Chris said he saw a lot more Wiganers venturing out on two wheels during the first lockdown and suggested the council had missed an opportunity to create a safer cycling environment using more radical transport measures.
Nationally, last year 102 cyclists were killed on the UK’s roads while almost 4,000 were seriously hurt and more than 3,000 sustained minor injuries.
The figures only include incidents reported to police.
Daisy Narayanan, director of urbanism at walking and cycling charity Sustrans, said: “While cycling is a relatively safe activity, we need to continue to make our streets safer for people who cycle and to increase people’s perceptions of safety.
“Local authorities should work to create safer, better streets and places through the implementation of protected cycle routes and low traffic neighbourhoods, whilst taking into account the local context.”
The UK Government said it is investing billions of pounds to make cycling safer.
The Department for Transport (DfT) said it is proposing changes to the Highway Code to further protect cyclists, pedestrians and horse riders.
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