Highways and roads are getting safer for car drivers: over the last decades, Europe cut the number of road traffic death by 43%. But pedestrians and cyclists are still the most vulnerable road users and it’s a tough time if you like to walk or ride a bicycle in urban areas.
Almost half of road victims in Europe are pedestrians (22% of all people killed), motorcyclists (15%) and cyclists (8%). Don’t get confused by what you may read on statistics: cyclists are becoming the most vulnerable road users. Cyclists are most likely to be seriously injured when travelling in urban areas with 50 km/h speed limits – with more collisions occurring in summer months, and in the afternoon.
Europe made great progress in reducing road fatalities. In 2015 many European countries (like Sweden, The Netherlands, Denmark, the Uk and Malta) reported a victim rate below 40 deaths per million inhabitants and European average was 50.5. That’s a major achievement but it’s not enough. Over all if you are a bicycle commuter. The number of cyclist fatalities decreased by only 4% between 2010 and 2014, which is much lower than the total fatality decrease (18%).
The share of cyclist deaths is especially high in countries with most bicycle commuters, like Netherlands (25%), as well as Denmark and Hungary (16%). Cycling is a worrying issue for all European member states. On one hand, Bruxelles is promoting several campaigns on sustainable mobility and transport, like the European Mobility Week that yearly occurs in September.
On other hand, between 2007 and 2013, the fund granting amounted just 600 million euro. Anyway, not many countries took the opportunity to invest in safety paths for cyclists. Germany, Poland, Hungary and Czech Republic spent over 100 million each.
According to European Cyclist Federation if the European Union would invest 6 billion euro, instead of 600 million, in the next 5 years, it will get back 50.000 km of new cycling paths, one million painting of new cycle lanes and a basic cycle training for 100 million citizens.
Education is one of the most important voices to get safer road in order to improve the safety awareness of cyclists themselves (like helmet use) and the awareness among drivers of the safety of surrounding cyclists. The new mobility trends in our society like bicycle commuters and food delivery on two wheels will increase road accidents risks. According to the ECF around the 6 billion targets is still a dream but 2.3 billion is available for cycling-related projects, with a minimum of 1.3 billion available during the current seven-year funding cycle.