CYCLISTS are creating "an army of walking wounded" says The Times, because riders are almost as likely as motorists to cause injury to pedestrians.
While cars kill five times more pedestrians than bicycles, a rather different picture emerges when "serious injuries are measured as a proportion of distance travelled", the paper says. Cyclists injured 21 pedestrians per billion km travelled in 2012 compared with 24 pedestrians injured by drivers.
The Times says cycling organisations acknowledge that cyclists who ride on pavements are a threat to the public, but point out that the number of serious accidents is relatively low.
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Only about 20 pedestrians are "seriously injured" each year by riders taking to the pavement. Most collisions occur "when pedestrians step out into the road without seeing or hearing a cyclist", The Times says.
Roger Geffen, policy director at CTC, the national cycling charity, agrees it is important not to "overstate" the level of conflict between riders and pedestrians. Collisions between riders and pedestrians would be reduced even further if the UK invested in "high-quality cycle tracks" that stopped cyclists and people on foot coming into contact, he said.
The Times readily acknowledges that cars are responsible for a far higher number of deaths and serious injuries "in absolute terms".
One pedestrian was killed by a cyclist and 78 were seriously injured in 2012. At the same time, 253 pedestrians were killed by drivers in urban areas and 4,426 were seriously injured.
Writing in The Guardian, Zoe Williams says pedestrians need to develop a sense of "self-righteousness" that equals that of cyclists.
"Pedestrians never object en masse; they don't self-identify as 'pedestrians' and they never say how outrageous it is how many of them die," she writes. "Cyclists are no more sinned against than pedestrians, and yet have a greater sense of outrage and more solidarity."
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