Friday 22 March 2013

Cycling fatality rate about five times as high in London as in Berlin

The other day Danny from Cyclists in the City linked to the city of Berlin's new plan for improving cycling conditions. I haven't been to Berlin for years and don't know what it's like to cycle there, but on the face of it the strategy looks pretty good.

What the strategy documents also allow us to do is compare how dangerous cycling in Berlin is to cycling in London, using the fatality rate per kilometre cycled. Berlin's strategy says (in German) there are 1.5 million cycling trips  a day, at an average of 3.7 km a trip, giving a total of just over 2 billion km cycled per year. And in the last three years there were 26 recorded cycling fatalities or 8.7 per year, giving an annual rate of 0.43 fatalities every 100 million km (or to put it the other way, over 230 million km cycled for each one fatality).

We can get comparable figures for London from the annual Travel in London report and road casualties reports. According to the data on trips per day (table 3.5) and average distance per trip (figure 2.5) in the most recent Travel in London report, there were 0.5 million cycling trips a day in London over the last three years, at an average distance of 3.1 km per day, giving a total of 553 million km cycled per year in London. There were also 39 cyclist fatalities in this period or an average of 13 per year, giving an annual rate of 2.35 fatalities every 100 million km (or just over 40 million km cycled for each fatality).

So it looks like the fatality rate for cycling in London is about five times as high as in Berlin. Note, these figures shouldn't be subject to the same concerns over casualty recording as the serious injury rates I calculated before, as fatalities are much less subject to under-recording than injuries.

Here's a table with all the numbers:

Trips per day (millions)0.470.490.500.491.50
Distance per trip (km)2.993.313.043.113.70
Total distance per year (m km)5125915555532,026
Fatalities in period1310163926
Fatalities per year131016138.7
Annual fatalities per 100m km2.541.692.882.350.43
Million km per fatality39593543234

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