Background: Cycling is an increasingly important mode of transport for environmental and health reasons. Cycling fatalities in London were previously investigated in 1994 using routinely collected data. Since then, there have been shifts in the modes of transport used, and in transport policies. We sought to replicate the previous work using data on cyclist deaths in London between 1992 and 2006, specifically investigating whether heavy goods vehicles continued to pose a threat.
Methods: Observational study based on analysis of time series of police road casualties data, 1992 to 2006, in London, UK. The main outcome measures were cyclists killed in road traffic collisions. Poisson regression and chi-squared test for homogeneity were used to assess time effects. Travel flow data was then used to estimate annual fatality rates per 100,000 cyclists per kilometre.
Results: From 1992 to 2006 there was a mean of 16 cycling fatalities per year (range 8-21). 146 deaths (60%) were in inner London and 96 in outer London. There was no evidence for a decline over time (p = 0.7) other than a pronounced dip in 2004 when there were 8 fatalities. Freight vehicles were involved in 103 of 242 (43%) of all incidents and the vehicle was making a left turn in over half of these (53%). The fatality rate ranged from 20.5 deaths in 1992 to 11.1 deaths in 2006 per 100,000 estimated cyclists per kilometre (rate ratio 0.54, 95% confidence interval 0.28 to 1.03).
Conclusions: There is little evidence fatality rates have fallen. Freight vehicles over 3.5 tonnes continue to present a disproportionate threat; they should be removed from urban roads and more appropriate means of delivery of essential goods found.