Some additional information:

62 cyclists were killed or seriously injured in West Sussex in 1998.

Driver error was responsible in 68% of cases (official). 98% of serious accidents involved cars.

9.6% of fatal road accidents involve cyclists in West Sussex which is more than the national average of 7%. As West Sussex is relatively flat, it used to be a good area for cycling. if they cannot get it right here, I cannot see how they will anywhere else.

> Cycling:  Risk of Accidents
> I would be interested in estimates from experienced cyclists of:
> 1)  how many miles you would cycle on roads before having an accident
> involving injury to the cyclist or damage to the bike.
> 2)  what is the cause of the accidents (general, no details at first):
>      e.g.  vehicle driver not seeing the cyclist, poor weather,
> pedestrians, faulty cycle, etc.
> If I have enough replies, I may create a web page.
> Cheers
> Andy Horton.
> Replies can be sent directly to:
> All messages will receive a reply. It might be best to send the messages
> directly to me, unless the reply is of widespread Cornish interest. Later,
> I could summarise the findings and post them up if they are relevant.

Andy, it would be interesting to know whether people claimed compensation, sued etc
and how much they got for various accidents (when another's fault).

I've never sued, as every time I believe it has been a genuine accident and not
intentional, but I have certainly asked them for compensation for bike repairs etc
... personally I'm not a great believer in the insurance market which is another
reason for not suing.

Just remembered another accident. Can't recall when or how it would fit into the
other mileages quoted, but probably in last 7-8 years (since living in Cornwall).

Shropshire, on a visit to my parents.

Unrepaired 'C' road: cycling down the lane from the village, suddenly saw a wide
''pothole' in middle of road. Had panniers on so not able to swerve around in time,
tried to 'leap' wheel across, but hole too wide, and it crashed down and buckled
wheel! Asked Shropshire CC for compensation and got it. Pothole had been there for
about a year, and was repaired in a week! Local cyclists would have known about it


----- Original Message -----
From: Andy Horton <>
To: Cornish Wildlife <>
Sent: 20 January 2000 15:59
Subject: [CornishWildlife] Cycling: Hazard Risks

Message: 3
   Date: Fri, 21 Jan 2000 16:35:39 +0100
   From: "DENISE  MARTIN" <>
Subject: Re: Cycling:  Hazard Risks

Hi Robin .. funny you mention this.  I fell into a similar pothole when I
was 9yrs old and smashed my front teeth beyond repair.  It was wartime in
Cornwall,  near StEvel, Mawgan Porth, where my Father worked.  The pothole
was made by the Americans and they paid for my teeth to be fixed,  the
dentist was the American one on the airfield.


Have you posted this to newsgroup uk.rec.cycling? You would probably get
lots of replies and possibly pointers to existing web sites detailing
the sort of information you are trying to compile.

As for me, I've been cycling since I was about 5, i.e. 37 years. I used
to cycle to work every day and nearly all our holidays are cycle-touring
holidays. I have two bikes. My older one, I once calculated many years
ago had probably done about 50,000 miles. Given that fact, I would say
in my lifetime I have now probably cycled about 100,000 miles.

I have had 3 "accidents" that I can think of, although I have fallen off
more than that.

One was when I was about 9, when I was standing on the pedal and my foot
slipped off the front, hit the ground and sent me in what must have been
a wonderfully spectacular somersault over the handlebars. This hurt so
much that I cried. I stopped standing on the pedals and bought toe-

The second was when I was too busy waving at one of my work colleagues
that I didn't notice until too late that the car that had just overtaken
me had stopped right in front of me and I (gently) rode into the back of

The third was when I was belting down a hill with a bend on it with a
blind corner. At the top of the hill you could ascertain that nothing
was coming up, so I was accustomed to belting down it (I rode down it
every work-day for 35 months.) Unfortunately on this one occasion a van
had also gone round the bend too fast and had lost his ladders from his
roof rack, so on rounding the bend (at 25 to 30 mph) I had the choice of
hitting  the van or riding over the ladders. I rode over the ladders - I
have no idea how far I went through the air (still on my bike) but it
seemed like a long distance. I somehow managed to stay on my bike until
the bottom of the hill even though both wheels were very bent and the
bike was basically unrideable.

As you can see from all three, they were all my own fault! Inexperience,
lack of concentration, and carelessness in that order, although the van-
driver was partly to blame in the third event.

My wife also cycles a lot, although nowhere nearly as much as I do. She
has come off once when she skidded on loose grit going very gently down
a 1 in 6 hill. If she'd had the nerve not to brake so hard, she would
have stayed on her bike, so put that down to inexperience if you like.

Basically, having observed many other cyclists habits, I would say that
most accidents involving bikes are down to the cyclist either not having
enough road sense or not having the correct sense of their own
vulnerability (meaning either thinking they aren't vulnerable and
assuming that they will be seen, or feeling so vulnerable that they lack
the confidence to move properly with the traffic)

I have no bias in this - I do not own a car!

Sorry to have rambled so much - happy memories!!

Richard Candeland


Hello Richard,,

My figure for crashes in urban Sussex is one serious crash every 18 months or about 1500 miles, all involving vehicles and only one in 10 was I half at fault, in a torrential downfall when I should have got off the bike (50% because the visibility of the car driver was also nil and he should have stopped as well.)

All because the car did not see the cyclist because they were distracted or not paying attention. On reflection I am lucky to be alive, but all were on slower routes because I avoid the fast routes as near misses occur often, on some roads 100% of the time. More later.

Mobile phones are the final straw. Ironically, the danger (and you may appreciate this) is not because they are distracted whilst using the phones on the move, although this does occur) but because they stop suddenly on a straight fast road when you are not expecting it (like you would expect  if there was a left turning ahead and they would cut you up) and you could run into the back of them without them even noticing.

I have often noticed why motorists think that cyclists come out of nowhere is because they are not paying attention and only see the bike at the last minute.


Andy Horton.

Hi Andy

1)  I was writing about Chris Boardman (not even Marco Pantini) types
rather than someone cycling to work, using the route as a race track,
training exercise. The Tour de France goes about 20 m.p.h. when it slows

Right. Yes I can understand now. One of the other couriers was a pro speed and road
race cyclist, so he trained while couriering on a one gear bike, and was still the
second to fastest courier out of the group! Nice (smooth) legs he had too, but that's
by the by!

3)  In Adur Valley, Sussex, the choice is between cycling on the off-road
paths or not at all. The roads are a hazard in themselves. You have to get
your head tested to ride on the arterial routes.

Lucky bugger to have off road routes available!

Not so Cornwall. I'm on the eastern edge of Bodmin Moor - the A30 is the only road
east-west (a motorway), and the only road north-south narrows to less than two cars
wide in parts though some traffic still goes down it at 60 mph. The building group
building 'luxury houses' (impossibility houses for locals) in the field behind my
house advertises itself as being 30 mins from Plymouth and Padstow - which all local
people know is a 45 min drive journey on average. I've asked the company to stop
lieing as i cycle on the south bound road and would prefer to live - they are just so
unconcerned it makes me want to scream! All the other roads around are one car lanes,
nice for tootling along, but a nightmare for A to B stuff with the right hand bends
at bottom of hills, farmdogs snapping around your ankles, let alone 'speeding' cars.

You are lucky you have a cycle path to go along at all! The NCN isn't much cop for
local regular cyclists here - it is just a leisure route. For me to go by Route 3 to
Bodmin (14 miles by motorway), picking it up on Davidstow Common and going mostly on
road/one car lane would take about 3 hours - impractical as hell! Taking Route 3 the
other way goes by little lanes again all the way to Bude. I'd go on the Atlantic
Highway (A road) if I really wanted to cycle to Bude. It takes about an hour to cycle
to the Camel trail (allowing for the times you have to stop to let cars past on the
narrow lanes!)

Last winter I was working in NE Thailand and Laos for 3 months. Hired bicycles in
most places - sometimes heavy one gear Chinese bikes, sometimes Chinese crap 18 gear
(broken) mountain bikes, sometimes half reasonable bikes. But everywhere it was a
pleasure to cycle as there was virtually no traffic at all. Locals were on motorbikes
or mopeds, but all going at no-rush speed - probably about 20-30 mph, even out of
built up areas. Since being back, I really have not enjoyed cycling as much, the car
drivers here are just too dangerous - completely unaware.

Accidents (inc some details, but there you go!)

I lived in London for about 7 years and cycled everywhere. I had a few accidents all
involving car drivers. Only two come strongly to mind, but probably another two
injurious ones in all.  Say, one every 18 months, and approx every 6000 miles.

* Driver turning L into road, didn't stop or see me. Ambulance job.

* Driver opened car door without looking (in stationary traffic (jam) - I was cycling
slowly on outside) . Ambulance job. New bike from compensation.

As courier (Melbourne) cycled 8 hours a day, five days a week. (In 2 months only one
other accident to another courier - a driver at a crossroads, ambulance job. 10
couriers altogether.) Maybe covered about 80 -100 km a day? No idea! (Equals
3000-4000 miles between the two accidents)

* Road construction: Company had air vent grille on driveway laid like a wrong way
round cattle grid. My front wheel went into the gap and i over the top. Time off work
(and then got a safer, indoor job!).

In New Zealand

* Pedestrian hesitating at pedestrian lights, stepping on/off pavement (long, steep
downhill). I slowed right down and tried to guess her moves, she stepped in front, I
swerved to avoid her and slithered along road to stop just beyond her. At which she
asked me if the lights were green for her to cross! (I guess she was part-blind, but
that didn't occur at the time!)

In Cornwall

* Nothing serious in 8 years, but I work at home now and don't cycle as much. It's
more pleasant but also more dangerous than in London!

Did a lot of cycle touring in Australia - no serious accidents.

Grew up on bicycle in Shropshire - no serious accidents.

I think the statement about Asia says it all - you need to get everyone to slow down
the pace of their lives, become Buddhists etc, then they'll stop driving like
maniacs, and cycles can go back on the roads, AND there will be no need for cyclists
in training  to race down cycle paths.

Cheers Robin


I have a couple of comments:

Before we moved here last July we frequently walked in Epping Forest where
a large number of "rides" had been created (not public rights of way, but
routes specifically designated through the forest for horseriding - the
whole of the Forest is accessible as part of the Epping Forest Act of 1879)

Surfaces varied. Some rides were across grassland and were closed if there
was a danger of damage from horseriding. Other rides were given all-weather
treatment (not tarmac). Cycling is permitted on rides and there is conflict
between cyclists, horseriders and pedestrians. You may obtain further (and
maybe more up to date) information from the custodians of Epping Forest
(City of London Corporation, The Warren Lodge, Epping New Road, Loughton)
or from the Friends of Epping Forest (c/o Peggy Bitten, 9 Frederica Road,
Chingford, E4). The Friends and others have been trying to get cycling
banned in Epping Forest.

Since we've been in Cornwall, the Cornish Cycle Way has been in the news a

Where the cycle route was over existing bridleways, surface treatment
(tarmac) was unsuitable for horseriding and a surface suitable for
horseriding and walkers (and cyclists too, I guess) has been used between
Twelveheads and Bissoe. It's a looser surface, but cyclists will still be
able to travel fast. The main problem with this section is that it is 3m
wide with no width restriction at entry points - the danger here is
four-wheel vehicles.

Hope this is helpful



Hi Andy

I feel I should offer you some comment, as a cyclist, walker and driver - and I
sympathise completely with the problem of speed/nuisance cyclists.

Really the bottom line is that just as pedestrians and cars don't mix on the same bit
of 'track', nor do walkers and cyclists, and the engineers/designers have made
mistakes to assume them part of the same category of off-road user.

I worked as a cycle courier for a while (in Melbourne, Aus), when I was at my most
manic. With a courier T-shirt on there are 'dangerous' things you can do on a bike
because EVERYONE sees you, things that are not available when you take that T-shirt
off (because you are not seen, obviously). It was on a mixture of roads, tram tracks,
and the occasional cycle path. And inevitably, the pavement (with or without
pedestrians), one way streets the wrong way, jumping traffic lights - all the bad
stuff which I completely condone, and worse, all at top speed.

What I'm really trying to say is that sometimes cyclists need to go fast - otherwise
there is no point in them using their bikes! Just like you can't expect cars to drive
EVERYWHERE at 20 mph, or slower, ALL the time. Though it would be nice when I want to
cycle along the A30 motorway (the only route open to me across Bodmin Moor)! If
someone is using a cycle path to go to/from work for instance, they will want to go
at fullish speed and not leisure pace. Otherwise roads will be no-go and cycle paths
not worth it - what option is left?

I've cycled on the Camel trail (leisure pace) and there are times when people are
walking right across the path, you can be right behind them going beepbeep and they
just don't hear you. You have to stop. Sometimes you can squeeze through, sometimes
you are going past at a slow speed (after going beepbeep) and they step out in front
of you. It works both ways! Walkers can be dangerous even when a cyclist is at
walking pace!

From the point of view of a walker being 'threatened' by cycles (rollerblades and
skate boards inc), I've had a fair
share of youngsters. I just step out of the way but turn to look at them, greet them,
and politely suggest they might want to slow down. I certainly wouldn't want to see
sleeping policemen, double gates and other speed deterrents appearing on the paths -
they'd just become path deterrents!

what would be a possibility - maybe (I have only just thought of it, so probably
crap!) - would be to have poles dividing the path at a certain distance from each
other, like central lines. They'd be staggered enough so that at speed you wouldn't
be able to cross between them on a bike, but would have to slow down. Then there
would be a physical divide between walkers and cyclists, and a cyclist wanting to
overtake another, or pass (face-on) to another would have to use the walkers side but
would have to slow down to do it. The obvious downside is ugliness, and possible
accidents while cycling along and looking somewhere else!

another alternative is to lay a single tram track/sunken rail on the 'divide'. As a
courier we often cycled between the tram tracks to bypass cars, and for personal
safety (from cars). But you can't cross over a track at speed, you have to turn on to
it almost at right angles. But this could be dangerous too. Think I'll give up having
bright ideas!

Wishing you luck with solution finding, sorry if this of no use.

Robin Paris

19 November 2001
Mr. Mike Link
Head of Transport & Planning Policy
West Sussex County Council
The Grange
Tower Street
PO19  1RH

Dear Mr Link,

Cycling Representations to the Transport Forum

Specific to the Adur Valley and its environs (cycling distance from).

These are personal opinions from a cyclist who has regularly cycled 3000 miles a year for the last 20 years. The opinions remain my own but have been tested on the Urban Cyclist Eforum and some of their opinions have been taken on board. Also, I have conducted my own EMail survey of local cyclist accidents which seem to correspond very closely to the official statistics.

They represent the cycling point of view and very little account has been taken for the need of other road users, although the inevitable interaction with other road and path users has been considered.

I have avoided pointing out the statistics because I am sure that you are familiar with all the facts and can look them up. However, the DETR and other figures have been consulted and this is intended to be an addenda to the official statistics and I may concentrate on issues that statistics are unlikely to cover and are intended to represent the practical problems facing cyclists on the local roads. Likewise, local transport policies have been looked at.


However, just a quick mention of some statistics that have been consulted, to put the issues in perspective.

Over 66% of cycle accident accidents were the fault of the motor vehicle driver. The cyclist error figure was not given, but my survey indicated a figure of about 12%.  (Adur Cycling Strategy and WSCC Cycle Strategy).

Per kilometre travelled, pedal cyclists are 14 times as likely to be killed or seriously injured (KSI) in a road accident than car drivers. This compares to 19 times as dangerous for pedestrians with a high proportion of elderly fatalities on the roads. (DETR figures).

My Survey

My survey of 55 local cyclist accidents (involving damage or injury only) of all sorts gave the following figures:

Motorist error  26
Cyclist error   8
Poor road or path conditions  5
Debris  5
Other cyclists  3
Adverse weather   3
Pedestrian walking in the road  2
Others 3

However, the opinions also include lots of near misses, accidents not involving injury and dangerous situations. Most of these involved motorists.

Cycling in Adur

Because it is flat, cycling is quite an efficient way of getting around the urban area centred on Shoreham and the country area to the north. Some of the routes are quite interesting as well. One tremendous advantage is the slam door trains that allow bicycles, buggies etc on them free of charge without prior reservations.

However, it the last 5 years, there has been an increase in traffic and the number of incidents have also increased to such an extent that I seriously considered giving up cycling at one time, because the danger did not warrant the convenience. However, I was already habituated to going by bicycle and the walking alternative was even more dangerous, if anything.

Where was all the traffic coming from, I asked. It is hard to tell exactly, but an important contributory factor was all the new housing being erected in Shoreham, without any increase in road capacity. This conclusion was reached because the traffic levels were also too high on Saturdays and it was local traffic on the residential roads where the increase was noticed, not helped by being crashed into by three motorists after the houses in Middle Road, Shoreham, were erected.

Now residential roads in the Adur district are still generally OK to cycle on, although the volume is really at its maximum, and there are a few tricky bits. The best remedy would be if a few drivers used their bikes instead of their cars, if the new houses have room to store a bicycle or two.

So the idea for cycling is to use the residential roads (where all the accidents occurred) and a few paths to cycle safely for short distances.

Arterial Routes

However, the arterial routes (Built-up Major Roads) are a different matter altogether. These are the A27 and A259 routes which are perceived as too dangerous for cyclists. Statistics will not indicate as they are eschewed by cyclists, if possible. These are the routes east-west. The south-north routes used by the port traffic can be unpleasant with heavy goods vehicles, but this is just an occasional, frequent sometimes, nuisance for cyclists.

I realise in the days of the Buchanan traffic policies of the late 1960s a commendable policy of encouraging the port traffic on to the A27 by-pass was encouraged. However, it is no longer the port traffic that presents the greatest problems for cyclists.

However, it is this policy that both helps and causes a particular serious problems for cyclists.


The Old Shoreham Toll Bridge provides a splendid route (or at least it did until the temporary barriers were put up) to avoid the A27 which is far too dangerous for cyclists. However, it meets up with the A27 near the Sussex Pad. What is need is a cycle route to avoid the dangerous bit up the Lancing Manor roundabout where cyclists can use residential roads to go to Worthing, where some main roads are a bit daunting.

Serious Problems:

The A259 coast road is a different problem altogether. For most of its route it is too narrow or too fast, or both. Although, the road looks innocuous, the A259 from Shoreham High Street to Worthing is about as dangerous road as any cyclist can encounter. This means that when a motorist passes a cyclist he goes too close to the cyclist, by necessity. Sometimes, there is no alternative road route. There are problems with too much traffic, large drains, roundabouts, parked cars (doors opening suddenly), driveways, too high speed limits (40), lots of heavy goods vehicles and exposed bits where the wind can blow the cyclist about as well as lots of debris.

Splendid Routes

The cycle path from Old Shoreham to Bramber and further north is an excellent cycle facility but could be improved.

Special Problems

Traffic calming rarely confers benefits to cyclists.

Humps of all types:  These are just a plain nuisance and a hazard to cyclists. The reason is because cars slow down and speed up at the approach to these humps and this makes it difficult for the cyclist to judge the position of the car behind me.

Chicanes:  These confer no benefit to cyclists. They cause a pinch point where some motorists will try to squeeze past. They would be OK if they have a through route for cyclists. However, of all the traffic calming methods, these are the best as they do allow a crossing point for elderly pedestrians, and might be preferred to zebra crossings.

Mini-roundabouts:  These can be confusing for just about everyone, for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers and where they have replaced T -junctions may be contra-indicated.

Cycle Lanes

Cycle lanes painted on the roads from the London experience may confer very little benefit to cyclists even at the approached to traffic lights, because they are ignored by motorists, and more importantly they encourage a tendency to undertaking which is bad policy cycling and causes accidents.

Cycle Paths

In urban areas, narrow paths are more dangerous than roads, because cyclists coming the other way have to squeeze past. Blind junctions, paths leading to dangerous roads, and general bad design have given these urban cycle paths a bad name, but they are still OK in principle, but it is better not to have them than have a badly designed one. Well used urban cycle paths need to be at least 3 metres wide. Cyclists will not use them if they have to keep stopping and starting.

Mobile Phones

A particular problem for cyclists and possibly even worse for pedestrians. It is too early to make conclusions, but the main problems seems to be lack of signalling  by motorists and stopping suddenly. Swerving all over the road is not so bad, cyclists learn to expect that occasionally. Fitted mobile phones for van drivers, although still having the distraction factor (slowed reaction times), may improve the lack of signalling which is so annoying and potentially dangerous. Failure to signal by motor vehicle drivers is far worse than the behaviour of cyclists on the road.


1) The most useful use of any funds allocated to cycle facilities would be provision of paths to avoid particularly dangerous arterial roads, perhaps alongside, but not necessarily.

e.g. to avoid the dangerous A27 from the Sussex Pad to Lancing, and
to by-pass the A259 Broadway between Shoreham and Worthing, the whole route is too dangerous for cyclists.

2) Stop high density developments and town cramming above the old guidelines in Local Plans where the road infrastructure is inadequate..

(In other words the Lord Rogers ideas are rejected to be a chimera. From a cycling perspective the cycling accident and casualty figures escalate in high density areas (DETR figures). Doubtless this is because of the increased number of motor vehicles. There are a lot of other things wrong with Lord Roger's ideas, but these are outside of transport policy.)

3) Do NOT expect legislation to prevent motorists crashing into cyclists. Reducing speed limits will not make much difference either. The problem is motorists getting distracted and losing concentration. With increasing traffic, motorists will have to learn to drive more carefully to avoid bumping into each other.

The only real answer is reducing the amount of traffic. One way to do that would be to close some roads and make them cyclist only. Practically, it might be best to resist any demands to turn cycle routes into roads to justify high density housing developments. Get them to pay for a new road at a horrendous cost and keep the cycle path.


Cycling is a sustainable and practical way of getting around at the present time. But only just about.

This would alter:

If lots of new houses are built where there are inadequate roads.

If the new trains refuse to allow bicycles without reservations.

Or if new cycle routes are not built to avoid busy roads. (parents will discourage their children from cycling).

More controversially:

1)  Cycling should be allowed the wrong way down one-way streets unless specifically excluded.

(The painting of cycle lanes on these roads has not been entirely successful as car drivers do not expect the lane to be there and sometimes they have no way of knowing. If the onus switched, cars would be looking out for cyclists like they should be looking out for pedestrians.)

2) Cycling (and electric buggies) should be allowed on all paths except when they are pedestrian only precincts, where they are pavements bounded by house shops or driveways, near blind person homes, or on narrow bridges or up narrow twittens. This will allow cycling on paths adjoining roads where it would be safer for cyclists, on pavements bordered by parks and green spaces.

(Cyclists will only use such routes when the road is perceived to be too dangerous. Note the use of the word "perceived". Accident statistics do not reveal the full story, because cyclists will eschew dangerous roads, and most accidents occur at innocuous looking junctions.)

Yours sincerely,

Andy Horton.
(EMail messages are not monitored by third parties.)

Adur Valley