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J R Soc Med. 2007 January; 100(1): 8.
PMCID: PMC1761680

THE LANGUAGE OF HEALTH CARE

Walking and cycling transport safety

I have recently read ‘Walking and cycling transport safety: an analysis of child road deaths’ by Sonkin et al.1 and wish to comment as follows:

Sonkin et al. describe walking and cycling as ‘poor relations in terms of transport safety’, though if one comes off the roads and factors in trains and planes then cars would look rather poor, but this does not seem to affect the keenness with which cars are used. The fact is that cars are perceived to be safe ‘enough’, and if one looks at accidents per unit time rather than per unit distance then a comparable degree of safety to cars can be found for cycling and walking over a lifetime, with 0.55 deaths per 10 million miles accounting for very few deaths in a lifetime of cycling (even keen adults using cycles for everyday transport will typically travel much less than 5000 miles per year).

The conclusion that ‘more needs to be done’ is something that will, inevitably, always be true of transport safety for all modalities, but a first step is realising the true degree of danger. In the UK (and other countries where there is no longer a culture of walking or cycling for transport) the perception that walking and especially cycling is uncommonly dangerous compared to other day-to-day activities is a perception, not a fact.

Notes

Competing interests None declared.

References

1. Sonkin B, Edwards P, Roberts I, Green J. Walking and cycling transport safety: an analysis of child road deaths. J Roy Soc Med 2006;99: 402-5 [PMC free article] [PubMed]

Articles from Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine are provided here courtesy of Royal Society of Medicine Press