I don’t want to die

Posted by on March 11, 2013 in general thoughts | 9 comments

I don’t want to die

“…Bournemouth has the highest death rate of cyclists outside of London…”

Ummm… say, what?? 

Did I hear that right? 

Yes, apparently I did.

You see, last week I was invited to attend the Bournemouth Cycle Forum and this little point had casually been dropped into the conversation during the evening.

Now, I was quite surprised to hear this.

Important note: both posts relate to casualty rate, which are accidents and injuries not fatalities.

I’m a pretty active cyclist who reads his local paper regularly and sees all too often stories about local accidents… but this… THIS was news to me.

So I asked… and yes, apparently, it’s “all there in the LSTF bid”. Ah yes, how silly of me, I mean, we’ve all read that haven’t we?

What? You haven’t?

Well, I had heard it mentioned in the Echo (we’re getting about £3/4 million locally)… so I dug it out when I got home.  Not the easiest bugger to find, although once you open it up there is this delightful passage on page 1:

“Bournemouth has a very high cycling potential but suffers a high cycle casualty rate.” 

Source: Bournemouth Borough Council LSTF bid 

Oh Dorset, how quaint and lovely, we “suffer” from that do we? Not at all affected by any decisions we make in road planning or local politics at all of course…

Whoa, hold on a minute. That’s not quite the droids numbers I’m looking for. Lets have a deeper look in… oh, there it is, on page 8:

So for 3 out of the last 6 years that we have data for, Bournemouth is the “worst performing”, or to put it in plain English: we have the highest death rate (*1 see important note) for cyclists per 100,000 population (outside of London).

Being a bit of a stats nerd, I went to find if there were any newer figures available and thanks to the excellent new gov.uk site (seriously, if you haven’t already go and have a look. Brilliant.) there are:

We’re back up the charts to number 2 in 2011!

Source: gov.uk – DfT statistics
(2012 stats will be out in Sept. 2013 in case you were wondering – oh, and who’s that at number 3? Why it’s Poole…)

Now that’s kind of scary.

After finding all this out, I felt I had to write a blog about it, in the hope that maybe you’d find it quite scary stuff too and maybe… just maybe, we could put some pressure on the councillors to do something a bit quicker than they are now.

Actually, I don’t blame them entirely: I think we need to tell our colleagues, neighbours and friends to stand up and say “this isn’t acceptable” too.

The councillors have said they want Bournemouth to become more sustainable: have the residents cycle more, use their cars less but seem to suffer from a form of “I don’t want to risk upsetting my voters” NIMBYism when it comes to ACTUALLY doing anything… pity.

So whatever you think about “pesky” cyclists, I hope we can stand together and say that Bournemouth is a beautiful place with lots of potential for safer cycling in our lovely open spaces if we made a few compromises… and maybe, just maybe there’d be a few less deaths.

What can you do?

  • Leave a comment
  • Share this post
  • Email your local councillor and/or MP

Full list of sources:



1) The National Statistics casualty data used is accidents/injuries per 100,000 – not fatalities.

2) I’ve done a deeper analysis on the original data and technically Bournemouth comes second to Portsmouth – see “I don’t want to die – the numbers

3) There’s been a lot of press interest, if you see an article please stick it in the comments. Ta!


  1. These stats are a great surprise, but then again, possibly not. As a Bomo resident of many, many years during my late teens and early twenties, my beloved Bournemouth lays rest to the single most horrific bike accident I’ve ever experienced. Coming from cemetery junction towards town centre, crossing Richmond Hill roundabout (on the flyover), I was broadsided by a car that had come up the slip road and onto roundabout without stopping. End result with me having 18 months of medication, ultrasound, physio and a legal claim against the driver. Bike written off and my body took a proper beating. This was in the late 90’s. But riding 300 pedal bike miles week during the mid 90’s, I found myself subjected to plenty of near scrapes from Bournemouth to Poole. Sad to see that the stats haven’t altered much in last 6 years.

  2. Interesting. I watched a video you put on YouTube a while back, filmed whilst cycling through Charminster I think.

    Cycling round the streets of Bournemouth is dangerous, and the provided cycle lanes are terrible in my opinion.

    Other towns have really cool cycle routes, even nearby in Wiltshire there are some excellent ones. The ones in Bournemouth are a joke.

  3. At Bournemouth Uni, given I don’t have access to the secure bike pen, there was nowhere to lock my bike that wasn’t plastered with warnings that it would be removed.

    Bournemouth Station is also a hotspot for cycle crime (so I hear, I was warned, and on the one occassion I locked my bike there, the lock took a good beating but won).

    And now these stats, things do not look good at the moment. What can we do to fix it???

  4. Sadly I find that the LSTF is more of a PR exercise than a programme to ‘Create growth and cut carbon’ as it claims.

    Here’s my experience from Swindon, and, while there are good bits, you’re dead right: inconveniencing motorists is a vote loser, regardless of how good it might be for a town.


  5. I have commuted on bike from Boscombe to Poole for the last ten years. As you can imagine I have seen it all and have been knocked down twice.
    I believe the council could do so much more in making our roads safer although I would say a huge majority of errors I see every day are human ones.
    Let’s not forget the vehicle we use to get from A to B and the roads we use are only half of the problem.
    People need to take responsibility for how they drive or ride.
    Today I saw a driver using his lap top whilst driving. The complete idiot is more of a threat to me than a narrow or non existent cycle lane.

  6. Informative and scary! I cycle to Ferndown from Richmond Hill everyday so I’m aware how risky it can be. I try to be as road safe as I can hi-vis, lights and stopping at junctions/lights as we all should but still sometimes feel like it’s a bit hairy out there. Just this evening I had someone tooting their horn and I’m not sure why! I’ll move as far left as I can but this is my road too! However give me a proper cycle lane and I’ll be on it, not the 10m sections they’ve got in Moordown riddled with pot holes…

  7. Thanks Luke. That was an interesting and quick read. Thankfully throughout the years I rode around Bournemouth I never collided with another vehicle. However, I did make many quick manoeuvres to avoid what may have resulted in serious accidents. A particular large Royal Mail truck comes to mind. Yikes. One must remain alert at all times.

  8. Hi Luke

    I am working on a piece in cyclist safety for The Breaker, where I work as a Reporter and would love to ask you a few questions. Please feel free to get in touch by email or twitter (yessi_kbello), more than happy to give you a call! Many thanks

  9. Sorry I missed this, it got lost in spam comments somehow – I’m not a spokesperson for local cycling, try the Bournemouth Cycle Forum I’m sure someone will help


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