Tuesday 24 April 2012

Road Safety Failure by Minister

Mike Penning, the Minister for Road Safety, asserted today that the Dutch could learn from us about road safety. This infuriated cyclists, yet again, by complete misusing statistics. He claims there are 5 times fewer deaths in the UK than in the Netherlands.

Let's have a better look at this. I've put the details up in a Google Document.

Essentially, stating deaths per 100,000 population takes no account of how many cyclists are actually cycling, or how far they are going. Most people involved in this kind of statistical analysis like to look at the rate per head per km annually.

Steadily building up a picture just shows how disingenuous the original claim is. I've quoted my sources (apart from assuming Mike Penning's initial claim).

Just taking into account the different population sizes, the Netherlands has around 139 deaths per year compared to the 105 in the UK, getting near the same.

Then, working out the death rate per 100,000 cyclists shows the Netherlands has around 3.11 deaths per year compared to the 8.50 in the UK. Suddenly the UK's record is starting to look a little ropey.

Finally, factoring in how much cycling is done, the death rate per Km per 100million cyclists is a 0.92 in the Netherlands  compared to the 2.33 in the UK. Suddenly, in comparison the UK's record looks terrible, with around 3 times the death rate. This is 15 times worse than the Minister for Road Safety claims.

It completely defies any kind of logic that the Minister for Road Safety would miss this and try to claim a better record. He's incompetence or wilful arrogance suggests he is not capable of doing the job.

Penning Statement
Population Statistics
Cycling Trends
Cycling Rates 


  1. How can we have people who are so clueless about modern transport in charge of OUR roads/streets? I feel a letter writing marathon coming on.

  2. It is the sort thing you'd expect from the country which takes the Taliban approach to road safety!

  3. I think you need to correct the spelling and grammar in this post (eg. fewer, not less). Also there's an error in your spreadsheet - last line 100,000,000 cyclists?

    Otherwise, great.

    1. Thanks Chris, or Mum, or Brian Sewell. I love having my grammar corrected ;-)

      As far as the 100m cyclists, I think it's a understanding issue that I rushed. It's probably better to say 100m cyclist kilometres. The figure is correct as it's used in the calculations in the orginal spreadsheet.

  4. Mexico has the highest death rates per 100,000 km traveled by motor car of any OECD country. But the number of cyclists killed per 100,000 population in large cities like Mexico City or Monterrey is extremely low. Mike Penning should visit these cities to learn about the Mexican approach to cyclists' safety...

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