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Cycling in Scotland: review of cycling casualties

Date: February 2020
Category: Report
Author: Mairi Young and Bruce Whyte

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This review combines analysis of reported cycling casualties in Scotland over a 23-year period from 1995-2018, with a literature review of under-reporting of casualties and near misses. 

Over the period examined, cycling casualties reduced by more than half, and far fewer children were casualties in 2018 compared with 1995. However, the rate of serious injuries and fatalities increased by 18% between 2004-2018. The majority (84%) of cycling casualties involved a car, and one-in-ten were hit and run incidents. 

Pedestrian injuries caused by a collision with a cyclist were rare, and there is no evidence that e-bikes are more likely to be involved in a crash compared to a pedal bike. 

The research highlights issues with data quality and completeness. For example, reported cycling casualties with slight and serious injuries are underestimated by half, and near misses are a daily experience for cyclists but are considerably under-reported. This points to an urgent need for new and accurate reporting of cycling casualties and more detailed monitoring of who cycles in order to really understand risk, behaviour change and trends. 

The research emphasises the importance of continuing to build on the strong commitment to active travel in Scotland and makes several recommendations including sustained government investment to increase spending levels in line with European cities with high-levels of cycling; lower road speeds; a comprehensive safe cycling infrastructure; and improvements in police enforcement and investigation of cycling casualties. 

Download the executive summary and recommendations (PDF)

Read our news article about this research 

Cycling casualties infographic - for a transcript or an accessible version please email