Bicycling Fatality Rates: The Most Dismal Economic Indicator We've Heard Of

single speed bicycle

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

We’ve heard our fair share of unconventional economic indicators ranging from the Latvian hooker index to the men’s underwear indicator.  However, this one may be the gloomiest of the bunch.It’s the cycling fatalities indicator.

According to official figures published by the UK’s Department for Transport, cycling fatalities appear to increase during recessions, reports The Guardian’s Mark King.

The number of cyclists killed in the UK has risen during three of the last four recessions, according to figures from the Department for Transport (DfT). The data suggests that, when commuters swap expensive train, tube and car travel for cheaper bicycles during periods of austerity, the death toll rises.

The DfT’s 2011 annual report on UK road casualties shows that cyclist deaths across the UK rose by 7% last year, up from 104 in 2009 to 111 in 2010, just as many of the government austerity measures were kicking in. In the first half of this year the number of cyclists killed or seriously hurt on UK roads rose 12% year-on-year. Cycle deaths also rose by 58% between 1930 and 1935 and by 14% between 1980 and 1984. After both the 1930s and the 1980s recessions, the number of cycle fatalities fell back once again.

What’s causing this rise in fatalities?  Well, King interviewed one expert who believes it’s because there just more people with more time to spend on bikes during downturns.

Charlie Lloyd, of the London Cycling Campaign, said: “Cycling fatalities in general are not getting any worse. It is likely that any increase in the number of fatalities during a recession is related to an increase in the number of cyclists. More people get on their bike or spend more time on a bike during a recession.”

SEE ALSO: The 21 Most BIZARRE Economic Indicators >

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