With the arrival of fine weather, the number of cyclists on the roads increases and, with them, also increases the risk of fatal accidents. The summer holidays have not yet started and the figures transmitted by Road Safety are already alarming, with 22 deaths of cyclists recorded in May, an increase of 10% compared to last year, (20 deaths), and 27% compared to 2019, (6 deaths). And contrary to what one might think, the vast majority of fatal accidents take place outside built-up areas, when cycling is used as a sport and leisure activity.

“Each year, more than 60% of cyclists who die after an accident ride outside cities,” explains Thibault Quéré, advocacy manager at the French Federation of Bicycle Users (FUB). “The high speed of the cars on these roads creates such a differential with the cyclist that the latter has very little chance of getting out of it”. Because if you die on a bike, it’s because the cyclist is “crushed, hit, grazed by a car”, he specifies. An increased risk due to the clear recovery in traffic (10% over one year), the end of the 80 km/h speed limit on national and departmental roads and the increase in cycling among the French ( 39% compared to 2019).

Cycling in the city also remains a risky activity, due to an often poorly thought-out urban development policy. “If so many accidents occur, it is because we put people on the same road who do not make the same use of it”, notes Thibault Quéré, before citing the measures taken in certain European countries such as the United Kingdom or Sweden, which are developing cycle paths separated from the road and installing speed regulators.

To adapt users to an unsafe urban space, the FUB offers education sessions on mobility by bicycle. “We explain to cyclists how to find their way, feel comfortable in a risky environment and communicate with other road users”, underlines the advocacy manager. Because according to Damien Julliard, deputy to the ministerial delegate for road safety, interviewed by France 3, this increase in deaths is also explained by “the deterioration in the behavior of all users, and not only cyclists.”

On the side of motorists, raising awareness of the proper respect of the measures of the Highway Code made to protect cyclists from the dangers of death seems necessary, so that they keep in mind rules such as those which require that a gap be left more than one meter when double cycling or when not parking on the cycle lanes. This is a public policy issue that should be urgently addressed by a country which organizes, each year, one of the most beautiful cycling tours in the world.