ACCIDENTS involving cyclists and pedestrians have increased dramatically over the past two years.
The number of accidents has risen sharply putting pressure on ministers to cut these worrying rates by investing in more safety measures.
Official figures released by Transport Scotland reveal that there was a 13% rise in the number of cyclists suffering serious injuries in 2011 compared to 2010.
The number of seriously injured pedestrians increased by 12% for the same time period.
Politicians, transport campaigners and cycling and walking groups have now demanded that Scottish ministers increase funding for cycle lanes, foot paths, improved roads and stricter speed limits to prevent more injuries and deaths.
Alison Johnstone, who co-convenes the Scottish Parliament’s cross-party group on cycling and is a Green MSP, has accused Scottish ministers of failing to tackle road conditions which are putting cyclists and pedestrians at risk.
She said: “To see so many more people seriously injured while on their bike or while trying to cross a street is shocking.
“I hope it makes the SNP government realise that its response has been weak- nothing more than a fig leaf.
“It’s incredibly frustrating to see ministers yet again reviewing an aspirational cycle action plan rather than delivering real action.”
The report showed that the number of cyclists seriously injured on Scottish roads rose from 138 in 2010 to 156 in 2011, reversing the decreasing trend of previous years.
Seven cyclists had died in both 2010 and 2011.
The number of pedestrians suffering serious injuries increased from 457 in 2010 to 513 in 2011 with the number of pedestrians killed falling slightly from 47 to 43.
In the same time period, the number of people travelling in cars who suffered serious injuries dropped 16% from 902 to 756 while the number of motorcyclists with serious injuries fell 8% from 319 to 293.
Ms Johnstone has demanded a firm timescale for action and the reversal of cuts to council road maintenance budgets so dangerous potholes can be repaired.
She added: “We should consider the kind of road-user hierarchy that is commonplace elsewhere in Europe and assumes liability on the part of the heavier vehicle.
“This would dramatically improve driver behaviour and make cyclist take care around pedestrians.”
Experts have claimed that the increase in cycling injuries far exceeds the estimated 1-2% increase in the number of actual cyclists on the roads.
They also suggest that serious accidents are more frequent on rural roads compared on slow city streets.
A recent analysis of cycle injuries for the Department of Transport found that two-thirds of crashes involved adult cyclists with police saying it was the fault of the driver with only one in five accidents blaming solely the cyclist.
Davie Morris, director of Rambles Scotland, feels the current level of funding for walking and cycling is hopeless.
He said: “Accident to cyclists and pedestrians will continue to increase while the Scottish and UK governments give too much priority to the motor vehicle over other forms of travel.”
Cycling groups have cautioned the Scottish Government claiming that they would not meet the target for one in ten journeys to be made by bike by 2020 unless transport funding was boosted from 1% to 5%.
Cycling Scotland, an agency funded by the Scottish Government to promote cycling, said that accident rates were lower than they were 10 years ago and that statistically, Scotland was twice as safe compared to the rest of the UK.
However, Ian Aitken, the agency’s chief executive, said: “This increase in accident rates needs to be taken very seriously and all possible measures should be put in place to ensure we return to the downward trend in cycling injuries.
“Transport Scotland recognised that there was still “much to do” to improve the safety of cyclist and pedestrians.”
A spokeswoman for the agency said: “Since 2007 we have invested over £83 million on promoting active travel and improving facilities and infrastructure.
“Earlier this year we announced and additional £20m for infrastructure to support active travel over the next three year.
“We will continue to encourage local authorities to make cycling a priority in their areas, and promote more 20 mph zones in urban areas.”