The Cycling Action Plan for Scotland (CAPS), published in 2010 has a vision that "By 2020, 10% of all journeys taken in Scotland will be by bike". Cycling provides many health and environmental benefits, and there has been much publicity to encourage an increase in the numbers of people cycling and walking to help improve health and fitness. However, cycling also involves a certain level of risk because cyclists have little protection if they are hit by a motor vehicle.

In Scotland, the long term trend shows that cyclist casualties have decreased. However, casualty figures revealed an increase in the numbers of pedestrians and cyclists injured on Scotland's roads. While this is worrying, this is only a one year figure and does not necessarily indicate a trend. It is not inevitable that more cycling will result in more cyclist casualties.

ScORSA would like to encourage all road users to become familiar with the Highway Code and their responsibilities to ensure the safety of themselves and of other road users. ScORSA is designed to assist businesses manage occupational road risk. The following information is designed to encourage employers and businesses to play a major part in promoting safer cycling through the workplace.

Whether you have staff cycling or walking for work on behalf of the organisation, are simply commuters to and from work; or undertake cycling and walking activities for leisure purposes, encouraging a safety culture will help to tackle absenteeism due to injury and at the same time continue to promote a healthy lifestyle.

Cycling for Work

HSE Driving for Work guidance document which outlines responsibilities regarding the management of occupational road risk states "This guidance applies to any employer, manager or supervisor with staff who drive, or ride a motorcycle or bicycle at work, and in particularly those with responsibility for fleet management. It also applies to self-employed people. Employees and trade union appointed safety representatives will also find it helpful. It covers people whose main job is driving, and those who drive or ride occasionally or for short distances. References to drivers and driving include riders and riding"

Where can you find training, advice and information for cyclists?

Cycling Scotland is a registered charity funded by Transport Scotland to encourage cycling. Cycling Scotland's website provides a wealth of information on cycle training for professionals cycling for work, for commuters cycling to work and for leisure cycling. Among other things Cycling Scotland promotes the Cycle Friendly Employer Scheme and makes available adult cycle training across Scotland.

What are the Key Messages for Consideration?

  • Does the rider have the ability, experience to ride safely in the traffic conditions s/he will face?
  • Does the rider have good Highway Code knowledge and understanding?
  • Is this an appropriate means of transport for the task in hand?
  • Is the bicycle properly maintained and roadworthy?
  • Is the bicycle properly equipped if used for carrying loads?
  • Does the bicycle have front and rear lighting and reflectors to the appropriate British Standard, and does this still apply to use after dark?
  • Is the correct safety equipment being used (e.g. cycle helmets, bells, high visibility /reflective clothing, weatherproof clothing)?
  • Is there appropriate insurance in place?
  • Are there cycle parking facilities available?

Sample Risk Assessment of Cycling for Work Purposes

Click here for pdf version

Activity: Cycling for Work Purposes.

(Note: Work purposes means cycling in order to carry out work duties. It does not include commuting or riding for personal purposes. Examples of 'work purposes' include riding to a meeting or a cycle courier.)

Potential Hazards Possible Control Measures Addtional Action Required/Comment

Cyclists are among the most vulnerable road users. Common types of cycling Accidents include:

  • Motorist emerging into path of cyclist
  • Motorist turning across path of cyclist
  • Cyclist riding into the path of a vehicle, especially when riding off a pavement or when turning right
  • Motorist overtaking a cyclist

Most cycling accidents happen in urban areas; almost two thirds of serious cyclist accidents occur at, or near, a junction.

Almost half of cyclist deaths occur on rural roads

The most common vehicles involved are cars or taxis, but HGVs present a particular danger for cyclists – some 20% of cyclist fatalities involve an HGV. These often occur when an HGV is turning left at a junction'.

The most common key contributory factor in accidents between a cyclist and another vehicle is 'failed to look properly'.

'Failed to look properly' is attributed to the car driver in 57% of serious collisions and to the cyclist in 43% of serious collisions at junctions.

Other common factors attributed to drivers are 'poor turn/manoeuvre' and 'careless, reckless, in a hurry.

The second most common contributory factor attributed to cyclists is 'cyclist entering the road from the pavement.'

Other risk factors for cyclists can include:

  • Poor road surfaces and Unroadworthy bicycles.
  • Carrying improperly secured items
  • Weather conditions
  • Long journeys
  • Cyclist fitness (eg. eyesight, medication, drugs, alcohol)
  • Cyclist distraction (MP3 players)

Within company policy and practice: Consider cyclists requirements

  • Ensure cycling is a suitable form of transport for the task.
  • Ensure the bicycle is roadworthy, meets the requirements of the Highway Code and is in kept in good working order.
  • Ensure the bicycle is the right size, and correctly adjusted for, the rider.
  • Ensure the bicycle has front and rear lights and reflectors. It should also have a bell.
  • Ensure the cyclist is able to ride safely and has been adequately trained.
  • Ensure the cyclist has Highway Code knowledge relevant to being a responsible cyclist.
  • Ensure the cyclist wears safety clothing such as high visibility / reflective garments and a cycle helmet.
  • Consider a restriction to cycling in daylight hours only?
  • Ensure the best route (including cycle paths and marked cycle routes) is being used.
  • Provide insurance cover.
  • Avoid carrying loads on a bicycle. If necessary, ensure correct equipment is used and cyclist is adequately trained to cycle with the additional burden.
  • Where a member of staff is cycling alone, consider Lone Worker and Personal Safety procedures

Provide cycle training.

Ensure employees are familiar with company policy relating to cycling

Be active in engaging with cyclists to hear their views on safety issues so that the organisation can learn from them

Ensure employees feel empowered to question policy as it applies to them, or to raise concerns, without fear of repercussion.

Conduct specific training / workshops / bike Doctor sessions within the organisation.

Liaise with Cycling Scotland and consider joining the Cycle Friendly Employer Scheme.

Ensure managers / supervisors are aware of the risks involved in cycling for work purposes.

Ensure managers / supervisors are aware of concerns raised by cyclists.

Ensure managers and supervisors raise awareness of cyclist responsibilities towards other road users such as pedestrians.

Within the company's own fleet consider use of vehicle technology to improve vehicle sightlines and reduce blind spots.

Within the company's own fleet drivers raise awareness of issues relating to vulnerable road users, especially cyclists.

If the company uses, or sub-contracts, large vehicles, raise awareness of their drivers of the risks of cyclists and large vehicles at junctions.