Figures released by the Department for Transport have revealed a 27% increase in the number of cyclists killed and seriously injured on British roads between January and March 2014, compared with the same period the previous year.

The figures also showed that fatal or serious accidents on roads with speed limits of 40mph or more increased by 7%, while roads with speed limits lower than 40mph decreased by 0.4%.

Earlier this month it was announced that lorries on single lane carriageways will be permitted to drive at 50mph instead of 40mph, a move justified on the grounds that it would reduce dangerous overtaking of slow moving vehicles. However, the speed limit adjustment has been met with criticism from road safety campaigners who believe that the increased speed limits will pose an increased threat to cyclists.

Imogen Wetton, specialist serious injury solicitor based in Thompsons Solicitors’ Manchester office, said: “The significant year on year rise in serious and fatal accidents is very worrying.

“Last year more than 100 people lost their lives and 3,000 were seriously injured while cycling on Britain’s roads. That’s 100 bereaved families and 3,000 more whose lives have been turned upside down perhaps for ever. The statistics for the first three months of 2014 suggest that we may be facing another terrible year for road traffic accidents.

“All vehicles pose a very real threat to cyclists, especially lorries. Out of the 14 cyclist deaths in London last year, nine involved HGVs. Increasing the speed at which these vehicles are allowed to travel on single lane carriageways is a retrograde step, the stats show that roads with lower speed limits mean less serious or fatal accidents.

“The government should be lowering speed limits, not raising them, and investing time and money into securing the long-term safety of Britain’s cyclists not helping their friends in transport companies go faster at the cyclists’ expense.”