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80% of cyclists are more concerned about safety than six months ago

More than 80% of London cyclists responding to a survey say they are more concerned about road safety than they were six months ago.

In the online survey conducted for the London Assembly’s Transport Committee, a statistically significant response base of nearly 6,000 people, of whom more than 90 per cent cycle in London, two-thirds of them daily, a significant number said they were cycling less.

22 per cent said they had decreased their number of trips by bike in the last six months, with 91 per cent of those saying it was due to safety fears.

Four in five said they were very concerned or quite concerned about safety when cycling in London, and 82 per cent of those concerned about safety said this concern had grown in the last six months.
Cyclists reported that lack of segregated cycle lanes, incidents with cars and incidents with HGVs were the most offputting factors for them.

Risk factors

Interestingly, the response level for each was broadly equal at about 3,500 cyclists, meaning those riders identify cars as being just as dangerous as HGVs., despite nine of this year’s 14 deaths in the city being in HGV collisions.

Nine in 10 riders said they wanted HGV drivers to have better road safety training, while 92 per cent called for better traffic junctions.

And in an apparent contradiction to the oft-quoted ‘red light jumping’ image of cyclists, 77 per cent wanted more police enforcement of traffic regulations.

Cycle superhighway failings

Less than half of respondents used the Cycle Superhighways criss-crossing the capital, and of those, 63 per cent said segregation was bad or very bad. 79 per cent thought the Superhighways were not respected by other road users, and 68 per cent thought they were just as safe on alternative routes.

Despite perception of danger, TfL figures show that from 2008 to 2012, there were 68 cyclist deaths in the capital, while in the preceding five-year period from 2003 to 2007 the figure was 82.

The full set of figures is available to view here.

Val Shawcross AM, Chair of the Transport Committee, said: “Cycling in London has made great strides over the last decade but the recent rise in the number of cyclists killed or seriously injured on our roads risks reversing that progress.

“We are grateful to the large number of cyclists and other road users who have taken the time to share their views with us so far. The survey clearly shows that the rising number of serious injuries is having an impact on people’s willingness to take the bike.

“We welcome further responses to our survey and will use the final results to lobby for improvements to the safety of London’s roads for all users."

These figures are broadly consistent with another ComRes survey we wrote about last week, in which one in five cyclists in London said they have stopped riding their bike to work as a result of the six deaths of bike riders in the city during a two-week period last month, while a further three in ten have varied their route to work.

Around eight out of ten respondents said Mayor of London Boris Johnson “should be doing more to respond to the deaths and serious accidents amongst cyclists on London’s roads.”

However, Andrew Gilligan, appointed as cycling commissioner by Mr Johnson earlier this year, criticised the poll’s sample size as “manifestly tiny" (although for market research purposes, a sample of 1,000 produces a 95 per cent confidence level with a margin of error of  +/- 3 per cent).

He might struggle to argue that with the latest sample of 6,000 riders.

Speaking to BBC London, he also attacked the media for its "all-consuming focus" on the recent cyclist fatalities that he said "has contributed to the fear that cyclists and potential cyclists feel."

After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on road.cc.