Survey shows scale of fear on London’s roads in wake of spate of cyclist deaths

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

by Sarah Barth   December 9, 2013  

Barclays Cycle Superhighway (source - Transport for London)

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."

6 user comments

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As a London cyclist who hasnow been riding in the city for decades, I feel justified in saying things aren't nearly as bad as they used to be.
Have I stopped cycling? No.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2211 posts]
9th December 2013 - 11:38

4 Likes

+1 on things getting better over a long time horizon. However there are a few narrow issues to address, notably tipper/skip drivers paid on a per load basis, junction design (feeding cyclists up left hand side of traffic) and training for novices.
All of these are readily addressable with the will.
Perhaps they could be part funded by the strict fining regime (which I welcome) ?

posted by arfa [504 posts]
9th December 2013 - 11:48

9 Likes

Maybe some sort of standard for cycle-ways would help ensure they are fit for purpose . Also have them recognised in the road traffic act and added to the highway code and driving test. Thinking

That way drivers who ignor them are committing an offence and could be held to account . The local authorities would know the minimum standard they had to achieve when planning cycle-ways, and drivers who be encouraged to understand their obligations regarding cycle-ways Rolling On The Floor

Meantime back in the real world ... please be careful out there.... they're out to get you! Sad

Endorphines going up and adrenaline going down, who needs drugs?

posted by banzicyclist2 [223 posts]
9th December 2013 - 11:48

12 Likes

Both Andrew Gilligan and Boris Johnson's constant insistence that the press focusing on the deaths and creating a "fear" amongst cyclists is simple blame defection tactics, after all if the roads were safe these deaths shouldn't have occurred so the blame should surely fall on those in charge of the road design which is guess who? But then when all TFL seem bothered to do is put out the same old crap of "Please share the road" and Boris's fixation on hi-viz, helmets, headphones and "keeping your wits around you" I guess we can't expect much to change really.

posted by bassjunkieuk [31 posts]
9th December 2013 - 11:56

12 Likes

I have cycled into London for five years. I got knocked off for the first time in November & it has knocked me for six. November was an awful month for cycling in more ways than one for me, & I can say that I am definately more concerned now than I was in September/October. It is very sad, but the attitudes have to change in order for me to feel safe again.

fancynancy's picture

posted by fancynancy [63 posts]
9th December 2013 - 12:59

11 Likes

Boris Johnson's and Andrew Gilligan's argument that going on about the danger's of cycling on London's roads is counterproductive because it might put people off cycling is just an attempt to let them and TfL avoid responsibility for their failure to take cycling as a form of transport seriously.

Suppose the cycling community did as they ask and said nothing, what would happen? I can tell you - nothing. Why? Because then Messrs. Johnson, Gilligan and TfL would argue that there was no pressure for change and would devote resources which might otherwise be spent on cycling infrastructure elsewhere.

The only thing to do is to keep complaining until the problem is properly addressed and resolved.

Watdabni

posted by Watdabni [7 posts]
9th December 2013 - 20:44

5 Likes