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Survey finds three in four non-cyclists in London would like to ride a bike there but are too scared to do so

London Cycling Campaign (LCC) says that this week’s Tube strike demonstrates that the capital’s roads need to be safer for people who want to cycle in the city but are too scared to do so.

In an opinion piece written for the London Evening Standard, the organisation’s chief executive, Ashok Sinha, says that surveys show that tens “tens of thousands of Londoners want to use their bikes as an alternative way to commute,” but most are deterred from doing so “because they find our streets too dangerous to cycle.”

He adds: “Many more want to cycle regularly for all sorts of everyday trips but daren’t ride alongside heavy lorries or around fast-moving cars and vans.”

Sinha urges that London’s streets be “redesigned to the highest international standards. They need to be made safe and inviting enough for Londoners of all ages and abilities to choose to cycle for everyday journeys, to work or to school, safe in the knowledge that they have the protection they deserve.”

He points out that “no-one thinks twice about using public transport or a taxi because of a fear of being seriously injured or killed. Why should they have to do so when thinking about cycling?”

After outlining the benefits of cycling in issues such as tackling obesity and air pollution, Sinha calls on candidates standing in the London council elections on May 22 to support LCC’s Space for Cycling campaign, launched earlier this month, saying, “councils are in charge of 95 per cent of London’s roads — not the Mayor or Transport for London — so those who run them have a responsibility to make them safer.”

His appeal follows a survey run by LCC on Twitter and Facebook over the weekend which found that almost three in four respondents who do not regularly cycle, 73 per cent, said that they would be more likely to ride a bike to work during the Tube strike if "there was less danger from motor traffic."

One third of the 205 respondents said that "large/unsafe/intimidating junctions" were the main reason they felt unsafe, with other factors mentioned including "Fast motor traffic" (19.5%), "The threat from lorries" (15.5%) and "Car/vans and taxis rat-running through residential streets" (13%).

There was near universal support for the statement that local councils should do more to make cycling safer, at 96 per cent, with 3 per cent unsure and just 1 per cent agreeing that councils are currently doing enough to make the streets safe and inviting for everyone to cycle.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

16 comments

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DrJDog [294 posts] 1 year ago
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It's strange, yesterday and today I have seen more motorbikes than usual in the work carp ark, while there have been fewer than usual bicycles.

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CStar [27 posts] 1 year ago
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Sorry, but this is just yet another example of what happens when you bring people up in a society that is so risk averse they will barely get out of bed. The people who worry about the so called 'risk' of cycling in London are the same ones who won't let their poor little kiddies walk 200m to school because they are petrified some gigantic paedo monster is going to jump out at them, because that's what the Daily Wail has told them for the last 20 years without any base in fact at all.

Yes you have to be careful cycling and London is busy, but you're still far more likely to be mugged or run over as a pedestrian. Obviously TfL and the Boroughs need to continue to do more, but they cannot be expected to make it risk free and the more people who do get out and cycle the more the risk is lowered proportionately. LCC need to stop this pointless scaremongering.

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Initialised [270 posts] 1 year ago
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Legal changes needed to make roads safer:

Mandatory collision avoidance tech in all new vehicles.
Strict liability.
Give cyclists priority over motorised traffic at all junctions.
A single offence of Causing Death or Disability while driving with a default maximum lifetime ban.
Once driving is put back to being a privilege not an assumed right the culture on the roads will change and we can start looking at infrastructure.

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whars1 [51 posts] 1 year ago
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It's not been much fun cycling in London the last two days - roads solid with frustrated, and generally static, motorists.

Definitely a few more cyclists around but days like this really emphasize how little space there is for cycling. If anyone did take this as an opportunity to try cycling I'd be worried they'd be put off rather than inspired.

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northstar [1108 posts] 1 year ago
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Change the record lcc, go and have another organised bike ride and watch nothing happen...again.

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jacknorell [942 posts] 1 year ago
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whars1 wrote:

It's not been much fun cycling in London the last two days - roads solid with frustrated, and generally static, motorists.

Definitely a few more cyclists around but days like this really emphasize how little space there is for cycling. If anyone did take this as an opportunity to try cycling I'd be worried they'd be put off rather than inspired.

Actually, I find that most drivers behave better, with fewer attempted dangerous overtakes and more attention.

It's so busy you can't stop paying attention, and even (almost) the most myopic driver can already tell overtaking won't help one bit. So, they hold back and let us cyclists get on with it.

The car park slalom does take a while though, average speed was much lower both mornings  4

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fluffy_mike [94 posts] 1 year ago
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Sorry, but this is just yet another example of what happens when you bring people up in a society that is so risk averse they will barely get out of bed.

Nope, this is about the vast majority of people - ordinary people - who don't like cycling where there are fast cars, buses, motorbikes and lorries.

This includes most children and elderly people, but also lots of normal men and women in their 20s and 30s.

Saying these people are weak-minded in any way is, frankly, pathetic and shows a complete lack of understanding of what typical people consider 'safe' or 'pleasant'.

Go to the Netherlands to see what happens when you design streets that are not intimidating - people jump on their bikes in their millions.

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allez neg [497 posts] 1 year ago
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CStar wrote:

Sorry, but this is just yet another example of what happens when you bring people up in a society that is so risk averse they will barely get out of bed. The people who worry about the so called 'risk' of cycling in London are the same ones who won't let their poor little kiddies walk 200m to school because they are petrified some gigantic paedo monster is going to jump out at them, because that's what the Daily Wail has told them for the last 20 years without any base in fact at all.

Yes you have to be careful cycling and London is busy, but you're still far more likely to be mugged or run over as a pedestrian. Obviously TfL and the Boroughs need to continue to do more, but they cannot be expected to make it risk free and the more people who do get out and cycle the more the risk is lowered proportionately. LCC need to stop this pointless scaremongering.

Yeah, I'd go with that, 'specially as Cyril Smith and Uncle Jimmy are no more.

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allez neg [497 posts] 1 year ago
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A cynic would also posit that in a questionnaire it perhaps sounds better to use "danger" as a reason for not riding than "can't really be bothered" or the weather, or getting sweaty, or other reasons.

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goggy [153 posts] 1 year ago
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whars1 wrote:

It's not been much fun cycling in London the last two days - roads solid with frustrated, and generally static, motorists.

Definitely a few more cyclists around but days like this really emphasize how little space there is for cycling. If anyone did take this as an opportunity to try cycling I'd be worried they'd be put off rather than inspired.

I stayed at home when I normally cycle a 40-mile round trip through London. I assumed there would be too many cars driven by people who don't normally drive in London, cyclists who don't cycle and are weaving everywhere, and pedestrians walking everywhere with their heads buried in their smartphones looking for tube updates.

Back on the bike tomorrow though...

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Pauldmorgan [217 posts] 1 year ago
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The roads have been no busier or perhaps quieter than usual.

In times gone by (I've cycled in London for 25 years) you'd see tonnes of newcomers wobbling about on "shed bikes" on a tube strike day.

For two or three years that has ceased to be the case - the occasional cyclist, for whatever reason, are not getting their bikes out.

My own personal view is that the culture of home-working and ease of VPN access etc means that a lot more people don't bother coming into the office. Many companies advise their staff to stay at home now and I suspect most people don't need a second bidding to "shirk from home".

Me - I could stay at home but then I wouldn't get the miles in.

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KiwiMike [1074 posts] 1 year ago
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Yesterday, Bank to Waterloo on a Borisbike in 10 minutes flat. Roads totally jammed meaning traffic was, to me, a stationary wall of steel to be streaked down, wary of people crossing without looking.

Was a bit worried that Waterloo wouldn't have any spaces, but TfL had two trucks there, and were loading the bikes in as soon as they were docked. Excellent. Almost a recommended experience. Almost.

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bikebot [1638 posts] 1 year ago
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whars1 wrote:

It's not been much fun cycling in London the last two days - roads solid with frustrated, and generally static, motorists.

Definitely a few more cyclists around but days like this really emphasize how little space there is for cycling. If anyone did take this as an opportunity to try cycling I'd be worried they'd be put off rather than inspired.

I see what you mean about the frustrated and *generally* static motorists.

This is so bad it's hilarious.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HCf-XFusu2I

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arfa [696 posts] 1 year ago
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Central London has essentially been heavily congested so traffic has been slow moving and a lot of cyclists feeding their way through the traffic. Personally I have been slower due to the volume of traffic. The traffic on back roads has generally been quieter as only the determined commuter appears to have taken to the road.
Yes there have been a few shed bikes out and good for them, I hope they realise it is not as dangerous as the media portray it.
I have volunteered to guide people in but no one has taken me up on it - I'm not taking it personally ! What I think would be a good idea would be to have some formally endorsed route leaders guiding and coaching newbies just to get them started - just the sort of thing the government could organise/endorse if they are serious about the UK as a "cycling nation". But they won't.

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Ush [591 posts] 1 year ago
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Too scared my arse... just looking for an excuse and projecting their hostility.

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OldRidgeback [2554 posts] 1 year ago
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I commute in the other direction so I can't say. My wife cycled into town though and she said it took her the same amount of time as usual.