Half of Britons say local roads too dangerous for cycling in BBC poll

Campaigners call for more space — and money — for cycling

by Simon_MacMichael   July 1, 2014  

London cyclist approaching junction.jpg

Cycling campaigners have issued a fresh call for more space to be given to cyclists on Britain’s roads after more than half of the respondents to a survey commissioned by the BBC said that it is too dangerous to ride on the roads where they live.

The poll of 3,012 adults, carried out by ComRes, is published ahead of Saturday’s start of the Tour de France in Leeds, but only one in five of those surveyed, 20 per cent, agreed that the prospect of the event coming to Britain had encouraged them to cycle more.

While 52 per cent said that their local roads were too dangerous for cyclists, only a third, 34 per cent, were of the opinion that the streets where they live are well designed for bike riders. Meanwhile, 55 per cent believe that employers are not doing enough to encourage and facilitate cycling to work.

Chris Boardman, policy advisor to British Cycling which has today unveiled its vision of how the Headrow in Leeds could look if annual spend on cycling were raised to £10 a head, told the BBC: "It's clear … people don't feel safe when riding their bikes on our roads.

"In order to rectify this we need a clear commitment from government and local authorities to prioritise the safety and needs of cyclists in all future transport schemes."

A spokesman for the Department for Transport insisted however that the government had "doubled funding for cycling to £374m to help deliver safer junctions."

That funding relates to England and is spread over several years and as a result is well below the minimum £10 per head recommended in last year’s Get Britain Cycling report from the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group.

According to British Cycling, current annual per capita spend on cycling in the UK is £2, compared to £24 in the Netherlands.

Martin Lucas-Smith of the Cambridge Cycling Campaign, the largest such group outside London, said that residents of many parts of the UK “felt unsafe to cycle."

He also said that "things like narrow cycle lanes" and "badly maintained roads" contributed to safety fears among riders.

"We'd like to see proper allocation of space on these roads which can almost always be achieved simply by a bit of redesign, so people can cycle safely and easily," he added.

In April this year, research from the University of the West of England found that perception of the danger posed by traffic was the main barrier to getting more people on bikes.

Meanwhile, last week a survey published by retailer Halfords found that 40 per cent of respondents agreed that a dedicated cycle lane on every road would encourage them to cycle more often.

The Halfords survey also found that 19 per cent of people said they would ride a bike more often if there were better facilities at their workplace, such as showers.

Responding to the BBC’s findings on that issue, Claire Francis, head of policy at the sustainable transport charity Sustrans, said: "Employers who encourage cycling can increase their profitability and have employees who take fewer sick days but without decent facilities and support, many businesses miss out on these benefits.

"Cycle parking and showers in an office should be as common as a printer and a coffee machine.

"But we also need the government to deliver better infrastructure and slower speeds on our roads, so that people feel safe to leave home on their bike," she added.

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Quote:
Does anyone else thing part of the problem is cars are now much wider than they used to be. Fiat punto overtaking - no issue, BMW X5 however......that's whats causes the tailback, lots of people driving excessively large cars

I agree. Wide cars, and drivers who don't always judge the width of their vehicle/ the closeness of their pass well. Also, it is more intimidating being overtaken by a big 4x4 or a huge tractor, and ideally you'd like them to leave more space than a smaller vehicle, but they leave less.

The related, main problem is drivers who are not prepared to wait until it is safe to pass if the road is narrow and there is oncoming traffic or a blind bend. And people are more impatient at certain times, particularly going to and from work. I experienced lots of stupid passes on country roads yesterday around 6-7pm.

posted by HarrogateSpa [81 posts]
1st July 2014 - 21:04

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Bikebikebike wrote:

Unfortunately it is dangerous. Cycling where a lorry can legally drive within a few feet (e.g. you're in a cycle lane and they are in the lane next to you) is simply not safe. Would you be happy with children in your family cycling along next to a lorry?

Of course roads are dangerous. You can have two vehicles, of massively different sizes, approaching each other at at combined speed of 120mph (quite possibly even faster) on a narrow country road and they will pass with a gap of less than 3' between them. There's no barrier separating them and only seat belts, airbags and crumple zones to protect the occupants in the event of a collision. Yet somehow we accept that and appear to cope with it. Presumably you would even subject your family to that danger without giving it a second thought?

Cycling on the road is similar. There *are* risks but, statistically speaking, serious incidents are thankfully fairly rare and therefore the risk is acceptable ... although we would prefer the infrastructure to minimise it further.

posted by Joeinpoole [196 posts]
1st July 2014 - 21:08

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I know the showers thing has been done to death now but for what it's worth it made a big difference to me when I used to commute on the bike (5 miles followed by 40 mins on a train followed by 1 mile).

In honesty I don't think I would have even entertained using the bike if showers weren't available. Maybe the 40 mins festering on the train makes a difference and I'm generally inclined to riding fast (or at least trying hard) so I'm always sweaty. Maybe wet wipes and deo would have been enough but I don't think I would have considered trying and I imagine many people would feel the same.

When comparing the UK to countries where utility cycling is more popular we should consider the length of the commute. We always talk about the Dutch but from visiting Holland I certainly don't get the impression that the guys and gals turning up at the office in smart dress on traditional town bikes have just completed a 15-20 commute. In the UK many regular cycle commuters cover these sort of distances. In the UK you would be very lucky to live within 5 miles of your place of work, which I would consider a resonable distance to cycle in office clothes.

posted by Matt eaton [308 posts]
1st July 2014 - 23:10

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Leodis wrote:
I agree with the 19% that showers, lockers and dry rooms are essential for commuters. Its ok if you cycle at 5mph and live in some Danish/Dutch dream that the UK could be like it one day but if you are cycling to lose weight or like to push yourself then getting sweaty in summer is one of those things and a shower at work is a massive bonus.

People use to say to me use wet wipes, yeah great you feel really fresh after standing nude in the work toilets with a pack of baby wipes, someone walks in and its P45 time thanks Mr Oddball and usually the employer who doesnt provide showers doesnt provide lockers so you end up in winter with a bag of soaking clothes and slipping into wet lycra after a hard day is not nice.

Errrr ………. you take a clean and dry set of kit with you in the morning for your ride home. What's hard about this? Why do some cyclists feel that they are entitled to have a shower after their ride into work and resent their employer for not indulging them? Get real. It's your chosen method of transport to work so deal with it. Use baby wipes which I hasten to add are far quicker than showering and a fraction of the cost. I certainly don't expect my employer or resent it that there are no showers on site.

Airzound

posted by Airzound [219 posts]
2nd July 2014 - 0:07

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parksey wrote:
broomie wrote:
Cycling to work takes some planning simple tips are:

1, Keep a lock At work dont ride around with it -saes alot of weight

2. Keep your clothes at work just swap in and oput shirts/blouses etc when you need them- I see so many folks with huge backpacks where they take their enture wardrobe to work everday,

3. Squaddie wash In the gents/ladies a scrub under the offending armpits is the most you need unless seriously you have done 100 miles/

4. Deoderant!

Broomie

Can only echo this comment myself. I only travel a few miles each way, but still use a hill on the way in for a bit of interval training, and there's absolutely no need for me to shower when I get to work.

I simply shower before I leave, then when I get to work I nip in a cubicle and have a rub down with a few baby wipes and a squirt of deodorant and, most importantly, a complete change of clothes, and job done. All-in it's about 5 minutes, and I can honestly say I don't feel any less "fresh" than had I just got straight out the shower. No complaints yet as to my personal hygiene either, even on the warmest of summer days...

Work shoes, trousers, ties etc are all kept at work, and I just roll up a freshly-ironed shirt every morning and it goes in my bag, to emerge unscathed at the other end (ok, "non-iron" shirts help with this). A world away from that creased-shirt look you get when you've been sat in the same position in a car seat for an hour.

Ok, I acknowledge that things might not be so simple if the journey was 30/40/50 miles, but how many people would ever commute that sort of distance on a bike?!

And I think that's part of the problem. Not so much that employers don't have the facilities for cyclists, rather that people choose to live too bloody far from where they work as to make cycling viable. A quick straw poll in my office shows the average distance amongst a dozen or so of us to be over 25 miles, and that includes the 3 or 4 of us who live within 5 miles and do cycle.

I don't want to say that nobody should be allowed to work outside of a 10 mile radius of their home postcode or some such nonsense, but equally, all the while it is considered socially acceptable to do a 100 mile round commute every day, you won't be getting those people on bikes for utility purposes.

I ride 40 miles each day. Just because you only ride a couple of miles, doesn't mean others share your lethargy.

Airzound

posted by Airzound [219 posts]
2nd July 2014 - 0:13

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Cycling on UK roads is dangerous - 3 knock downs in 15 years, 2 of which were hospital trips and one a hit and run plus scores and scores of near certain death experiences plus several instances where drivers have threatened and been prepared to use extreme violence which could have resulted in very serious injury or death had I not got away. Thousands of close passes, hundreds of which were imho deliberate. Cycling on UK roads is not safe and definitely NOT for the faint hearted. Period.

Airzound

posted by Airzound [219 posts]
2nd July 2014 - 0:22

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Airzound wrote:
Cycling on UK roads is dangerous - 3 knock downs in 15 years, 2 of which were hospital trips and one a hit and run plus scores and scores of near certain death experiences plus several instances where drivers have threatened and been prepared to use extreme violence which could have resulted in very serious injury or death had I not got away. Thousands of close passes, hundreds of which were imho deliberate. Cycling on UK roads is not safe and definitely NOT for the faint hearted. Period.

Sorry but maybe you need to examine *how* you ride and maybe where you ride too.

I've had plenty of *potential* serious incidents but there's always been enough 'tells' to make me back off and avoid them.

It's a bit like it seems that everyone who advocates the wearing of helmets has invariably had millions of near-death experiences from which "the helmet saved their lives". In contrast those of us who have *never* worn helmets (because I'd been cycling for 20 years before they were invented) have remained disappointingly impervious to such drama.

The fact remains that British roads are actually incredibly safe for cyclists. There's about 100 deaths per year on British roads out of what, about 10-15M cyclists? From what I read in the news at least half of those killed are unfortunately down to the cyclist's own fault through being drunk, texting, racing, inexperienced, etc.

posted by Joeinpoole [196 posts]
2nd July 2014 - 0:49

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Joeinpoole wrote:
From what I read in the news at least half of those killed are unfortunately down to the cyclist's own fault through being drunk, texting, racing, inexperienced, etc.

Really?

posted by farrell [1311 posts]
2nd July 2014 - 8:34

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Airzound wrote:
I ride 40 miles each day. Just because you only ride a couple of miles, doesn't mean others share your lethargy.

Hang on a minute. I know you can be a bit provocative at times on here, particularly when it comes to the whole infrastructure/safety debate, but that comment is harsh.

It's got precisely nothing to do with my lethargy, I have simply chosen to live close to where I work and therefore don't need to commute miles on the bike every day.

Besides, my comment did nothing to ridicule those that do, it simply raised the point that, in a survey about encouraging utility cycling, many simply live too far from their place of work to make their commute viable on a bike.

No infrastructure improvements or showers at work are going to do anything to change that.

posted by parksey [184 posts]
2nd July 2014 - 9:09

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Joeinpoole wrote:
Airzound wrote:
Cycling on UK roads is dangerous - 3 knock downs in 15 years, 2 of which were hospital trips and one a hit and run plus scores and scores of near certain death experiences plus several instances where drivers have threatened and been prepared to use extreme violence which could have resulted in very serious injury or death had I not got away. Thousands of close passes, hundreds of which were imho deliberate. Cycling on UK roads is not safe and definitely NOT for the faint hearted. Period.

Sorry but maybe you need to examine *how* you ride and maybe where you ride too.

I've had plenty of *potential* serious incidents but there's always been enough 'tells' to make me back off and avoid them.

It's a bit like it seems that everyone who advocates the wearing of helmets has invariably had millions of near-death experiences from which "the helmet saved their lives". In contrast those of us who have *never* worn helmets (because I'd been cycling for 20 years before they were invented) have remained disappointingly impervious to such drama.

The fact remains that British roads are actually incredibly safe for cyclists. There's about 100 deaths per year on British roads out of what, about 10-15M cyclists? From what I read in the news at least half of those killed are unfortunately down to the cyclist's own fault through being drunk, texting, racing, inexperienced, etc.

So you'd be happy for an 8 year old child from your family to cycle along the roads with you? If not then they aren't safe. As I said, five out of five of my flatmates have been knocked off by cars. It's almost inevitable if you ride regularly round London, and that can't be acceptable for a child.

posted by Bikebikebike [70 posts]
2nd July 2014 - 9:22

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Matt eaton wrote:
When comparing the UK to countries where utility cycling is more popular we should consider the length of the commute. We always talk about the Dutch but from visiting Holland I certainly don't get the impression that the guys and gals turning up at the office in smart dress on traditional town bikes have just completed a 15-20 commute. In the UK many regular cycle commuters cover these sort of distances. In the UK you would be very lucky to live within 5 miles of your place of work, which I would consider a resonable distance to cycle in office clothes.

Average UK commute: 9.3 miles. While is doable by bike, but you won't get mass cycling under those conditions.

BUT 43% have a commute under 5km. 58% of men and 70% of women travel less than 6.2 miles.

And that's before you consider bike + train and other multi-mode options.

So there's nothing lucky about it. We could have mass cycle commuting.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/road-and-rail-transport/10724224/...

posted by HKCambridge [110 posts]
2nd July 2014 - 10:14

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Joeinpoole wrote:
The fact remains that British roads are actually incredibly safe for cyclists. There's about 100 deaths per year on British roads out of what, about 10-15M cyclists?

Not sure where you get the 10-15M cyclists estimate from, but the risk is better measured as a Casualty Rate (e.g. the risk of serious injury per mile on the road).

2012 figures were 118 cyclists killed, 3222 seriously injured.
The total road miles cycled was estimated as 3.11 billion.
So (118 + 3222) / 3.11 gives a Casualty Rate of:

1074 cyclists killed or seriously injured per billion vehicle miles.

To put that in context, 801 car users were killed and 8232 seriously injured.
Total miles driven was estimated at 240 billion.
So (801 + 8232) / 240 gives a Casualty Rate of:

38 car occupants killed or seriously injured per billion vehicle miles.

People feel that cycling is risky compared to taking the car. The accident stats show that this is unfortunately very true. Sad

On the plus side, regular cycling has enormous health benefits so despite the occasional accidents it remains massively beneficial to overall public health and some would say, quality of life. Smile

(Figures from RRCGB Annual Report 2012, Tables RAS30065 & RAS30067)

Joeinpoole wrote:
From what I read in the news at least half of those killed are unfortunately down to the cyclist's own fault through being drunk, texting, racing, inexperienced, etc.

The news does like to report that, yes.

But research suggests that cyclists are to blame for 20% motor vehicle vs cyclist collisions. Drivers were at fault in 68%.

And yes, some of those cyclists may have been "inexperienced" - but having roads that are only suitable for "experienced" cyclists is indicative of the problem!

posted by GrahamSt [77 posts]
2nd July 2014 - 10:53

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Joeinpoole wrote:
Airzound wrote:
Cycling on UK roads is dangerous - 3 knock downs in 15 years, 2 of which were hospital trips and one a hit and run plus scores and scores of near certain death experiences plus several instances where drivers have threatened and been prepared to use extreme violence which could have resulted in very serious injury or death had I not got away. Thousands of close passes, hundreds of which were imho deliberate. Cycling on UK roads is not safe and definitely NOT for the faint hearted. Period.

Sorry but maybe you need to examine *how* you ride and maybe where you ride too.

I've had plenty of *potential* serious incidents but there's always been enough 'tells' to make me back off and avoid them.

It's a bit like it seems that everyone who advocates the wearing of helmets has invariably had millions of near-death experiences from which "the helmet saved their lives". In contrast those of us who have *never* worn helmets (because I'd been cycling for 20 years before they were invented) have remained disappointingly impervious to such drama.

The fact remains that British roads are actually incredibly safe for cyclists. There's about 100 deaths per year on British roads out of what, about 10-15M cyclists? From what I read in the news at least half of those killed are unfortunately down to the cyclist's own fault through being drunk, texting, racing, inexperienced, etc.

I have reported over 20 drivers just in the last 2-3 years, I was cycling in a safe manner, taking the lane when necessary etc. In nearly all cases I wasn't wearing a helmet.

It's only a couple of week since I was knocked off my bike, thankfully I wasn't hurt. It most certainly wasn't my fault and the statistic I have read is that 80% of cases where a cyclist is injured - the driver is at fault. Cyclists should be able to make mistakes without getting maimed, if drivers follow the rules, this can happen.

There may only be 100 deaths per year, it's the many thousands of serious injuries that worries me, and the fact that every other person that cycles a lot seems to have been knocked off their bike often resulting in serious injuries - I think that a lot of these injuries aren't being categorised properly.

posted by kie7077 [434 posts]
2nd July 2014 - 11:06

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Keep plugging away Mr Boardman.

posted by kitsunegari [19 posts]
2nd July 2014 - 11:19

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Bikebikebike wrote:
Joeinpoole wrote:
Airzound wrote:
Cycling on UK roads is dangerous - 3 knock downs in 15 years, 2 of which were hospital trips and one a hit and run plus scores and scores of near certain death experiences plus several instances where drivers have threatened and been prepared to use extreme violence which could have resulted in very serious injury or death had I not got away. Thousands of close passes, hundreds of which were imho deliberate. Cycling on UK roads is not safe and definitely NOT for the faint hearted. Period.

Sorry but maybe you need to examine *how* you ride and maybe where you ride too.

I've had plenty of *potential* serious incidents but there's always been enough 'tells' to make me back off and avoid them.

It's a bit like it seems that everyone who advocates the wearing of helmets has invariably had millions of near-death experiences from which "the helmet saved their lives". In contrast those of us who have *never* worn helmets (because I'd been cycling for 20 years before they were invented) have remained disappointingly impervious to such drama.

The fact remains that British roads are actually incredibly safe for cyclists. There's about 100 deaths per year on British roads out of what, about 10-15M cyclists? From what I read in the news at least half of those killed are unfortunately down to the cyclist's own fault through being drunk, texting, racing, inexperienced, etc.

So you'd be happy for an 8 year old child from your family to cycle along the roads with you? If not then they aren't safe. As I said, five out of five of my flatmates have been knocked off by cars. It's almost inevitable if you ride regularly round London, and that can't be acceptable for a child.

I go riding with my kids on London roads. It depends where you ride and at what time. I've been cycling in London for over 20 years.

I don't like the idea of tempting fate, but I've never been knocked off my bike by a car and believe me, I've racked up a lot of miles commuting up to 20 miles/day at rush hour along some of the busiest stretches of road in London. I've had close calls but that's it. I was doored once and that hurt my hand, but I didn't hit the deck.

The only time I've ever been knocked off my bike during my commute has been by a Danish couple who looked the wrong way before stepping off the kerb. I hauled on the brakes and while we all ended up hitting the deck, no-one was hurt.

When I've crashed my bike this has been when I've been racing/training on a track or messing about on my 20" BMX at the local skatepark.

Things are not as bad in London for cyclists as they were in the late 1980s when I first started pedalling my way round the city. For most of the 1990s I was clocking about 100miles/week commuting at peak periods right through the city 10miles from south to north in the morning and then 10 miles from north to south back again in the evening.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2132 posts]
2nd July 2014 - 18:32

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I think a lot of the comments here kind of prove my earlier point (and one that others have also made), that perception of danger is often different to reality, but it's this that's stopping people cycling (or perhaps stopping them allowing their children from cycling..)

That's not to say more needs to be done to improve road safety -or that these people are wrong not to cycle (I would never advocate it if you genuinely didn't feel safe - if you feel that way then probably you aren't safe..)

But so many people who haven't tried it just assume it's dangerous, when it may not be.

There's safety in numbers, to an extent, as many commentators have said. And if more people tried it, then it would go some way to normalising cycling.

Then perhaps showers at work would be more widespread! (I still wouldn't just use a wetwipe though!).

Oh and on that point, if you've got, for example, a rural 10 mile commute surely you'd want to go fairly quickly for it to be a viable alternative to driving? Hence ideally why you'd have a shower after, IMO!

posted by 700c [556 posts]
2nd July 2014 - 19:04

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OldRidgeback wrote:
Bikebikebike wrote:
Joeinpoole wrote:
Airzound wrote:
Cycling on UK roads is dangerous - 3 knock downs in 15 years, 2 of which were hospital trips and one a hit and run plus scores and scores of near certain death experiences plus several instances where drivers have threatened and been prepared to use extreme violence which could have resulted in very serious injury or death had I not got away. Thousands of close passes, hundreds of which were imho deliberate. Cycling on UK roads is not safe and definitely NOT for the faint hearted. Period.

Sorry but maybe you need to examine *how* you ride and maybe where you ride too.

I've had plenty of *potential* serious incidents but there's always been enough 'tells' to make me back off and avoid them.

It's a bit like it seems that everyone who advocates the wearing of helmets has invariably had millions of near-death experiences from which "the helmet saved their lives". In contrast those of us who have *never* worn helmets (because I'd been cycling for 20 years before they were invented) have remained disappointingly impervious to such drama.

The fact remains that British roads are actually incredibly safe for cyclists. There's about 100 deaths per year on British roads out of what, about 10-15M cyclists? From what I read in the news at least half of those killed are unfortunately down to the cyclist's own fault through being drunk, texting, racing, inexperienced, etc.

So you'd be happy for an 8 year old child from your family to cycle along the roads with you? If not then they aren't safe. As I said, five out of five of my flatmates have been knocked off by cars. It's almost inevitable if you ride regularly round London, and that can't be acceptable for a child.

I go riding with my kids on London roads. It depends where you ride and at what time.

Well I'd like to cycle where I want to go, at the time I want to go there. It's not really acceptable to have no-go areas and prohibited times if the bike is going to be a practical method of transport.

posted by Bikebikebike [70 posts]
2nd July 2014 - 22:26

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Bikebikebike wrote:
OldRidgeback wrote:
Bikebikebike wrote:
Joeinpoole wrote:
Airzound wrote:
Cycling on UK roads is dangerous - 3 knock downs in 15 years, 2 of which were hospital trips and one a hit and run plus scores and scores of near certain death experiences plus several instances where drivers have threatened and been prepared to use extreme violence which could have resulted in very serious injury or death had I not got away. Thousands of close passes, hundreds of which were imho deliberate. Cycling on UK roads is not safe and definitely NOT for the faint hearted. Period.

Sorry but maybe you need to examine *how* you ride and maybe where you ride too.

I've had plenty of *potential* serious incidents but there's always been enough 'tells' to make me back off and avoid them.

It's a bit like it seems that everyone who advocates the wearing of helmets has invariably had millions of near-death experiences from which "the helmet saved their lives". In contrast those of us who have *never* worn helmets (because I'd been cycling for 20 years before they were invented) have remained disappointingly impervious to such drama.

The fact remains that British roads are actually incredibly safe for cyclists. There's about 100 deaths per year on British roads out of what, about 10-15M cyclists? From what I read in the news at least half of those killed are unfortunately down to the cyclist's own fault through being drunk, texting, racing, inexperienced, etc.

So you'd be happy for an 8 year old child from your family to cycle along the roads with you? If not then they aren't safe. As I said, five out of five of my flatmates have been knocked off by cars. It's almost inevitable if you ride regularly round London, and that can't be acceptable for a child.

I go riding with my kids on London roads. It depends where you ride and at what time.

Well I'd like to cycle where I want to go, at the time I want to go there. It's not really acceptable to have no-go areas and prohibited times if the bike is going to be a practical method of transport.

Read my comment about how much commuting I've done in London at peak periods. That's 25 years of city riding with one dooring that resulted in a bruised hand but no actual spill and only one incident where I hit the deck, caused by a Danish couple who didn't look properly before stepping out.

I'm not saying I haven't had close calls at times and I've certainly seen some very poor driving. But I ride with my kids in London, which was your original comment.

The fatality rate now is a fraction of what it was in the bad old days of the late 70s.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2132 posts]
3rd July 2014 - 9:11

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OldRidgeback wrote:
The fatality rate now is a fraction of what it was in the bad old days of the late 70s.

It's has dropped significantly but can't really be considered a huge drop given that over the same period the number of fatalities for all road users was doing this:

road_fatalities_1969_2012.png

posted by GrahamSt [77 posts]
3rd July 2014 - 10:06

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I wonder how much of the reduction in deaths is related to the change in attitudes to drink-driving over that period.

posted by Beatnik69 [45 posts]
3rd July 2014 - 10:07

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I suspect it is a multitude of factors, mostly massive improvements in car safety and much tighter traffic laws.

Here's a different graph that I annotated with a few of the major changes:

Killed_on_British_Roads.png

posted by GrahamSt [77 posts]
3rd July 2014 - 10:17

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True, but I was really thinking that if drivers' attitudes towards drink driving can be changed so dramatically can their attitudes towards cyclists be changed as well? Trouble is, that may also take a long time.

posted by Beatnik69 [45 posts]
3rd July 2014 - 10:29

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Bikebikebike wrote:
Joeinpoole wrote:
Airzound wrote:
Cycling on UK roads is dangerous - 3 knock downs in 15 years, 2 of which were hospital trips and one a hit and run plus scores and scores of near certain death experiences plus several instances where drivers have threatened and been prepared to use extreme violence which could have resulted in very serious injury or death had I not got away. Thousands of close passes, hundreds of which were imho deliberate. Cycling on UK roads is not safe and definitely NOT for the faint hearted. Period.

Sorry but maybe you need to examine *how* you ride and maybe where you ride too.

I've had plenty of *potential* serious incidents but there's always been enough 'tells' to make me back off and avoid them.

It's a bit like it seems that everyone who advocates the wearing of helmets has invariably had millions of near-death experiences from which "the helmet saved their lives". In contrast those of us who have *never* worn helmets (because I'd been cycling for 20 years before they were invented) have remained disappointingly impervious to such drama.

The fact remains that British roads are actually incredibly safe for cyclists. There's about 100 deaths per year on British roads out of what, about 10-15M cyclists? From what I read in the news at least half of those killed are unfortunately down to the cyclist's own fault through being drunk, texting, racing, inexperienced, etc.

So you'd be happy for an 8 year old child from your family to cycle along the roads with you? If not then they aren't safe. As I said, five out of five of my flatmates have been knocked off by cars. It's almost inevitable if you ride regularly round London, and that can't be acceptable for a child.

When I was a child (in the 1960s/70s) the normal practice was that kids below 11 were 'allowed' to ride on the pavement __ you generally wouldn't have had 8-year olds riding on the road without the close supervision of an adult but that would have depended on where and when. Once the kid was big enough to handle a bike with 26" wheels or more, if I remember correctly, then they graduated to the road. Is that still the case today?

posted by Joeinpoole [196 posts]
3rd July 2014 - 10:40

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As I understand it, it is an offence for any cyclist to ride on the pavement, regardless of their age, but ACPO encourages police discretion:

ACPO wrote:
"The introduction of the fixed penalty is not aimed at responsible cyclists who sometimes feel obliged to use the pavement out of fear of the traffic, and who show consideration to other pavement users.

Chief police officers, who are responsible for enforcement, acknowledge that many cyclists, particularly children and young people, are afraid to cycle on the road, sensitivity and careful use of police discretion is required."

So in reality a child cyclist wouldn't be collared unless they were making a nuisance of themselves or putting other people in danger.

(a child under ten is below the age of criminal responsibility, so can't be charged anyway)

posted by GrahamSt [77 posts]
3rd July 2014 - 10:57

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GrahamSt wrote:
I suspect it is a multitude of factors, mostly massive improvements in car safety and much tighter traffic laws.

Here's a different graph that I annotated with a few of the major changes:

I believe the most significant factor is actually improved road engineering. Accident black spots have been identified and the issue has been engineered out with changes to the roads or junctions.

That's why motorways are much safer to travel on, per mile driven, than any other road for example __ because they've been *designed* to allow traffic to flow at high speeds. The standards for motorway construction have also been massively improved in recent decades too with much more stringent limits on the radius of bends (for visibility) and gradients of climbs.

That's also why your graph doesn't show any significant step-changes from the various changes in laws regarding safety features. The truth is that individually they didn't make much difference. What has made the difference has been the gradual improvement in road engineering and hundreds of improvements in the design of cars. Cars nowadays are much easier to drive than they were even 30 years ago. Brakes are better, handling is better, wider tyres, etc, etc.

Improvements in road safety are essentially down to what Brailsford would describe as 'marginal gains'. Thousands of tiny changes that collectively add up to measurably increased performance.

posted by Joeinpoole [196 posts]
3rd July 2014 - 11:00

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It is definitely more dangerous these days riding the bike on the road.
And that is due to peoples lack of care when they get in their metal boxes with wheels.

Even some professional drivers like bus or taxi drivers seem to not care for the safety of cyclists out on the road.

That said those cyclists riding through red lights aren't exactly doing us any favours. They should be fined, just like people years ago would be fined if they were caught riding a push bike on the pavement.

We seem to have a lot of cycle paths going on to the pavement these days (I live in Brighton) , I for one think this hasn't helped the rights of cyclist putting cycle paths on pavements. Cyclist should use the road, pavements are for pedestrians. The powers that be should be taking the cycling routes off pavements and putting them back on roads. All motor vehicle traffic in built up areas should be reduced to 20mph and in some cases 10mph .

The bicycle in built up places should be regarded as the most important to cater for, over motor vehicles.

Radical ideas of mine but they make more sense than what's happening at the moment.

Rupert's picture

posted by Rupert [80 posts]
3rd July 2014 - 11:14

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GrahamSt wrote:
I suspect it is a multitude of factors, mostly massive improvements in car safety and much tighter traffic laws.

Here's a different graph that I annotated with a few of the major changes:

I could be missing something blindingly obvious here but how has the biggest spike in road traffic accidents happened in the middle of World War 2?

posted by farrell [1311 posts]
3rd July 2014 - 11:45

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There are only a couple of data points that far back so the swings are much more pronounced.

I'd speculate that with more granularity it would show a fairly smooth rise up to the early forties as more and more people got access to cars, followed by a pretty sharp drop as the war progressed due to factors like the number of young men overseas, people selling cars to buy rations, and curfews on driving at night etc. (But I'm just guessing really)

The evidence is all there though - if we want to reduce road casualties further all we need is another World War.

Who's with me?

posted by GrahamSt [77 posts]
3rd July 2014 - 12:05

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It's harder to see during a blackout. Must have been a lot of black market petrol going around though. Wink

posted by Beatnik69 [45 posts]
3rd July 2014 - 12:07

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GrahamSt wrote:
There are only a couple of data points that far back so the swings are much more pronounced.

I'd speculate that with more granularity it would show a fairly smooth rise up to the early forties as more and more people got access to cars, followed by a pretty sharp drop as the war progressed due to factors like the number of young men overseas, people selling cars to buy rations, and curfews on driving at night etc. (But I'm just guessing really)

The evidence is all there though - if we want to reduce road casualties further all we need is another World War.

Who's with me?

That makes more sense, I focussed on the top point of the graph, rather than the large drop after.

posted by farrell [1311 posts]
3rd July 2014 - 12:11

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