Better infrastructure and training not helmet law the way to make cycling safer says poll

More public money spent on cycling will make it safer, but compulsory helmets and a licensing or registration process for cyclists won't according to a poll of over 6000 people carried out by the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM).

Overall only 1 per cent of respondents favoured the compulsory wearing of cycling helmets - more 20 mph zones and more physically separate cycle lanes and compulsory basic training for cyclists or a cycling element to the driving test were the two biggest factors IAM members thought would make the biggest difference to the safety of cyclists – while 32 per cent of non-IAM members listed "other" as their favoured method, more physically separate cycle lanes and further intoroduction and enforcement of 20mph zones were the next most popular. Amongst non-IAM members, compulsory basic training for cyclists or a cycling element to the driving test enjoyed enjoyed the support of 11.03 per cent.

Poll highlights

  • 21.49 per cent suggested further introduction and enforcement of 20 mph zones.
  • 30.1 per cent suggested further introduction of physically separate cycle lanes.
  • 40.24 per cent thought additional police resources should be made available to ensure cyclists adhere to the rules of the road.
  • 82.46 per cent thought the introduction of a licence or registration process for cyclists was a bad idea.

A full list of questions and responses broken down between members and non-members is attached to this story for you to download.

Of the voters in the poll 16.41 per cent were Institute of Advanced Motorist members, 1.78 per cent associate members, and 81.81 per cent non-members. 

84.52% of AIM members voting in the poll wanted to see more public money spent on cycling to make it safer a figure that rose to a whopping 97.96 amongst non-members – many of whom it's fair to say were probably cyclists. What was most striking about the responses to the poll - which attracted over 6000 votes was the level of agreement between members and non- members on most issues

The other big difference between the responses of IAM members and non-members is that perhaps unsurprisingly for members of a motoring organisation 66 per cent of them either agreed or agreed strongly with the statement "additional police resources should be made available to ensure cyclists adhere to the rules of the road" that figure dropped to 43 per cent amongst non-members.

Commenting on the poll Duncan Pickering, IAM Cycling Development Manager, said: “It is encouraging that people see additional public money – by extension further training and improved infrastructure – as the most important factor affecting cyclist’s safety .
“While we would never discourage cyclists from wearing helmets, we would stress that cyclist behaviour, awareness of other road users and visibility are the factors that would make a bigger difference to cycle safety.”

The marked preference for further spending in infrastructure improvements as the best way of making cycling safer reflects the IAM's own position on the subject. The IAM has called for funding to be allocated to cycle training as well as better cycle lanes.
“Government, employers and individuals all have a part to play in making cycling a safe and easy way of getting around for everybody, through education and by encouraging a mutual awareness and respect amongst cyclists and other road users,” said Mr Pickering.
“As a voice for motorists, bikers and cyclists the IAM looks forward to encouraging better communication and cooperation between every type of road user to make the UK’s roads safer for all.”


Plucked from the obscurity of his London commute back in the mid-Nineties to live in Bath and edit bike mags our man made the jump to the interweb back in 2006 as launch editor of a large cycling website somewhat confusingly named after a piece of navigational equipment. He came up with the idea for road.cc mainly to avoid being told what to do… Oh dear, issues there then. Tony tries to ride his bike every day and if he doesn't he gets grumpy, he likes carbon, but owns steel, and wants titanium. When not on his bike or eating cake Tony spends his time looking for new ways to annoy the road.cc team. He's remarkably good at it.


workhard [400 posts] 7 years ago

Maybe people who pass their ADT/ART, and presumably pride themselves in their good driving skills, are just a bit more thoughtful than the average road user.

Nice one AIM!

the-daily-ripper [174 posts] 7 years ago

given the way this went viral on the cycling forums, I'm not really sure the results give us anything we didn't know. Only around 1200 IAM members completed it - hardly representative of the driving population.

Ultimately, the users of this site are likely to have very different viewpoints / priorities for cycling as opposed to Mumsnet or twat.com, so sadly the net comes down to education for ALL road users to make sure that the rules are followed.

nick_rearden [438 posts] 7 years ago

yeh but yorkshire, we do know these things because we're cyclists. The point of the story and, indeed, the reason the IAM have positioned themselves viz a viz cycling is that there are reasonable, sensible drivers out there - not enough, obviously - and if these sorts of opinions aren't given airtime we'll be swamped with the usual barrage of Daily Mail knee-jerk "all cyclists jump traffic lights" rubbish. This is to be encouraged. Now read this:


the-daily-ripper [174 posts] 7 years ago

I read that article, and sadly it doesn't correspond to my own daily commute from Surbiton through to the City. Just because someone writes a blog doesn't make them any more correct than Matthew Parris or James Martin.

The problem with any survey like this is that it's only representative of a minority, and as soon as it hit the forums around the cycling community, the findings became pretty much unsubstantiable as they will naturally filter through to the people that are confident and have a defined opinion on how things should be done.

The only things that need to happen are a consideration for all road users by other road users, a clear and demonstrable understanding of road rules and adherence to them, and effective enforcement when these are breached. Until this happens we'll always be at loggerheads with some other road users.