On the same day that The Times newspaper has launched its Cities Fit For Cycling campaign, British Cycling has published the results of feedback from its members on road safety issues and says that the key issue raised is that “greater mutual respect between motorists and cyclists will make the road a safer place to ride a bike.”
Potential initiatives highlighted by British Cycling that could help turn that into reality include placing a greater emphasis on cycle safety in both the driving test and the Highway Code, more enforcement of laws banning the use of mobile phones at the wheel, and redesigning poorly planned roads and junctions which it says puts inexperienced riders particularly at risk.
Ian Drake, British Cycling’s chief executive, said: “As more people take to their bikes, we take seriously our responsibility to ensure they are able to do so in a safe environment.
“The reality is that the number of cycling deaths and injuries on the roads is decreasing and evidence suggests that the more people who cycle, the safer it becomes.
“However, for us, even one death is one too many and by listening to our members we can better understand what needs to be done to help create the necessary mutual respect required between motorists and cyclists to ensure both can use the roads in a safe manner.
Mr Drake reiterated the point also made by The Times today that rather than cyclists and drivers being two distinct tribes, very often they are one and the same people, and called for that misconception to be set aside.
“It’s essential that we get away from this sense of ‘them and us’ between motorists and cyclists,” he explained. “Most people who ride a bike also drive a car which suggests there should already be some mutual understanding.
“Now more needs to be done to build on this and create culture in which all road users can better respect each other.
“And it’s important to stress that cyclists have as much of a role to play in this as motorists, by ensuring they adhere to the rules of the road with regards to things like stopping at red traffic lights and signalling correctly,” he added.
British Cycling member Ian Austin MP, who is also Co-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Cycling Group, said: “I'm very pleased to see British Cycling, of which I have been a member for many years, making its voice heard in this sphere and I look forward to playing my part in Westminster to get the changes needed.”
Key findings highlighted in the report, a copy of which can be downloaded at the end of this article include, according to British Cycling:
- In terms of greater cycle awareness in driving tests, the two areas highlighted for particular attention were that drivers should know how to overtake cyclists safely, and how much space to allow cyclists.
- With regards to road layouts, the most common complaint was about cycle lanes that end too abruptly.
- As well as the compulsory introduction of improved mirrors to reduce blind spots on HGVs, it was widely felt that better education for drivers to ensure they look out for cyclists and better education for cyclists about the risks of cycling on the inside of HGV would help reduce the risk of HGV-related accidents.
- The reduction of urban speed limits from 30mph to 20mph would reduce the severity of injuries sustained in any accidents, although it was acknowledged that drivers might become agitated if they had to drive at that speed.
Rob Gifford, Executive Director of the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety, welcomed the findings of the report, commenting: “This is very consistent with what we know about how best to further improve road safety and I think that the overall theme that measures should promote mutual respect and understanding between road users is exactly right.”
British Cycling says that along with its lawyers, Leigh Day, it will now seek to engage politicians and others who form policy to help improve conditions for cyclists, in line with its members’ wishes. It added that “this has already begun with engagement with the Transport Minister and all the London Mayoral candidates on the key issues.”
Olympic Road Race Champion Nicole Cooke, who this morning was quoted at length in The Times on the issue of cycle safety, reiterated those points in a statement accompanying the release of the British Cycling report.
“We know that personal safety, and the perceived risks associated with cycling, can be a barrier to getting on a bike, especially amongst women,” she said.
“If we want to continue to see participation grow we need to address this and make tangible changes to ensure the roads are safer for cyclists.
“Through greater respect we can ensure more people can enjoy riding a bike which has got to be a good thing to strive towards particularly in the year of a home Olympic and Paralympic Games.”
Publication of the report comes in the same week that it was revealed that Team Sky rider Geraint Thomas is to help front a 'Share The Road' campaign being jointly launched by British Cycling and the car manufacturer Fiat, its official vehicle supplier.
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.