More than half of the respondents to a survey by British Cycling on cycling in London, timed to coincide with this week’s mayoral elections, say that giving bike riders more dedicated space on the roads to cyclists should be the greatest priority for whoever is elected mayor on Thursday. That issue garnered twice the level of responses of the next most requested priority, the redesign of London’s worst junctions.
The findings of the survey (full results are shown at the end of this article) have been published ahead of today’s hustings, hosted jointly by Sustrans and The Times, which will see the four leading mayoral candidates – the Conservative Boris Johnson, who is seeking re-election, Labour’s Ken Livingstone, the Liberal Democrat Brian Paddick and the Green Party’s Jenny Jones – debate the issue of cycle safety.
British Cycling will also be attending the event this afternoon, and asked survey respondents which question they would like it to put to candidates. Three topics received broadly similar levels of support – “What single initiative do you propose to transform London into a cycling city?” at 35.0 per cent, “How will you put cycling at the heart of the capital’s transport policy?” with 31.5 per cent, and “How will you ensure there is more mutual respect between road users?” chosen by 29.9 per cent.
The other potential question topic, “What will you do to ensure more people give cycling a try?” was endorsed by just 3.6 per cent of respondents, possibly suggesting that making the city’s roads safer for those who already cycle is viewed as a higher priority than encouraging more people to do so.
Respondents were also asked to identify the main hazard that they encountered when cycling in the capital, with “Careless/inconsiderate driving (including cars, HGVs, buses)” overwhelmingly the most-chosen response at 61.3 per cent, with “potholes or other poor road conditions” second at 17.3 per cent and “Badly designed road junctions” third with 12.3 per cent.
The survey was conducted via surveymonkey.com between 12 and 26 April, with 1,471 people responding to a request to take part made via British Cycling’s weekly members’ newsletter, as well as on its Facebook and Twitter feeds, with the organisation asking, “Do you cycle in London, if so take a few seconds to fill out our survey.”
Because of that, the results do need to be treated with a little bit of caution, since British Cycling members, or those who became aware of the survey via social media channels, are likely to be more engaged with cycling issues in general than people contacted via a random survey who are asked whether they ride a bike before having the questions put to them; there’s also no guarantee that all respondents do actually ride in London.
Martin Gibbs, Director of Policy and Legal Affairs at British Cycling, said: “Our survey has put beyond doubt what London’s mayor should be focusing on to transform cycling in the capital.
“The key issue that over half of respondents have put at the top of the mayor’s to-do list is that they want more dedicated space on the roads.
“Over two thirds of respondents said careless and inconsiderate driving is their main concern. The new mayor needs to urgently address this with policies to create a better climate of mutual respect on London's roads.
“We'll be attending the hustings today and are keen to work with whoever is elected to make London a better city to ride a bike in,” he added.
Olympic champion road cyclist Nicole Cooke, commented: “If London is going to be transformed into a fantastic cycling city then whoever is elected as mayor needs to take the findings of this survey seriously.
“We know that perceived risk to safety puts people off cycling and the mayor should place focus on this.
“By creating more dedicated space for cyclists and fostering a culture of mutual respect, London could create a cycling experience that could one day rival great cities like Copenhagen or Amsterdam.”
British Cycling London cycling survey, April 2012
What do you think should be top of Mayoral candidates’ lists to transform cycling in London? More dedicated space/lanes for cycling 52.2 per cent Redesign of London’s worst junctions 26.6 per cent Banning HGVs that are not fitted with the latest safety equipment 10.2 per cent 20mph speed limit in all residential areas 9.2 per cent Rolling out the Barclays bike hire scheme to cover more areas 2.3 per cent What is the main hazard you encounter when cycling in London? Careless/inconsiderate driving (including cars, HGVs, buses) 61.3 per cent Potholes or other poor road conditions 17.3 per cent Badly designed road junctions 12.3 per cent Pedestrians 3.6 per cent Parked vehicles 2.8 per cent Other cyclists 2.7 per cent British Cycling will attend the mayoral hustings cycling event on 30 April. What question would you like us to raise with candidates? What single initiative do you propose to transform London into a cycling city? 35.0 per cent How will you put cycling at the heart of the capital’s transport policy? 31.5 per cent How will you ensure there is more mutual respect between road users? 29.9 per cent What will you do to ensure more people give cycling a try? 3.6 per cent
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.