Two in three commuters believe Britain's roads unfit for cycling, according to Brake survey

Road safety charity teams up with law firm to launch Cycle For Life initiative

by Simon_MacMichael   May 4, 2012  

London cyclist approaching junction.jpg

Two out of three commuters believe that most of Britain’s roads are unfit for cycling, according to the findings of a survey carried out by the road safety charity Brake in partnership with Bolt Burdon Kemp solicitors. Publication of the results coincides with the charity and the law firm jointly launching a campaign, called Cycle For Life, which calls for safer conditions for cyclists.

The survey of 1,550 commuters identified the perception that it is dangerous to cycle on the roads as the major barrier to more people switching to two wheels for their commute, with 35 per cent claiming they would switch to cycling if their route to work were less dangerous. Just under half, 46 per cent, said that they would increase the number of local journeys they made by bike if the roads were safer.

Around one in two respondents, 47 per cent, said that they already use a bike on roads, but 64 per cent of those only did so on an occasional basis. Women were far more likely than men never to cycle on roads, at 64 per cent against 43 per cent. Meanwhile, 39 per cent of males thought roads in their area were safe to cycle on, against 29 per cent of females.

Just 10 per cent of those surveyed – 13 per cent of men and 7 per cent of women – currently use a bike to commute, whether as their sole form of transport or as part of a journey involving different modes such as cycling to the station then taking a train. Cycle commuter

By age, people in their late 20s were more likely than those in any other age group to commute by bike and to believe local roads were safe.

Some 83 per cent of those taking part in the survey said they would support the introduction of features such as cycle paths in their local area, against 13 per cent who already benefit from such infrastructure, while 73 per cent would like 20mph zones in their neighbourhood, compared to 15 per cent who already have them.

In the Cycle For Life campaign, Brake and Bolt Burdon Kemp are appealing for:

  • Local authorities to implement widespread 20mph limits in communities to protect cyclists and pedestrians, and more traffic-free and segregated cycle paths on commuter routes and connecting homes and community facilities
  • Government to encourage and fund more local authorities to take these steps
  • Drivers to slow down to 20mph in communities and look out for cyclists, especially at junctions and on bends
  • Employers to play their part in promoting safe cycling, raising awareness about safe driving to protect cyclists, and ensuring commercial vehicles have the latest blind spot devices. Organisations signing up to back the campaign will get guidance on promoting safe cycling.

Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive of Brake, commented: “It’s positive the government is working to encourage cycling to improve health and reduce pollution, but it must also ensure roads are safe for cyclists.

“Widespread 20mph limits and cycle paths where people live and work would encourage more people to cycle, without their lives being threatened by fast traffic.

“It would also, crucially, help prevent those already cycling from falling victim to devastating crashes.

“This survey shows the huge amount of public support for safe cycling.

“We’re calling on the authorities, employers, and the driving public to act upon this, to enable people to take to their bikes without fear.”

Cheryl Abrahams, Partner at Bolt Burdon Kemp, added: “These results show that more people would be encouraged to cycle if roads were perceived as being safer for cyclists.

“In view of the many positive benefits cycling can have on health, the environment and people’s finances, this has to be encouraged.

“Through our work with injured cyclists all over the country, we understand the difficulties that cyclists on the road face.

“We have seen the devastation that road crashes can cause and that’s why we are working with Brake on the Cycle for life campaign and we call on the government to do more to ensure that roads are safer for cyclists.”

6 user comments

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From my point of view the poor state of road surface is my biggest complaint. The recent floods have only worsened existing potholes and I can't see the local councils having enough money to repair them.

posted by Chris James [109 posts]
4th May 2012 - 9:42

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I was wondering what dangerous meant. Too many inconsiderate cars and lorries or potholes?
To me the former is the worry. Lorries kill without any input from the cyclist. You can ride around a pothole ( and if the other traffic is considerate, even in towns)

posted by mattsccm [219 posts]
4th May 2012 - 9:48

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Potholes/Cars/Lorries are all part of one big issue: our roads aren't designed for cyclists. There are parts here abouts (south Manchester) were there is a 3 meter grass verge but no cycle lane on a single lane. Cars itching to get past you don't know why you can't cycling in the yellow line but two foot from the side of the road and dodging potholes because services companies dig up the road and have no responsibility to ensure its future condition.
The lazy response comes back that this is a 'small island.' As usual what we need is an intergrated design policy, something this country used to be good at. I don't see any councils at the morning doing anything but patching holes, no main roads have been relaid for years. Don't expect anything to change soon Plain Face

Only good at sitting-down sports

posted by kayakboyuk [41 posts]
5th May 2012 - 16:37

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I can't see how cycle paths is the solution. It's completely impractical to have cycle paths on all roads. It's much more important that drivers accept cyclists on the roads and ensure that roads are safe fro cyclists and other road users.

posted by paulfg42 [357 posts]
5th May 2012 - 17:05

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I have no idea how it can be done but I agree, other road users need to accept cyclists as equals. I ride to work in Manchester every day, some days pass without incident, most I have one or two, or more close calls. I've learnt to deal with them and these days, usually let them wash over me (you get used to where you need to be ultra cautious and aware). But this morning a bus (the number 8, if anyone cares) got so close to me I had to straight arm it and when I rode round it at the next red light (yes I stop for them, but that's my choice) the driver just slammed her window shut and shouted "go away" repeatedly, to me just saying "leave me more room". I think the trouble is, as cyclists, for the most part, we are just shunned as an inconvenience and an obstacle to get passed, which is an awful and worrying thought. But I don't see it changing anytime soon. I've ridden to work for more than 20 years now, but there's no way I will let my children (15 and 13) ride to school, which is rubbish because bikes are brilliant.

posted by elevensees [3 posts]
8th May 2012 - 10:25

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In my experience, drivers attitude to us cyclists are the problem. They appear to be taught to be inconsiderate towards cyclists! Only this morning a learner driver passed very close to me. Not blaming the learner, it's the instructor not teaching properly or has a problem with cyclist?

Morons of the world unite
Come drive on the roads tonight!

posted by pete666 [6 posts]
12th May 2012 - 13:25

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