A survey published by an insurance company claims that one in three regular cyclists in Britain have been knocked off their bikes by other road users at some point, rising to more than four in ten riders in London. The research, commissioned by insurance firm Protect Your Bubble from One Poll, questioned 2,016 regular cyclists, defined as those who ride their bike once a week or more.
Some 42 per cent of cyclists in the capital said that they had been knocked off their bike at least once, compared to a national average of 32 per cent, with the lowest proportion seen in Wales, at 25 per cent.
That’s not a surprising finding – London has higher levels of regular cyclists, especially commuters, than most other regions of the UK, and competition for road space is greater in the capital than elsewhere, coupled with the fact that it’s an exclusively urban location, unlike the others analysed which combine towns, cities and countryside.
Nearly one in three cyclists living in London – 32 per cent – claimed that they had either been knocked off their bike or had a close shave with another road user during the past month alone. That compares to 29 per cent of riders in Scotland, and 27 per cent in South West England.
Cyclists aged 25 to 34 were found to be most likely to have been knocked off their bikes at some point, at 40 per cent, although that does seem slightly counter-intuitive given that you’d expect older cyclists to have racked up more miles over the years – unless those included in the sample were weighted towards more recent converts to two wheels?
Members of the 25-34 age group were also found to be twice as likely as those aged 45-54 to have had a near miss with another road user within the past month.
The survey also looked at cyclists’ behaviour, with 14 per cent confessing to having damaged another vehicle while cycling, skewed towards 18-24-year-olds at 18 per cent, compared to 8 per cent of those aged 55 or older.
The survey also found that just under one in three riders said they had jumped a red light at a pedestrian crossing – presumably distinct from those at a road junction – although of course it’s impossible to say from that result how many might do that regularly compared to the proportion of respondents who’ve done so perhaps once with no-one waiting to cross.
Stephen Ebbett, director of Protect Your Bubble said: “Despite significant investment by local councils across the country to improve road safety for cyclists, it is worrying how many have been involved in incidents with other road users.
“It also might raise a few eyebrows just how many cyclists have been knocked off their bikes by other road users on more than one occasion. The fact is that UK roads are dangerous places and cyclists need to ensure they are safe and prepared at all times.”
Protect Your Bubble, of course, is in the business of selling insurance, and said that its survey findings highlighted the need for cyclists to take out cover.
“Collisions, even minor ones, can cause significant damage to a bike,” continued Mr Ebbett. “We estimate that 75-80% the cyclists on UK roads at any one time are not insured, which means if they are in a collision and their bike is damaged, they could be facing a huge bill to have it fixed or replaced.
“Considering that many bikes can cost more than £1,000, it is worth considering taking out insurance, particularly for cyclists who rely on their bike on a daily basis to travel to and from work.
“Public liability cover is too often overlooked, but it’s actually crucial,” he added. “In the event that a cyclist damages a person, vehicle or property, public liability cover is there to absorb the cost of legal fees or repair work on a damaged vehicle, so the cyclist doesn't have to pay out of his or her own pocket.
"If you hit a pedestrian who then takes legal action as they cannot work due to their injuries, legal fees and compensation could stretch to hundreds of thousands of pounds, so it really does pay to have this type of protection. Specialist bicycle insurance costs as little at £1.99 [per month according to the company website – ed] so it won't break the bank."
Public liability and legal fees insurance specifically tailored to cyclists are of course also offered as part of the membership package at no or minimal cost by organisations such as British Cycling and CTC.
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.