Do big cycling events like the Tour de France have a positive effect on drivers’ perception of everyday cyclists? It’s an idea campaigners are often sceptical about, but a survey from a Yorkshire car dealer has found that 73 percent of drivers says they drive more carefully around cyclists because of the publicity around the Tour.
In the survey of 2,100 drivers and cyclists conducted for ColinAppleyard.com, a whopping 90 percent of drivers said they were more aware of cyclists thanks to the Tour, which kicks off in Leeds on July 5.
Drivers say the build-up to the two days of racing has made them consider cyclists as equal road users to motor vehicles, and some are even thinking of buying a bike themselves.
Yorkshire cyclists have noticed a difference too, with many saying that they’ve noticed greater courtesy and patience on roads around Yorkshire.
“Le Tour has really caught the local imagination,” said company spokesman Robin Appleyard, “and it’s pleasing to hear that drivers have shifted their attitudes to bicycle users for the better.”
According to the research:
90% of Yorkshire drivers say they’re more aware of cyclists thanks to Le Tour
73% said they now drive more carefully around cyclists
59% of drivers admitted they had driven discourteously around cyclists in the last two years
10% of drivers say the Tour de France has made them consider buying a bike
And it's not just drivers saying they've mended their ways:
65% of cyclists say they’ve noticed a greater courtesy toward them in the last month
88% of cyclists said they had been the victim of bad driving in the last two years
Appleyard says the survey shows encouraging signs that public attitudes to cyclists are changing thanks to the publicity surrounding July’s Grand Départ and the two major stages between Leeds and Harrogate and York to Sheffield.
He said: “For one, it’s doing away with the erroneous assumption of ‘At least I pay my road tax’.”
As followers of the ‘road tax’ wars in social media will know, Vehicle Excise Duty is calculated on a vehicle’s emissions, so as Appleyard points out: “As a zero emission vehicle the cyclist pays the same duty as an electric-powered car like the Nissan Leaf.”
Appleyard also said there’s a significant crossover between both modes of transport: “Most cyclists are car users as well. They know what it’s like both in the saddle and behind the wheel, and lead by example for other drivers.”
Acknowledged by the Telegraph as a leading cycling journalist, John Stevenson has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.
He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.
Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for CyclingNews.com. Along with road.cc editor Tony Farelly, John was on the launch team for BikeRadar.com and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.
John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of TotalWomensCycling.com before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.
He joined road.cc in 2013 and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.