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9,000 women petition minister to improve road safety for cyclists

Sustrans co-ordinates petition calling for segregated cycle lanes among other improvements

Transport Minister Sadiq Khan was yesterday presented with a petition signed by 9,000 women urging him to make Britain’s roads safer to cycle on, including through the provision of segregated bike lanes.

The petition was delivered to Mr Khan personally at the House of Commons by female cyclists Rachael Wood from London and Terry Cassels from Essex, acting on behalf of all those who had signed it. Copies of the petition were also given to the National Assembly for Wales in Cardiff and to Stewart Stevenson, the Scottish Transport Minister, in Edinburgh (pictured).

The petition, which was launched last September, resulted from research from the sustainable transport charity Sustrans which showed that almost eight in ten women in Britain never cycle, with the most common barrier cited being the perception that cycling wasn’t felt to be safe. The majority of respondents cited segregated cycle lanes as the answer to getting more women to take to their bikes.

Sustrans co-ordinated the petition, which stated: “We, the undersigned, want to be able to choose to cycle much more. To do this we need to feel safe when we cycle. We demand that governments prioritise the creation of environments that encourage and support cycling, specifically this must include cycle paths separated from traffic, as a way of enabling many more women to travel by bike.”

Besides Sustrans, the petition was also supported by other organisations such as the charity Mind, the National Federation of Women’s Institutes, the Townswomen’s Guilds and Women in Rural Enterprise.

After handing the petition to Mr Khan, Ms Wood said: “Whenever I talk to other people about cycling, particularly women, I get the same story - they just don’t feel safe enough on the roads. That really has to change if we are to encourage more people to travel by bike.”

Melissa Henry from Sustrans added: “Women have told us that they don’t cycle because they don’t feel safe enough. It’s great to have all these signatures backing our call for safer cycling, but this is just the start. Governments now have to take all these voices seriously and make changes across the country that will mean more people can choose to make everyday journeys by bike, without feeling unsafe.”

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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skippy | 13 years ago

DRIVER EDUCATION is the only way that the safety of cycling can be improved ! Watching a vehicle that has barely passed you repeat the same tactics on the cyclists in front of you can be off putting to all let alone women who only ride occasionally.

In europe the minimum passing distance is 1 1/2m or 5ft but in the UK barely inches are the norm.

Last sunday i was out in the area around macclefield with Seamons Cycle Club who are worth visiting when in the UK and the number of "Hooray Charlies" who passed on blind uphill corners was appalling. Do all motorists think that when they have an accident on a Sunday they go straight to heaven?

the previous visit to UK was "Fathers day" and i was in Oxon, passed on double whites on a blind corner my riding partners (expert level) were nearly skittled. I chased down the culprit who got caught at lights further on and his excuse was that "they were late for lunch"! Had i powers of arrest they would have missed their lunch!

Selfish behaviour is an acquired trait and it takes continual practice , driver education can set ground rules to practice and hopefully modify future behaviour!

Tony | 14 years ago

I know its well intended but all the studies show that segregated bike lanes do not increase cycling. Dublin built a whole network and cycling levels stayed static. There has been lots of research done on why people don't cycle and the lack of cycle lanes is not the reason. A study by Leeds University found that even if you could build a segregated cycle facility that went everywhere it would increase cycling by only 50% whereas paying people £2 a day to cycle would double it.

The Guardian has London's main segregated cycle facility as the first of its Worst Cycle Lanes series while the Evening Standard nominated it as the worst place to cycle in London.

So lets not compound the error with more of the things.

the-daily-ripper | 14 years ago

I really hope cyclists will be in on any action and subsequent implementation on this, else segregated cycle lanes in itself is a flawed concept on the basis of current road designs and the ability to have a continuous journey (i.e. not continually having to stop for junctions as the cycle lane is built onto what was the pavement).

Additionally, I don't want to create a scenario (which appears to be the case in areas where there is a segregated cycle lane whereby drivers become more aggressive to those that choose not to use it, (primarily due to poor maintenance, debris, random signs, multiple stops at sideroads.)

I'd also like to throw in the consideration as to what journeys those who've signed the petition actively undertake? Commuting into London I see plenty of girls riding quite happily along, and with the same amount of caution and respect for other road users that those who aren't afraid of riding on the road. What makes these women different? Media frenzy of death on the roads? One bad experience? Lack of cycling confidence in general?

Creating divisions within the cycling community for what I perceive to be a minority is a bad thing in my opinion, and I can see in trying to meet govt / council targets on number of people cycling there will be more assent to suggestions and non-inclusive surveys like this.

There are far bigger things to campaign against on the roads to make them safer than just asking for different paths.

TRs Blurb n Blog | 14 years ago

I was hoping to get into a discussion on why his wife felt that she could only ride her bike if she was wearing a helmet. Is it because his wife thinks the roads are too dangerous?

Jon Burrage | 14 years ago

same response amongst 85% of the women that I work with, and some men...

TRs Blurb n Blog | 14 years ago

I met Transport Minister Sadiq Khan on Monday and he said that his wife doesn't ride a bike because she doesn't want 'helmet hair'.

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