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More than half of drivers say cycle lanes are not big enough for bikes

More than half of motorists don’t believe cycle lanes are big enough, with large numbers saying they feel ‘anxious’ and ‘aware’ when driving near cyclists.

A survey by JMW Solicitors also found that one in five motorists think that a complete re-design of the country’s infrastructure is needed, and nearly three quarters of cyclists do not think there is enough cycle infrastructure in their neighbourhood.

Out of 654 respondents, 57 per cent of those identifying themselves as motorists answered ‘no’ to the question “Do you think the current cycle lanes are big enough for cyclists?”. 

Meanwhile, 72 per cent of those identifying themselves as cyclists answered ‘no’ to the question “Do you think your local town/city has an adequate cycling infrastructure?”

One cyclist commented on the survey: “This is a pressing issue that really needs to be dealt with - cycle lanes need to be seriously improved (rather than thin yards-long strips being painted in existing lanes) and there needs to be more segregated, purpose-built cycle routes, especially to and from town.”

Jane Bedford McLaren, senior associate and head of JMW’s cycling claims team, Twisted Spokes, said: “The findings of this survey underline what many cyclists have long argued, that cycling infrastructure as it stands, is simply not fit for purpose.

“British cycle lanes are inadequate because they are often too narrow and do not connect with other cycle lanes to create a complete network. Ideally, cycle lanes should be separate from the road and if this is not possible, at least wider than they currently are; a third of the road.

“More also needs to be done to link up existing cycle lanes, and create new ones, particularly securing the safety of commuting cyclists into and out of the city centre.”

Twenty per cent of motorists agreed that a complete redesign of the country’s infrastructure is needed, whilst 42 per cent echoed the sentiment that segregated cycling was the best thing that could be done for cyclists in the future.

Motorists also reported feeling apprehensive when driving near cyclists, with 47 per cent stating it made them feel ‘aware’ and 36 per cent saying they were ‘anxious’.  These figures were broadly mirrored by cyclists, 49 per cent of whom were ‘aware’ and 38% ‘anxious’.

Jane continues: “It is really positive that a majority of motorists surveyed agree that cycle lanes are not large enough, as it demonstrates that there are drivers out there who have some understanding of cyclists’ needs.  However, that understanding needs to be broadened and deepened.

“We ultimately need to be realistic about how our infrastructure is being used, and ensure our city’s growing passion for cycling is matched by a robust infrastructure development vision.  All future development needs to bear cyclists and motorists in mind to enable a better, fairer usage of our roads.”


Respondents to a survey commissioned by the BBC last month also said that it is too dangerous to ride on the roads where they live.

We reported how the poll of 3,012 adults, carried out by ComRes, found that 52 per cent said that their local roads were too dangerous for cyclists, and only a third, 34 per cent, were of the opinion that the streets where they live are well designed for bike riders.

Meanwhile, 55 per cent believe that employers are not doing enough to encourage and facilitate cycling to work.

According to British Cycling, current annual per capita spend on cycling in the UK is £2, compared to £24 in the Netherlands.

Martin Lucas-Smith of the Cambridge Cycling Campaign, the largest such group outside London, said that residents of many parts of the UK “felt unsafe to cycle."

He also said that "things like narrow cycle lanes" and "badly maintained roads" contributed to safety fears among riders.

"We'd like to see proper allocation of space on these roads which can almost always be achieved simply by a bit of redesign, so people can cycle safely and easily," he added.

After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on road.cc.