Charity reacts to Sunday Times article hailing “victory” for motorists in “long-running battle

Cycling UK as urged the media to stop depicting cyclists and drivers as two distinct tribes that are fighting with each other, describing it as “a tired and lazy cliché.”

The charity was reacting to an article in The Sunday Times which, as we highlighted here on rosd.cc at the weekend, claimed that drivers had scored a “victory” due to a fall in the number of cyclists.

> Sunday Times claims “victory” for drivers as number of people cycling on English roads drops (updated with survey details)

Quoting some of the opening words of the newspaper’s article – “Motorists’ long-running battle with cyclists on British roads – Duncan Dollimore, head of campaigns at Cycling UK, said: “We’ve heard it all before, and while it sets up a ‘heroes and villains’ narrative that is perhaps more engaging for some readers, it simply is not true.

“It’s a tired and lazy cliché, trying to create tribes on the road that doesn’t stand up against the facts, and could arguably reinforce the wider public’s perception that cycling is a dangerous activity, when the stats show it is not.”

Dollimore emphasised that cyclists are more likely than not to be motorists themselves,

“Over 90 per cent of Cycling UK’s members drive, so when you exclude the young, we think it’s fair to say most people who cycle do drive,” he said.

“What is clear though with only 2 per cent of all journeys being made by bike, most people driving do not cycle – and therefore do not understand or even know how to drive around people on bikes safely.

“It’s our firm belief therefore that most poor driving around cyclists is therefore not malicious in intent, but rather comes through a lack of awareness.”

He went on to highlight some of the initiatives the charity is taking to try and make Britain’s roads safer for cyclists.

“That’s one of the main reasons Cycling UK launched our Too Close For Comfort campaign and have supplied police forces across the UK with close pass mats and VR headsets – to educate people unfamiliar with cycling and the dangers of close passing,” he explained

“It’s why last summer Cycling UK campaigned for changes to the Highway Code that would create greater clarity on overtaking of cyclists and clearer guidance to prevent car-dooring through the Dutch Reach.

“More than 10,000 people wrote to the Department for Transport in support of this, and together we made a difference, as last October the Cycling Minister, Jesse Norman MP, announced these changes would be going through,” he added.

Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.