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Survey design suggests cyclists at fault for accidents they're involved in?

Nottingham Road Safety Partnership's questions focus on cyclist behavioue...

An online survey drawn up by the Nottinghamshire Road Safety Partnership to tie in with their Use Your Cycle Helmet Campainc which seeks to get more people to  helmets and high-visibility clothing while riding their bikes appears to give the impression that it is the behaviour of cyclists themselves that is responsible for many of the accidents they are involved in.

The campaign and the survey that accompanies it forms part of the Road Safety Partnership’s backing of a global campaign launched yesterday by the United Nations called Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020, as well as the charity Headway’s Action for Brain Injury Week.

One of the questions in the survey asks respondents, “What do you think are the main causes of collisions involving cycles (select all that apply).” The options given are:

  • Cyclist impaired by alcohol
  • Cyclist wearing dark clothing at night
  • Cyclist entering road from pavement or off-road cycle path
  • Slippery road due to weather conditions
  • Road user passing too close to a cyclist
  • Stationary or parked vehicles
  • Motorist failing to look properly
  • Cyclist or motorist in a hurry
  • Cyclist or motorist failing to judge another road user's path or speed
  • Cyclist failing to look properly
  • Cyclist or motorist performing a poor manoeuvre
  • Other (please specify)

The survey appears to have been drawn up using the online polling site Survey Monkey. We may be wrong, but from a market researcher’s point of view, it doesn’t seem to have been drawn up by someone with much of a grasp of market research, while from a cyclist’s perspective, the questions don’t look like ones that a cyclist would have come up with.

Besides the fact that only cyclists appear to be deemed guilty of taking to the roads while impaired by alcohol, the main issue is that seven of the 11 questions focus on the behaviour of the cyclist. True, three of those do mention motorists too, but there’s a world of difference between the potential effect of a cyclist or a motorist being in a hurry, for example.

Meanwhile, not one of the questions mentions lorries or other large vehicles, which are of course responsible for a disproportionate number of cyclist casualties.

The full survey is available online here and will be open until Friday 27 May. Those completing it will have a chance to win cycle helmets worth £50 or hi-viz Think Bike Packs.

We have tried to contact the Nottinghamshire Road Safety Partenrship for a comment and will update once we have had a response.

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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