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Almost half of Londoners would ride more if road safety improved

Survey by London boroughs finds perception of danger biggest obstacle to cycling

Forty-seven per cent of Londoners would cycle more if road safety improved, according to a survey by London Councils, the organisation representing the capital’s 32 local borough councils.

The poll of 1,000 Londoners indicated that other incentives that would encourage cycling include having safe places to lock bikes (27 per cent); if streets were in a better condition (21 per cent); better cycling infrastructure (20 per cent); a safer urban environment (16 per cent) and less pollution (10 per cent).

The report comes the day after research from Slater & Gordon, solicitors to the cycling charity CTC, that showed that eight out of ten cyclists fear for their safety on the roads.

The objective of the London Councils’ survey was to find out what people thought needed to be done to make cycling more attractive.

Chair of London Councils’ Transport and Environment Committee, Councillor Catherine West, said: “We did the survey to find out what measures would encourage people to cycle more as journeys made by bike have significant health and environmental benefits and can often be quicker and more convenient than taking public transport or driving.

“Boroughs are responsible for 95 per cent of London’s roads and are committed to giving residents more opportunities to cycle through a range of innovative schemes which make a real difference to neighbourhoods.”

Cycling activists will doubtless point out the problem with surveys like this is that what people say they want, and the measures that actually change people’s behaviour can be very different.

‘Improved road safety’ in particular, is an umbrella notion that has many constituents, whereas providing safe places to lock bikes is quite specific.

According to the report, borough councils’ road safety initiatives include 20mph speed limit schemes and most recently borough-wide 20 mph limits; training and raising awareness of good road safety practice, particularly among lorry drivers and cyclists; and community-led road safety improvements.

They also install bollards to slow down traffic using rat runs, make busy junctions safer and ensure road safety measures form part of planning permission agreements for local developments.

Other measures widely promoted to improve safety for cyclists include building specific cycling infrastructure, as many cycling activists are now demanding, fitting lorries with additional mirrors and sensors, and enforcing road laws banning drivers from talking on the phone and texting while driving.

Five London boroughs -  Lambeth, Southwark, Hounslow, Haringey and Ealing - are bidding for funding from the European Union to improve cycling in their areas.

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.

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