Road Safety News

Cycling report identifies “lack of enthusiasm” among young people

Tuesday 12th August 2014

A report looking at young people’s attitudes to cycling was declared the ‘runaway winner’ in a competition organised as part of the ‘Insight into Management’ programme.

The report identified a “lack of enthusiasm for cycling among young people”, who see it as “different and embarrassing”.

55 sixth form students from a consortium of schools in Barking and Dagenham participated in Insight into Management earlier this summer.

Insight into Management is organised by the Education Business Partnership at the London Borough of Barking & Dagenham, and focuses on the potential of students to move into managerial roles once they commence employment. The programme includes a five-day placement with a host company where students work in groups on a challenge they are set.

At the end, students present their reports to an audience comprising participating employers, teachers, students and a panel of judges.

This year the prize for the best report went to a team from The Warren School in Chadwell Heath - Shaun Anderson, Jonathan Mujikwa and Aminata Sankoh – who were placed with the London Ambulance Service (LAS) and mentored by Paul Jeffrey, LAS public education officer.

Their challenge was to explore young people’s attitudes to cycling, and their report identifies “a lack of enthusiasm for cycling among young people”.

It went on to say: “Among young people cycling is seen as different and embarrassing which results in peer pressure… this is a significant factor in the low level of young cyclists.

“There is a significantly higher level of resistance to cycling among secondary school children and secondary school teachers. Secondary schools do not seem to appreciate the important health benefits that cycling can have… and it will take a significant change in mindset before we see any dramatic rise in the number of secondary school children cycling.

“Parents are a major part of the challenge to increase cycling among young children. Some have very negative views of cycling which creates a barrier to participation in young children.”

The judges declared the report the runaway winner and Kathy Carson, education business partnership manager with the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham, said it was “the best student report I have seen in the Insight into Management programme”.


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The problem with this survey was that they listened to the opinions of teenagers. As a parent of three teenagers, I have learned that almost none of their views make any sense whatsoever - in just the same way that my views forty years ago must have done. Teenagers' opinions are based on the premise that they know everything, when in fact they know almost nothing. Ask them in a few years time when they might have grown up a bit.
David, Suffolk

Agree (6) | Disagree (2)

Let's face it, whilst as a kid or teenager I could ride a bike, but I would be looking at a car as a form of transport when I get older. Even school or college a scooter/ motorcycle could be considered acceptable but less so than 4 wheels. It's something that youth aspires to.

Eventually as I grow older, more mature and sensible I realise that the car isn't everything and I see more adults are taking to biking, particularly my colleagues and so I step down, save the environment, become healthier and see the wisdom of a cycle.

The youths are just at that age. They will get over it. In the meantime if we encourage cycling in the younger age groups it will filter through and hopefully by the time they are mature they will be accepted and accommodated more.
bob craven Lancs

Agree (9) | Disagree (0)

I believe it was the CTC some years ago that came out with some findings that people from poorer areas see a bicycle as a reinforcement of their poor background and they aspire to owning a car. Take a look at most cyclists on the morning commute through Hackney and it is pretty obvious that the cyclists are young, middle class professionals on their way to the city, or cycle as a lifestyle choice. As the research was conducted in Barking and Dagenham, a generally poorer/working class borough this may have had an effect on the findings. I may be wrong but I've never known a teenage lad impress a girl by showing off his Rockhopper MTB. Like the TFL advert shows, let's all learn to share the road and calm down. It's surely about making travel safe for everyone.
Keith Gammon, Buzz Road Safety Education

Agree (16) | Disagree (2)

The research whilst academicly not scutinised seems to ring true with other research published for London. I do think this can be a localised issue. I think you would get very different results if you were to conduct the same research in other areas of the UK. It again points to the importance of normalising cycling. These young people should be commended for shedding more light on what is a huge barrier to getting secondary school pupils cycling.
Oli London

Agree (8) | Disagree (0)

I am surprised the report showed young people as thinking cycling 'uncool', as most of the youngsters from the secondary school adjacent to our last home rode bikes - mostly of the BMX variety, but also Mountain bikes - on and off the pavement, and against traffic flow at times. The same applies to many young people between the ages of 12 and 17yrs of age where we now live. The uptake of cycling on the roads appears to be of those enthusiasts who don brightly coloured lycra; wrap around tinted glasses; brightly coloured helmets and racing bikes. Their riding habits also appear somewhat forceful bordering on aggressive, speed being their primary goal. Then there is the occasional person who lights his bike up with several LED lamps, mirrors and dayglo clothing who goes out of his/her way to obstruct and hinder motor vehicles in general. Luckily they are few, but they do get noticed. Is it the latter that puts off young people? Or the style of clothing required to ride at all? Certainly the railway station at St Albans has seen an uptake in commuters using bikes to the station. But that in part comes down to the cost and availability of parking, and might have little reflection on young people.
Derek Reynolds, Salop.

Agree (8) | Disagree (5)

In countries where there are lots of motor traffic free paths (separated from pedestrians and with good surfaces) youngsters don't think that cycling is uncool.
George Riches

Agree (10) | Disagree (4)

Did I say that it would take us about 30 years to go back 70 years in evolution? I can understand the youths' resistance to get wet on a bike or look nurdy.
bob craven Lancs

Agree (13) | Disagree (0)

The government should follow medical advice and promote active travel.
Paul Luton , Richmond

Agree (9) | Disagree (0)

A nice piece of peer to peer research that gives unexpected or even unwanted answers. If the youngsters think that cycling is 'different and embarrassing', uncool in other words then the cycle industry and its supporters have got some serious thinking to do.
Duncan MacKillop, Stratford on Avon

Agree (19) | Disagree (4)

Unfortunately we are living in an era where successive govts have geared transport generally to using a multi horsepower mechanical overcoat from front door to wherever you need to go to. There is no doubt the mindset made by this ideology is starting to weaken as more discover cycling as a form of recreation or just getting from A to B. I think the numbers of those currently stating little enthusiasm will decrease in coming years.
Reg Oakley

Agree (10) | Disagree (10)

Does this “lack of enthusiasm” for cycling beg the question: "Should the government do what the people want, or should the people do what the government want?" I suspect there might be little choice anyway before too long!
Dave Finney, Slough

Agree (21) | Disagree (2)