Road Safety News

Safety fears holding back potential cycle commuters

Friday 4th March 2016

Two recently published surveys highlight a fear of injury as a deterrent to potential commuter cyclists - and strong support among the public for better cycling infrastructure.

The first YouGov survey, published on 25 February, sampled the opinions of 1,143 employees of whom just 9% currently cycle to work.

The surveys suggests that more than a quarter (26%) of British commuters don’t cycle to work because of fears of being involved in a collision.  

Of the 87% who choose not to cycle, the fear of an accident was the second most common reason, after distance.

16% said there aren't enough cycle lanes on their route to work, 10% said their workplace didn’t offer anywhere to store a bicycle, while 8% said it was too expensive to take up cycling.

Of those who did cycle to work, 18% said there is a good cycle route (including cycle lanes) while 9% said their employer offered an incentive to cycle.

A separate YouGov poll for British Cycling published yesterday (3 March) suggests an ‘overwhelming public support for new cycling infrastructure’.

71% of respondents supported building cycle tracks on main roads, with 11% unsure and just 18% opposed.

British Cycling says  support is ‘consistently strong across social grades, genders, age groups and political preferences’, and remains above 70% even when respondents were asked to consider a potential delay to their existing commute while the cycling infrastructure was built.

Chris Boardman, British Cycling’s policy advisor, said: “This YouGov poll shows us, yet again, that the vast majority of the public want to see more cycle tracks on main roads.

“This is what people are telling their democratically elected leaders they want; meaningful resource to deliver segregated infrastructure on an ambitious scale to unlock the benefits cycling can offer our society.

“If this kind of evidence isn’t enough to give politicians and transport authorities the confidence to act, I don’t know what is.”


Comment on this story
Report a reader comment

What's your view - comment on this story:

I confirm that I have read and accept the moderation policy and house rules relating to comments posted on this website.
Your comment:
Your name and location:
Your email:

It was the choice of photo with respect to the headline I was commenting on, rather than taking it as a universal depiction of cyclists' attitudes generally. I genuinely wondered whether the choice of photo was deliberate, tinged with a trace of irony - perhaps RSGB's way of highlighting that surveys can be just a little bit sensationalist sometimes.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (0) | Disagree (1)

There appears to be ten people who agree with Hugh's comment based on what I can only "assume" are assumptions about how representative the one person in the photograph is of cycling behaviours? Many people are trying to shift Road Safety work to evidence led methods and to try to make assumptions based on a photograph is departing from that approach? Put simply - one person riding in a suit and no helmet does not mean that other people should cycle in the same manner. They have to feel comfortable to cycle and by carrying out an independent survey into what barriers there are is perhaps the first step to potentially overcoming or even removing those barriers? Or am I having a sense of humour failure (again)?
Nick, Lancashire

Agree (1) | Disagree (0)

R.Craven - The survey was conduced by YouGov, an independent research agency. They ask questions of a representative panel of the British public. A specific company may pay for their services but they insist on a non-biased approach and will not allow the use of leading questions.

You are right to point out, however, that there are some organisations who post surveys on their own websites and then publicise their results as if they are from a representative sample. Fortunately the above article is not one of those examples.
Christina, Birmingham

Agree (2) | Disagree (3)

Philippa - the public want lots of things, but no one asked how much more tax people are prepared to pay and where cycling lies in their priorities. In fact cycling never registers anywhere in surveys of the most important issues to voters. The economy depends on motorised transport, not cycling. I agree with you about HS2 - there is no case of any kind in favour of it - so if we saved the £80 billion plus that is going to be wasted on it, that would fund all manner of projects and essential services that are currently under-funded, including better cycling facilities, if that is what most people really want, given that 95% plus will never use it.
Paul Biggs, Staffordshire

Agree (7) | Disagree (1)

Totally agree with Chris Boardman's comments that he doesn't understand what we're waiting for. The Government alleges that it wants to see Britain become a world-class cycling nation. The public says it wants more and better cycling infrastructure and investment in it. Big business says it wants the same thing. Yet in the Autumn Spending Review the Chancellor committed £61bn to transport over the next 5 years with - in comparison - a paltry £300m to cycling infrastructure over the same period ( It's pathetic that they're saying one thing about wanting Britain to become a world-class cycling nation whilst heavily funding motorised vehicles and one railway line and throwing the tiniest of the crumbs at cycling which could save Britain £billions with cleaner air and a healthier public. So I think what we're waiting for, Chris Boardman, is the Government to stand by its own declarations about cycling.
Philippa Robb, Shepherd's Bush, London

Agree (2) | Disagree (6)

"Safety fears holding back potential cycle commuters" says the headline, accompanied by a photo showing a healthy number of cycle commuters, one of whom apparently feels comfortable and safe enough to ride amongst traffic in a suit and no helmet.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (11) | Disagree (0)

I question that as it was sponsored and supported by the cycling fraternity what website it was on, I know that I didn't see it. Did it go out to the general public or only to persons who have an interest in seeing its greater development? If it was interested parties only or mainly, then it's no surprise about the overwhelming support for cycling that ensued.
R.Craven Blackpool

Agree (11) | Disagree (3)

Another survey. If people are asked to give 'tick box' reasons for why they don't want to cycle, or don't cycle, then what answers would be expected? The fact is that, even if these solicited concerns are addressed, 99% of people still won't cycle. For the vast majority of people a bicyle is no substitute for a private or public transport vehicle in terms of comfort, convenience, practicality or safety.
Paul Biggs, Staffordshire

Agree (14) | Disagree (6)