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Are Britain’s Roads Really Too Dangerous for Cycling?

Friday, 15 August 2014

Enthusiasts have dared to hope that the Tour de France passing through the UK would encourage more people to incorporate biking into their daily commute for their personal and environmental health.

However, a recent survey indicates that over half British adults believe their local roads are too dangerous to commute by bike.

Younger British cyclists feel less endangered than older ones, with 45% of 18 to 24 year olds feeling endangered and 61% of those aged 65 and over.

The Cambridge Cycling Campaign cites conditions such as "badly maintained roads" and "narrow cycle lanes" as examples of hazards that endanger cyclists.

But is it all bad news for Britain’s cyclists?

Burying the Benefits of Cycing with Bad News

Overall, cycling offers an array of benefits.

In addition to the health benefits of regular exercise, costs related to petrol and motor vehicle maintenance are greatly reduced even by cycling just a couple of days a week.

Suntrans, a cycling and walking charity, also cites benefits to employers who encourage employees to cycle to work, ranging from employees taking fewer sick days and generally increased profitability. They suggest that employers should support cycling through means such as providing shower facilities and convenient cycle parking.

So there are plenty of positives in the case for cycling.

Overcoming Fear of Personal Injury from Cycling

Even with employer support, cyclists’ fears of personal injury, as well as incurring related legal and medical costs, are not unfounded, and these hazards can keep potential cyclists off the road.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents released a report in 2012 indicating that 3,085 cyclists were seriously injured and 16,023 slightly injured on Britain's roads during 2011. Further, 107 cyclists were killed during the same time frame with 75% of cyclist fatalities occurring near or at a road junction.

The Department for Transport (DfT) has responded by investing in safer roadways for cyclists and "doubled funding for cycling to £374m to help deliver safer junctions".

These measures should be welcomed by cyclists.

Are Britons Inspired by the Tour de France?

Following the Tour de France, approximately one fifth of interviewed Britons reported they were inspired to cycle more, with that number increased to one quarter in Yorkshire and the Humber, where much of the Tour de France excitement took place.

Double Olympic gold-medal cyclist Ed Clancy conveyed his approval with more Britons taking up cycling: "We're really riding the crest of the wave and the more people that get involved in cycling, not just as a sport but for the commute to work or just having a laugh on the mountain bike at the weekend, is good all round".

The DfT further stated its support for creating a better environment for cyclists: "Cycling isn't just great exercise; it has wider benefits for the environment and the economy, which is why we are committed to ensuring more people feel safe enough to use two wheels."

Comment

Clearly there are danger concerns for cyclists on Britain’s roads but there is also great enthusiasm for the benefits it can offer. Whether the roads are in fact too dangerous is a matter of personal perception.

Efforts to make roads safer combined with the excitement generated by sporting events such as the Olympics and the Tour de France means that there is still hope that such fears can overcome.

For specialist legal advice regarding cycling accidents contact Peter Gourri today by email PGourri@rollingsons.co.uk or telephone 0207 611 4848.

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