British Cycling report shows two thirds of members worry about safety of cycling on the road

Nearly nine in ten cyclists said they are closed passed at least once a week

(Image credit: UIG via Getty Images)

A report by British Cycling shows that two thirds of cyclists are worried about their safety on the road and 87 per cent are close passed at least once a week.

The State of Cycling report investigated the experiences of 15,199 members, finding that 66 per cent were 'concerned about their safety' when riding on Britain's roads.

The degree of concern was fairly uniform across the country, though riders in North East, South West and Yorkshire rated their worries the highest.

The report comes soon after Sport England’s Active Lives report showed a decline in outdoor cycling, and 'spike' in indoor riding.

Close passes, unsafe road surfaces and vehicle speed were the top three hazards encountered by members - with 79 per cent, 68 per cent and 34 per cent highlighting the issues respectively.

Over two thirds - 71 per cent - said that drivers behaved in a way that was hostile towards cyclists, though 72 per cent said they'd seen people riding bikes in a way that put them in danger. Of those questioned, 97 per cent said they held a full UK driving license themselves.

In terms of improving the situation, respondents chose 'a campaign to increase mutual respect between road users' as the most effective avenue to explore, with 68 per cent lending their support to the idea. Traffic free facilities to help people learn to cycle (46 per cent) and ring fenced spending (42 per cent) were other ideas which received support.

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When it comes to commuting to work by bike, 77 per cent said that their employer could be doing more to encourage people to cycle - with showers, safe bike parking facilities and signing up to the Cycle to Work scheme all high on the wish list.

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The report is the largest of its kind carried out by the governing body. It finishes with three key recommendations, to help individuals, businesses and policy makers drive a cultural shift to improve cycling in the country.

These include:

  • A public mutual respect campaign for all road users
  • Ring-fenced funding for cycling and walking in line with levels suggested by the Walking and Cycling Alliance
  • The establishment of a national network of major employers by the Department of Transport to better understand how the Government can help small and large businesses to get more of their employees riding to work

Responding to the findings, British Cycling Policy Adviser Chris Boardman said: “The idea of a turf war between motorists and people on bikes is divisive, unhelpful and only serves to fuel the problem we have on our roads. We know that 90% of our adult members are also drivers, and we are all at some point a pedestrian too.

“We all need to take responsibility for our own actions on the road – whether you’re a cyclist skipping through a red light or a motorist using your phone at the wheel – we need an enforceable commitment to punish people in a way that is proportionate to the danger they pose.”

British Cycling Chief Executive, Julie Harrington, added: “Both the growth in our membership and the response to this survey reflect the evolution of the role which cycling plays in Britain today.

“While we have achieved great things within the sport, our biggest battle lies ahead in the towns, cities and communities we are seeking to help transform, and the support of our members is absolutely vital in helping us to drive that forwards.”

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Michelle Arthurs-Brennan

Michelle Arthurs-Brennan is a traditional journalist by trade, having begun her career working for a local newspaper, where highlights included interviewing a very irate Freddie Star (and an even more irate theatre owner), as well as 'the one about the stolen chickens'.

Previous to joining the Cycling Weekly team, Michelle was Editor at Total Women's Cycling. She joined CW as an 'SEO Analyst', but couldn't keep her nose out of journalism and in the spreadsheets, eventually taking on the role of Tech Editor before her latest appointment as Digital Editor. 

Michelle is a road racer who also enjoys track riding and the occasional time trial, though dabbles in off-road riding too (either on a mountain bike, or a 'gravel bike'). She is passionate about supporting grassroots women's racing and founded the women's road race team 1904rt.