Two thirds of people still see cycling as too dangerous despite government ambitions

Government plans include an increase in cycling and walking - but people are still too scared to take to two wheels

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Two thirds of the public regard cycling as dangerous, despite government ambitions to increase the number of people replacing short journeys with bike rides.

The 2019 National Travel Attitudes Study (NTAS) shows that 61 per cent of people surveyed see cycling as being 'too dangerous'.

Exactly the same number of people agreed with the statement 'cycling is too dangerous' in 2011.

The number of people who disagree with the statement, believing that cycling is not an overly risky method of transport, has fallen from 23 per cent to 19 per cent.

The government's walking and cycling strategy states that it wants these currently underused modes of transport to be the 'natural choice' for shorter journeys by 2040, but progress is currently going in the wrong direction.

The percentage of people who say they'd swap the car for a bike when completing a journey less than two miles has fallen: from 44 per cent in 2006 to 36 per cent in 2019.

Multiple surveys have shown that close passes are one of the biggest deterrents from cycling, alongside sharing the road with lorries and poor road surface.

A recent British Cycling survey of its members showed that a similar number - 66 per cent - felt concerned for their safety whilst cycling on the road, and 79 per cent regarded close passes as one  of the major hazards.

Despite this, the NTAS  - which was based on 1,384 respondents - showed that 95 per cent of people questioned believe that drivers should give space for cyclists, with just two per cent disagreeing.

In June last year, the government unveiled plans to spend £50,000 training driving instructors to incorporate cycling safety into their lessons for learners.

It also said it was providing resources to police forces, to help support them in ensuring drivers understand the correct passing distance and obey it.

Another factor reportedly making cyclists feel unsafe is poor road surface - with 68 per cent of British Cycling's surveyed members citing it as an issue.

Yet last year, Cycling UK highlighted that government spend on minor roads, commonly used by cyclists, had fallen by 40 per cent.

Potholes on minor roads, it said, cost the economy £2 billion a year - with the average cyclists claim costing £11,000 - as opposed to £841 for motorists.

Michelle Arthurs-Brennan
Michelle Arthurs-Brennan

Michelle Arthurs-Brennan is Cycling Weekly's Tech Editor, and is responsible for managing the tech news and reviews both on the website and in Cycling Weekly magazine.

A traditional journalist by trade, Arthurs-Brennan began her career working for a local newspaper, before spending a few years at Evans Cycles, then combining writing and her love of bicycles first at Total Women's Cycling and then Cycling Weekly. 

When not typing up reviews, news, and interviews Arthurs-Brennan 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 190rt.

She rides bikes of all kinds, but favourites include a custom carbon Werking road bike as well as the Specialized Tarmac SL6. 

Height: 166cm

Weight: 56kg

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