‘Poor quality cycle lanes won’t cut it,’ says Paralympic gold medallist Dame Sarah Storey

The 14-time Paralympic champion says we need to make roads safer

Dame Sarah Storey, Aviva Women's Tour 2015 team presentation (Picture: Andy Jones)
(Image credit: Andy Jones)

Britain’s painted, poor quality cycle lanes won’t cut it if we want more women to cycle, according to Paralympic gold medallist Dame Sarah Storey.

Dame Sarah, a 14-time Paralympic champion, said that safety is the biggest barrier to getting more people on bikes, adding that cycling is currently only for the brave.

Speaking as part of British Cycling's ‘One in a Million’ campaign, a drive to get a million more women on bikes by 2020, the 41-year-old said the UK needs fully segregated cycle networks and lower speed limits to ensure cyclists are safe on the road.

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She said: “We know that there is huge potential for women in particular to make more everyday journeys - especially commuter trips – by bike.

“Painted, poor quality cycle lanes simply won’t cut it. We have to stop creating cycle lanes that are too narrow, poorly maintained and disconnected from other routes.

“If we continue to squeeze the space available to people on bikes and foot, they are more likely to have a negative experience.

“The current provision in many cases makes it even harder for us to enable new people to cycle, and offers very little incentive to those who would otherwise like to make more active travel choices.”

Dame Sarah, the winner of multiple gold medals on the track and road, said that women on average have shorter commutes but only a quarter of all cycle commuters are women.

The reasons for this are because two thirds of women believe cycling on the roads is too dangerous, with most citing driver behaviour and inadequate cycles lanes.

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British Cycling said it is working to improve conditions for people on bikes, by pushing for improved infrastructure, lower speeds limits and revisions to the Highway Code.

Dame Sarah added: “If we are to truly make people on bikes feel safer and reduce the potential for conflict between road users, we need high-quality, fully segregated routes in all towns and cities, built to clear and consistent design standards, and properly enforced 20mph speed limits on quieter streets.

“Anything less than this and cycling will continue to be confined to the brave.”

British Cycling launched ‘One in a Million’ on January 29, with the aim of getting more women on bikes by tackling perceptions around safety and routes.

The campaign is fronted by Laura Kenny, Lizzie Deignan, Sir Chris Hoy, Elinor Barker and Joanna Rowsell Shand.

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Alex Ballinger
Alex Ballinger

Alex Ballinger is editor of BikeBiz magazine, the leading publication for the UK cycle industry, and is the former digital news editor for CyclingWeekly.com. After gaining experience in local newsrooms, national newspapers and in digital journalism, Alex found his calling in cycling, first as a reporter, then as news editor responsible for Cycling Weekly's online news output, and now as the editor of BikeBiz. Since pro cycling first captured his heart during the 2010 Tour de France (specifically the Contador-Schleck battle) Alex covered three Tours de France, multiple editions of the Tour of Britain, and the World Championships, while both writing and video presenting for Cycling Weekly. He also specialises in fitness writing, often throwing himself into the deep end to help readers improve their own power numbers.  Away from the desk, Alex can be found racing time trials, riding BMX and mountain bikes, or exploring off-road on his gravel bike. He’s also an avid gamer, and can usually be found buried in an eclectic selection of books.