Sexual harassment of female cyclists investigated by new study from Transport for London

London transport's governing body looking into what deters women from cycling in the capital

Women cycling in London
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The sexual harassment experienced by female cyclists' in London is to be investigated by a new study commissioned by Transport for London (TfL).

Announced in TfL's annual commissioner's report, the study will seek to understand the experience of sexual harassment by women on bikes, as part of the body's broader Ending Violence Against Women and Girls Programme.

TfL's commissioner, Andy Lord, wrote: "It is vital that we listen to women and girls and their views to our approach and decision making, and we have commissioned two pieces of in-depth research. The large study will provide information on how women and girls perceive their safety on public transport...

"We have also commissioned a smaller study to understand female cyclists’ personal experiences of sexual harassment. This research will be used to inform our ongoing approach and interventions for tackling violence against women and girls, and work towards improving their confidence to travel."

The London Cycling Campaign said that harassment of women cycling, including sexual harassment, was “surprisingly common” in the capital. It is due to publish the results of its own research in January.

LCC's Clare Rogers told the Evening Standard: “In a city where less than a third of cycle trips are by women, we are calling on the mayor to tackle the barriers that keep women from feeling safe to ride a bike.

“We hear far too many stories of women being harassed and intimidated while they cycle in London, verbally, physically and sometimes even sexually. Often this abuse is for no other reason than they are cycling on the road.

“Also, many women tell us they still don’t have the safe cycle routes they need to get from A to B, with too many routes being unsuitable after dark.”

Almost 2,000 people have signed an LCC petition which calls for safe cycling for women in London: "We want to see riding a bike made safe, easy and convenient for women of all ages, backgrounds and abilities, across the whole city."

The petition reads: "The bicycle has played a significant role in liberating women in the past, and cycling could be liberating for women in London today, offering us independence, health, and affordable, climate-safe transport. But it can only do that in the right environment.

"Therefore we are calling on the Mayor [Sadiq Khan] to make London a city where any woman can cycle safely."

The TfL commissioner's report makes a big deal of the body's work on cycling.

"The past two decades have seen huge growth in the number of people cycling in the capital, with a 155 per cent increase in the number of daily cycle journeys since 2000," Lord wrote. "This includes a 13 per cent increase in daily cycle journeys between 2019 and 2022, despite Londoners making fewer trips across all transport modes in 2022 than in 2019. 

"Working with London boroughs, we have more than tripled the size of the Londonwide strategic cycle network, from 90km in 2016 to more than 350km in 2023, meaning that more than one in five Londoners now lives near the Cycleway network. 

"We have completed 38.36km of new or upgraded cycle infrastructure since April 2022 and a further 12.66km is currently under construction."

10 most dangerous junctions for cyclists in London  revealed

The LCC has also published a list of the 10 worst junctions for cyclists in London, which was calculated using five years of collision data. On Tuesday, it called on the Mayor, Transport for London and London councils to "move faster, be bolder and fix these dangerous junctions to avoid needless, predictable deaths". 

The ten, from most dangerous to least dangerous, are:

- Upper Tooting Road

- Lambeth Road/Kennington Road

- Wandsworth Road/North Street

- Mitchman Road/Leighton Street

- Finsbury Park/Blackstock Road

- Holborn (Station)

- Holborn (Theobalds Road)

- Queen's Circus

- Shoreditch Triangle

- Knightsbridge

Tom Fyans, chief executive of London Cycling Campaign, said: “Behind this horrific data are hundreds of stories of families torn apart by tragedy and lives changed forever.

“Whilst cycling and indeed walking and wheeling remain relatively safe… TfL, the mayor and our boroughs must move faster and be bolder on road danger to stem the human cost posed by dangerous junctions and poor road designs.”

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