Traffic survey shows cyclists are worried about busy roads

A report published by the Department for Transport shows a fall in journeys made by bike and suggests that cyclists are worried about their safety because of the volume of traffic on the roads.

The report was based on the results of two surveys carried out across England. It showed that, whilst people were making an average of 18 journeys by bike per year in 2014, that number had dropped to 15 journeys in 2016 – although the distance those cyclists were travelling had increased.

It’s a worrying trend for promoters of cycling as an alternative to cars, and also for local and national government, which wants to encourage more journeys by bike. In 2017, the government published a cycling and walking investment strategy, but pressure groups say that the strategy is underfunded, with all but the largest cities failing to spend enough on safe lanes or spaces for cyclists and pedestrians.

Why are people worried about cycling?

Cycling on the roads can be a dangerous business, particularly on roads where no cycle lanes exist, or where the roads are not well-maintained. Cyclists often find their path is littered with potholes, drain covers and poorly-kept kerbs, making it difficult to ride safely. Greater driver education is also necessary, say cycling groups, so that drivers do take the time to slow down, overtake safely and give cyclists space.

The figures showed that women are more likely than men to be put off by the state of the roads or the possible dangers of busy traffic, but that most groups would get out on the bike more if they felt safer. This is a clear guide to legislators, and the government is expected to announce a review of cycling safety later this year, which may include whether to make it a legal requirement to wear a cycle helmet.

The places where cycling is most successful are those places where cycle lanes are wide enough and well-maintained; where there is plenty of signage, and where cyclists are taken off the roads at particularly busy or dangerous places and put on a footpath cycleway instead. These are expensive retro-fit things to put in place but, with the proper data and the right planning, it should be possible to cater safely for cyclists and pedestrians where new routes are being planned.

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