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Safety fears deter kids and teens from cycling, survey finds

"Concerns are understandable and must be addressed" says road safety charity Brake...

Concerns about the danger from traffic are often cited as the reason adults are reluctant to cycle. Road safety charity Brake says that safety concerns deter children and teenagers from cycling too — and their parents from letting them.

Brake surveyed 1,301 11-17 year olds in secondary schools and colleges across the UK, finding almost half (47%) said parental worries were preventing them from starting cycling or cycling more.

Brake also found:

  • Two in five (38%) 11-17 year olds cite a lack of safe routes as a barrier to cycling
  • Four in ten (41%) think traffic in their area is too fast for the safety of people on foot and bike
  • Nearly four in ten (37%) think their area needs more pavements, paths and cycle paths

In 2013, 186 12-15 year olds were killed or seriously injured while cycling. Brake says that parents' and children's "concerns are understandable and must be addressed".

Brake is calling on the Government to ensure that the cycling and walking investment provision of the Infrastructure Bill is implemented. The charity says that a long term commitment to investing in more segregated routes to improve the safety – and perceived safety – of walking and cycling is critical.

Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive, Brake, said: “All parents want their children to be healthy and happy, and many would love to see them walking and cycling more to achieve that.

"Young people want this too: it’s crucial to their health, wellbeing, and social and economic lives that they can get around easily and cheaply. That so many teenagers are being held back from walking and cycling by safety fears, in spite of its great benefits, is a shocking indictment of our road infrastructure.

"With the car as king in transport planning, walkers and cyclists have been for too long treated as second-class citizens. The safety of people on foot and bike is hugely important, as is enabling more people to make sustainable, active travel choices without fear of traffic danger.

"It is vital that the government builds this into long term transport planning, through the Infrastructure Bill, investment in safe walking and cycling routes, and making 20mph limits the norm in towns, cities and villages.”

Cycling Minister Robert Goodwill told the BBC his department's "record £374m investment in cycling will help keep young cyclists safe".

He said: "By March 2015, 1.6m children will have received cycle training through the Bikeability scheme.

"We have also made it easier for local authorities to introduce 20mph zones which are designed to help increase safety as cycling becomes an increasingly popular transport option in Britain."

John has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.

He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.

Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for Along with founder Tony Farrelly, John was on the launch team for and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.

John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.

He joined in 2013. He lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

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