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Has Tour de France made Yorkshire drivers more considerate?

It has, says survey by, er, local car dealership

Do big cycling events like the Tour de France have a positive effect on drivers’ perception of everyday cyclists? It’s an idea campaigners are often sceptical about, but a survey from a Yorkshire car dealer has found that 73 percent of drivers says they drive more carefully around cyclists because of the publicity around the Tour.

In the survey of 2,100 drivers and cyclists conducted for, a whopping 90 percent of drivers said they were more aware of cyclists thanks to the Tour, which kicks off in Leeds on July 5.

Drivers say the build-up to the two days of racing has made them consider cyclists as equal road users to motor vehicles, and some are even thinking of buying a bike themselves.

Yorkshire cyclists have noticed a difference too, with many saying that they’ve noticed greater courtesy and patience on roads around Yorkshire.

“Le Tour has really caught the local imagination,” said company spokesman Robin Appleyard, “and it’s pleasing to hear that drivers have shifted their attitudes to bicycle users for the better.”

According to the research:

90% of Yorkshire drivers say they’re more aware of cyclists thanks to Le Tour
73% said they now drive more carefully around cyclists
59% of drivers admitted they had driven discourteously around cyclists in the last two years
10% of drivers say the Tour de France has made them consider buying a bike

And it's not just drivers saying they've mended their ways:

65% of cyclists say they’ve noticed a greater courtesy toward them in the last month
88% of cyclists said they had been the victim of bad driving in the last two years

Appleyard says the survey shows encouraging signs that public attitudes to cyclists are changing thanks to the publicity surrounding July’s Grand Départ and the two major stages between Leeds and Harrogate and York to Sheffield.

He said: “For one, it’s doing away with the erroneous assumption of ‘At least I pay my road tax’.”

As followers of the ‘road tax’ wars in social media will know, Vehicle Excise Duty is calculated on a vehicle’s emissions, so as Appleyard points out: “As a zero emission vehicle the cyclist pays the same duty as an electric-powered car like the Nissan Leaf.”

Appleyard also said there’s a significant crossover between both modes of transport: “Most cyclists are car users as well. They know what it’s like both in the saddle and behind the wheel, and lead by example for other drivers.”

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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Andy G | 9 years ago

Having ridden the route of Stage 2 yesterday if that was an improvement I'm glad I hadn't ridden over that side before. Some drivers gave plenty of space and to those I'm very grateful but most on the A59 just barged through with just about no variation in their road positioning or speed. I was glad to eventually get off that road and away from the Vale of York. The driving in York was pretty poor for a city that has been pushing cycling for so long.

andyp | 9 years ago

Epic fail. Yorkshire folk change their minds about *anything*?? Not going to happen.

mikeprytherch | 9 years ago

NO.... enough said.

ChairRDRF | 9 years ago

With the likes of the South Yorkshire Road Safety Partnership addressing issues of safety on the road you can expect little in the way of progress

s_lim | 9 years ago

We've had the Giro for 3 days this year, but I've certainly not noticed much attitude change in drivers; same old, same old, sadly. However, the upshot is there are more people riding on the roads now, which can only serve to change attitudes.

Das | 9 years ago

TBH, and I dont know if this is just luck, but this year ive found that the standards of driving around cyclist(or rather around myself) have improved. Still getting the odd moron but as a whole im finding more people passing correctly, slowing down better, not cutting out etc. I have also started giving people who are courteous towards me a wee wave of acknowledgement, every little helps imo.

WolfieSmith | 9 years ago

Good. Maybe Audi dealers in Lancashire can put up a sign saying the TDF is here next year...

CXR94Di2 | 9 years ago

I was cycling around Otley and the Chevin a few weeks back, by the close passes that were made on me, then no they aren't safety conscious. There is so much traffic in the Leeds district that even smaller country lanes are quite busy. I tend to stay clear of main routes unless they are very wide. I always ride with my cats eye rear light flashing.

gazza_d | 9 years ago

A bit further north in Tyneside/Durham, but from a personal perspective, overall more drivers do seem to be more considerate to people on bikes.

I have definitely noticed more of them waving me across crossing points, and even roundabouts when they've priority.

Yea there are still plenty of idiots, and I think the close passes are often closer, but there are fewer of them.

I think a lot of the TdF coverage up here has helped, as has the national publicity surrounding cyclist deaths especially in London.

There seems to be more people on bikes than a year ago as well, and possibly some of the messages that one more person on a bike is one less car in a queue is also starting to sink in.

Also I could just have been necking too much chain lube  1

Gourmet Shot | 9 years ago

Nope....Leeds is an anti-cycling city...end of.

I am seriously waiting for the backlash when they start to close down Leeds city centre roads...

Leodis | 9 years ago

Judging by my commutes this week I very much doubt it, if anything it seems worse.

SHFbikebloke | 9 years ago

Do you believe you behave better when I ask you these questions? What a silly survey.
Road collision stats will tell a story. And read the posts of the Leeds Cycle Campaign or CycleSheffield.
Shame that taxi and bus drivers were not surveyed; better still, monitored!

HarrogateSpa | 9 years ago

Ok, but:

1. This is all subjective, it doesn't measure driving standards
2. I was thinking there might be a Tour de France effect, but I've also had some pieces of awful driving, so it's difficult to be sure
3. I'm amazed it's only 88% of cyclists who say they've been the victim of bad driving in 2 years
4. Will it last beyond the Tour de France?
5. Good publicity for Appleyards

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