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Build bike lanes fit for everyone, not just the brave, urges Dame Sarah Storey

Multiple Paralympic champion urges national and local governments to provide safe infrastructure to get more women cycling

Dame Sarah Storey has urged national and local governments to “build bike lanes fit for everyone, not just the brave” to encourage more women to take up cycling.

The 14-time Paralympic gold medallist made her appeal as part of British Cycling’s One in a Million campaign which aims to reduce the gender gap in cycling and get 1 million more women cycling by 2020, and will be holding a Question and Answer session on the organisation’s Twitter account between 1pm and 2pm today.

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

“Despite women on average having a shorter commute than men, only a quarter of all cycle commuters are women, so we clearly have a lot of work to do.

“The reasons for this are quite clear: over two thirds of women believe that it is too dangerous for them to cycle on the roads, with most citing driver behavior and inadequate cycle lanes and infrastructure as the main hazards deterring them.

“What these barriers also tell us is that painted, poor quality cycle lanes on the road simply won’t cut it. We have to stop creating cycle lanes that are too narrow, poorly maintained and disconnected from other routes.

“Above all this comes down to the allocation of space, and if we continue to squeeze the space available to people on bikes and foot they are more likely to have a negative experience,” Storey continued.

“If anything, 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.

“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.”

Just 1.9 per cent of people in Great Britain cycle to work at the moment, but Storey believes that efforts by British Cycling and other organisations including Cycling UK and Sustrans that are members of the Walking and Cycling Alliance will bear fruit.

“The success of Sport England’s ‘This Girl Can’ campaign shows that when we make change easy and attractive there are no barriers that we can’t overcome,” she explained.

“Getting more women on bikes for everyday journeys is great for our health, our environment and the places we live and work, but we can only get there with strong leadership and sustained investment.”

Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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7 comments

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PRSboy | 5 years ago
1 like

The simplest, quickest and free win that the authorities could come up with is to get drivers to act safely and considerately around vulnerable road users. 

Courtesy and common sense give instant benefits and cost nothing.

 

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FluffyKittenofT... replied to PRSboy | 5 years ago
5 likes
PRSboy wrote:

The simplest, quickest and free win that the authorities could come up with is to get drivers to act safely and considerately around vulnerable road users. 

Courtesy and common sense give instant benefits and cost nothing.

 

 

Actually they cost a fortune.  Because to achieve them and maintain them - among those who gain no benefit from them, i.e. motorists -  requires intensive policing in perpetuity.  And the police are enduring the effects of austeritity as it is.

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Griff500 replied to PRSboy | 5 years ago
1 like
PRSboy wrote:

The simplest, quickest and free win that the authorities could come up with is to get drivers to act safely and considerately around vulnerable road users. 

Do tell us more! Precisely what is the simple and quick way to implement this? I'm intrigued.

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kil0ran | 5 years ago
8 likes

Things have changed so much in 40 years. Mum used to do her shopping on, well, her Raleigh Shopper and used to wheel me to school on it and ride home. And she has to be the most risk-averse person on the planet. No cycle lanes back then and we lived on a main road. As soon as I could cycle I rode to school - just over a mile to secondary school. 

The main difference? Sheer volume of traffic and bigger cars I would say, less space for everyone. That's certainly evident on the road past my parents' house which is now a 30mph+ rat run with parked cars and blind junctions caused by developers building out to the pavement line and removing front gardens. I'd think twice about cycling on it in rush hour.

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Jem PT replied to kil0ran | 5 years ago
10 likes
kil0ran wrote:

Things have changed so much in 40 years.  

The main difference? Sheer volume of traffic and bigger cars I would say, less space for everyone. 

 

Do you know, I had never thought about this, but I think you're right. Bigger cars = less room on the road = more close passes.

I was taken to school in the back of a (proper!) Mini or Renault 4 or Citroen Dyane. In each car there would be 3 of us in the back, but both cars are miniscule (especially in width) compared to the hulking great SUVs that seem 'essential' for the modern school run.

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HarrogateSpa | 5 years ago
3 likes

Sarah Storey makes the case very well.

This is more on point than the last instalment of the 1 in a million campaign, which I felt concentrated too much on saying to people 'it is safe' - when really if people are too scared to cycle, it's often for good reason.

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brooksby | 5 years ago
8 likes

Seems reasonable laugh

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