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More than half of motorists single out drivers as biggest threat to cyclists' safety, says The Times

Newspaper publishes results of survey as it continues its Cities Fit For Cycling Campaign

The Times newspaper has published survey results suggesting that more than half of motorists, 55 per cent, believe that the single biggest improvement to the safety of cyclists would arise from a change in the behaviour of drivers around bike riders, rather than any actions that cyclists themselves could take.

The poll, conducted by Populus at the weekend among an online sample of 2,050 drivers, also found that nearly two in three motorists – 63 per cent – believe that the needs of cyclists should be given equal emphasis as those of drivers when it comes to designing junctions, and that they view motorists cutting up cyclists as the greatest danger to those riding bikes on the road.

Around half of cyclists and motorists – respectively, 47 per cent and 51 per cent, among a total response rate of 52 per cent – see segregated cycle lanes as providing a solution to the issue of the safety of cyclists on the road, as the newspaper continues its Cities Fit For Cycling campaign, launched nearly a fortnight ago.

The survey also analysed frequency of riding among cyclists. Among all respondents, 42 per cent said that they ride a bike at least once a year. Of those, 5 per cent do so every day, 6 per cent most days, and 5 per cent once a week. A similar proportion cycle less frequently, but at least once a month, while the remaining 21 per cent ride at least once a year.

In terms of motoring habits, three in four people – 76 per cent – get behind the wheel at least once a year, with two in three – 68 per cent – claiming to do so “frequently.”

The greatest dangers on the road were highlighted as motorists veering into the path of cyclists at 50 per cent, followed by ‘aggression and animosity between road users” at 45 per cent and the speed of vehicles in residential areas, with 38 per cent agreeing.

Lower response rates were seen for “the dangerous behaviour of other cyclists” – 18 per cent – with 13 per cent attributing the cause of danger to the actions of pedestrians.

Besides segregated cycle lanes, compulsory cycling proficiency tests were viewed by 29 per cent of all respondents as the next most important step that could be taken to improving cyclists’ safety, although among bike riders themselves, the second highest response was “to improve the behaviour of cyclists on the road.”

According to the survey, four in ten bike riders claim that improvements to cycling infrastructure aimed at improving their safety should be funded by a tax on cyclists themselves, a finding that is bound to provoke debate, especially given the widespread misconception that motorists pay for roads through ‘road tax,’ abolished in the 1930s, not to mention that regular cyclists are more likely than average to own a car, and therefore pay Vehicle Excise Duty, than the population as a whole.

Nevertheless, slightly more motorists – 44 per cent – agree with that sentiment, although taking the views of all respondents into account, opinion is split down the middle, with 49 per cent saying that funding should be provided out of general taxation, and 51 per cent saying that cyclists should be taxed for wanting to ride their bikes on the road.

Nearly four in ten drivers – 37 per cent – believe that “roads are primarily for driving on, and should take priority over cycling when designing road users,” adds The Times, while almost half of motorists – 45 per cent – are of the opinion to the greatest step towards increasing the safety of cyclists lies in riders themselves improving their behaviour on the road.

Simon joined 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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