The State of Cycling report

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Welsh cyclists demand action as almost three quarters say conditions haven't improved in last five years.

Boardman dubs progress ‘shameful’ as survey shows 85% are ‘close passed’ weekly

Almost three quarters (72%) of Welsh cyclists do not believe that conditions have improved in the last five years, while 68% say they are are concerned about their safety when riding on Britain’s roads, according to a new survey from British Cycling.

The State of Cycling survey is the largest-ever analysis of its kind undertaken by the national governing body, and looks at the attitudes and experiences of over 600 British Cycling members who ride a bike across Wales.

Other key findings include:

·    More than eight in ten (85%) cyclists are ‘close passed’ at least once a week.
·    The three most common hazards encountered by people on bikes are close passing (85%), unsafe road surfaces (65%) and vehicle speed (41%).
·    Three quarters (75%) do not believe that cycling is taken seriously by their local authority, while 71% say the same of the Welsh Government.
·    Over three quarters of cyclists (80%) say their employer could do more to encourage people to cycle to work.

Responding to the findings, British Cycling Policy Adviser Chris Boardman said:

“Five years ago I appeared on breakfast television to talk about what would make people on bikes safer, and caused uproar on social media for having the cheek to wear my normal clothes, and not hi-vis and a helmet.

“Despite the evidence repeatedly telling us that it’s sustained investment in better infrastructure that keeps people safe, for 20 years society has continued to tell us that the answer lies in safety equipment. It speaks volumes that 96% of those surveyed do wear a helmet on the road, and yet today's report still reveals the shameful fact that the vast majority don’t feel safe.

“I sincerely hope that this will act as a wake-up call for us, to let evidence lead our decision-making and make bold decisions on funding and investment, rather than simply taking the easy option and telling people to look after themselves.”

The report makes three key recommendations – based on these findings – to help individuals, businesses and policymakers drive a cultural shift in the future state of cycling in this country. These include a public mutual respect campaign for all road users, ring-fenced funding for cycling and walking in line with levels suggested by the Walking and Cycling Alliance, and the establishment of a national network of major employers by the Department of Transport to better understand how the Government can help small and large businesses to get more of their employees riding to work.

Mutual respect between road users emerged as a key theme of the State of Cycling responses. While 71% of respondents agreed that drivers are often hostile towards people on bikes, 68% also said that they often see people on bikes riding in a way which puts themselves in danger.

The impact of this hostility disproportionately impacts women and children: with more than two thirds (67%) of women nationally saying they don’t feel safe when riding on the road, and over three quarters of parents nationally stating they would not be happy to let their children cycle independently on the roads.

Boardman added:

“The idea of a turf war between motorists and people on bikes is divisive, unhelpful and only serves to fuel the problem we have on our roads. We know that 90% of our adult members are also drivers, and we are all at some point a pedestrian too.

“We all need to take responsibility for our own actions on the road – whether you’re a cyclist skipping through a red light or a motorist using your phone at the wheel – we need an enforceable commitment to punish people in a way that is proportionate to the danger they pose.”

With over 15,000 respondents, this was the largest member survey of its type ever undertaken by British Cycling and is published following last week’s announcement that it has now surpassed the 150,000th member milestone – rising from just 15,000 in the space of 20 years.

Welsh Cycling CEO, Anne Adams-King said:

“We fully support the call for a mutual respect campaign. It’s important for all road users to understand and respects each other’s rights. Our charter for our staff and partnerships will be a commitment to create mutual respect on the roads, and that is something that we support here at Welsh Cycling moving forward.

“Having the Active Travel Act in Wales since 2013 has given a focus to walking and cycling and although £60m has been provided by Welsh Government over three years, the figure still needs to be higher to match the £17-20 per head that is required to make an impact, as we have seen walking and cycling rates have remained fairly static.”

Moving forward, although we recognise that we need infrastructure our aim has always been to encourage new people to cycle and to help the 300,000 people already cycling in Wales to enjoy cycling more.”