The British cycling team at the 2012 Olympics won twelve medals, eight of them gold. The legacy of that outstanding achievement is evident today in the increasing number of cyclists on our roads. This weekend the Tour de France starts in Yorkshire.
Cycling, it seems, is riding on the crest of a wave, but apparently it has unseen dangers lurking beneath, because half of British adults believe their local roads are too dangerous to cycle on, according to a BBC poll.
Olympic medallist and British Cycling policy adviser Chris Boardman said: “People don’t feel safe when riding their bikes on our roads,” adding that a commitment was needed from government and local authorities to “prioritise the safety and needs of cyclists in all future transport schemes.”
My team at Neil Hudgell Solicitors deals with a range of personal injury claims by cyclists, predominantly due to poorly maintained roads or negligent motorists.
A DfT spokesman said: “Cycling isn’t just great exercise, it has wider benefits for the environment and the economy, which is why we are committed to ensuring more people feel safe enough to use two wheels.”
At Neil Hudgell Solicitors we place a lot of emphasis staff wellbeing, and colleagues are encouraged to walk or cycle to work whenever possible.
Claire Francis, Head of Policy for the walking and cycling charity Sustrans, said: “Employers who encourage cycling can increase their profitability and have employees who take fewer sick days. Cycle parking and showers in an office should be as common as a printer and a coffee machine.”
Claire added: “But we also need the government to deliver better infrastructure and slower speeds on our roads, so that people feel safe to leave home on their bikes.”
The Department for Transport said it had “doubled funding for cycling to £374m to help deliver safer junctions”.
Martin Lucas-Smith, from the Cambridge Cycling Campaign said “things like narrow cycle lanes” and “badly maintained roads” led to cyclists feeling unsafe in many UK places. “We’d like to see proper allocation of space on these roads which can almost always be achieved simply by a bit of redesign, so people can cycle safely and easily.”
Double Olympic gold-medal cyclist Ed Clancy said: “The more people that get involved in cycling, not just as a sport but for the commute to work or just having a laugh on the mountain bike at the weekend, is good all round.”
So, the message is: on yer bike, but take care!