Most London cyclists don't run red lights – but many do

William JordanUS Elections Editor
November 21, 2013, 9:55 AM GMT+0

While a majority of London cyclists always stop at red lights, one third admit they at least occasionally ignore them

A recent spate of cycling deaths in London that saw six cyclists killed in 13 days has ignited a debate over what can be done to prevent future accidents. London Mayor Boris Johnson, who oversaw the roll-out of the ‘Boris bike’ hiring scheme, has been called upon to defend cycling safety in the city.

New YouGov research investigating the views of Londoners about cycling in the capital finds that they tend to be even-handed about responsibility for accidents and paths to reform. But the greatest agreement comes over the need to clamp down on cyclists who ignore red lights, something a sizeable proportion of London’s cyclist admit doing.

Overall, cyclists currently make up only about a quarter (24%) of London’s population, with fewer than half of those who cycle doing so more than once a week.

And on road accidents, there are some wide gaps in opinion between the 24% who cycle and those who don’t: whereas 34% of cyclists think drivers of motor vehicles are more usually to blame for collisions with cyclists, only 14% of non-cyclists feel the same. Non-cyclists, on the other hand, are much more likely to blame both equally, as half (50%) do.

When it comes to running red lights, a majority (53%) of London cyclists avoid the practice altogether. But a significant group – 35% – admit that they at least ‘occasionally’ ignore red lights at traffic lights.

Boris Johnson has come under fire for appearing to place blame on cyclists involved in accidents, singling out those who he says 'put their lives in danger' by running red lights or wearing headphones. While he prefaced his remarks by saying he was not ‘blaming the victim’, many cyclists, campaigners and politicians have said the mayor did just just that.


Cyclists and non-cyclists are more or less unified in calling for stricter enforcement of the law on red lights.

Nearly nine in ten Londoners (87%), including almost three-quarters (72%) of cyclists, agree police ‘should prosecute far more cyclists who ignore red lights’.

Most Londoners also endorse a number of other measures aimed at making roads safer for cyclists, including introducing more cycle lanes – even at the expense of road space for motor vehicles – and banning cyclists from busy roads at rush hour. A majority also support requiring employers ‘by law’ to provide secure places where employees can leave their bikes.

The survey also found that London cyclists with experience of ‘Boris bikes’ tend to like them. Of the 42% of cyclists who have ridden a Boris bike, nearly four in five (79%) were satisfied with the system.

In August a nationwide YouGov survey found that, while 60% of British people never ride a bike, 69% want the government to do more to encourage cycling.

Image: Getty

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