Two wheels good…?

Hannah ThompsonYouGovLabs and UK Public Opinion Website Editor
July 23, 2012, 12:01 PM UTC

63% Brits say cyclists & motorists equally 'inconsiderate'; 55% say Gov't should promote cycling

Similar percentages of Britons believe that, when it comes to being considerate road users, motorists and cyclists are just as inconsiderate as each other, our poll has found. However, a majority of Britons would label motorists as more 'aggressive' on the road than cyclists – although a quarter finds them equally as aggressive.  

And while over half think the Government should do more to promote cycling, it seems cyclists' behaviour is paramount, with as many as four out of five people supporting tougher penalties on reckless riders than those that have been imposed to date.

  • 62% Britons say that motorists are generally 'inconsiderate' to other road users (35% say they're generally considerate)
  • 63% say cyclists are generally inconsiderate (with 32% saying they're generally considerate)
  • However, 55% believe that motorists are more aggressive on the road than cyclists
  • While 25% say both motorists and cyclists are equally aggressive, and 16% think that cyclists are the more aggressive of the two
  • 79% would support tougher penalties for people cycling badly (e.g. cycling through red lights or cycling on the pavement when not permitted), while 12% oppose tougher penalties for bad cyclists

Cyclists v pedestrians?

When it comes to cyclists and pedestrians as road users, over one third feel the current road arrangement balance is about right, although just under a third thinks that measures to encourage cyclists are too much of an inconvenience for pedestrians.

  • Over half (55%) think the Government should do more to promote cycling, 30% disagree
  • 35% think the current balance between providing for pedestrians and providing for cyclists is about right
  • 31% think measures to help and encourage cyclists are often too much of an inconvenience for pedestrians, and that arrangements should consider people on foot more
  • One in five (20%) thinks more should be done to encourage cycling and make it easier for cyclists, even if this inconveniences pedestrians

Amid growing popularity of cycling in the UK, the London Cycling Campaign recently called for a review of safety and punishment regarding collisions between motorists, cyclists and pedestrians. While our poll shows that most Britons believe cyclists and motorists are equally inconsiderate towards fellow road users (63% said motorists were inconsiderate compared to 62% who said the same for cyclists), there have been reports of cyclists facing harsher penalties for causing accidents than motorists.

For example, in April, a case involving a pedestrian who suffered brain injuries after being hit by a cyclist led to a fine of £850 (plus £930 in additional costs) for the cyclist (near the maximum fine level allowed), whereas a comparative case which saw a careless driver injure a cyclist only resulted in a fine of around £400.

LCC has called for a 20mph limit for all vehicles in the City of London, not only to protect cyclists from fast-moving motor traffic, but also to protect the very high numbers of pedestrians that use City streets.

Encouraging cycling?

Ashok Sinha, chief executive of the London Cycling Campaign, feels that London needs to become more safe and inviting for cyclists, and supports a campaign as promised by London Mayor Boris Johnson to make London more like famously cycling-friendly Holland. The plans, entitled Love London, Go Dutch would involve Transport For London (TFL) putting in place “a concrete, timetabled, durable plan of action to make London's streets as safe and inviting for cycling as they are in Holland".

Sinha has urged the Mayor to undertake a major shakeup of the way space is organised on London roads, including de-prioritising motor traffic in favour of walking and cycling.

As authorities urge Londoners to consider their bikes as an alternative to public transport during this summer's busy Olympic Games period, earlier this year another YouGov poll found that two thirds of Londoners 'never' use this form of transport, and 40% cited concerns over motor traffic safety as the main reason they avoid using their bike to get around the capital.

See the survey details and full results here (page 9-11)