A lot of adults in Britain want to cycle more but traffic fears are almost certainly holding them back, a university study has found.
Researchers at the University of the West of England in Bristol who conducted a four-year investigation into British adults’ attitudes to cycling found that 33 per cent of those quizzed in 2010 said they were thinking of cycling for short journeys and 18 per cent had made plans to take it up, but by last year 34 per cent of them said they weren’t confident enough to consider it, with new cyclists wanting to be protected from vehicles.
Seventy two per cent of the respondents in 2013 said cycling was good for the environment and 65 per cent backed a funding rise to support more cycling for everyday journeys.
In addition, 68 per cent believed that cyclists should be taken seriously, while 50 per cent thought they were brave.
But certain elements of the media aren’t helping the cycling cause, with 37 per cent of respondents agreeing that TV motoring shows were too negative about cycling. Top Gear, in particular, came in for criticism for a recent item in which the BBC One show made jokes at the expense of cyclists – at one point likening injured cyclists to a smashed bag of vegetables.
Professor Alan Tapp, of the university, said: “Our data is clear that anti-cycling media rhetoric does not represent the views of the majority. A majority of adults in Great Britain support cycling and want to see more money spent on it.
"Moreover, people recognise the environmental and congestion-reducing potential of cycling, and many people would cycle more themselves – if only they felt more confident to do so.
“This is more evidence to back up the key recommendation of last year's All-Party Parliamentary Cycling Group: the government must meet the urgent need for a safer cycling environment by investing in cycleways. At the moment, enormous budgets are allocated to road- building without any opposition, and yet much more modest recommendations for cycling are prevented from happening. This surely needs to change.”
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(Some 4,000 British adults took part in the surveys)