Transport for London research carried out in 2011 established that safety concerns are most likely to be cited as a deterrent to increasing/taking up cycling, with 90% of those surveyed reporting that traffic makes them afraid of cycling on London’s streets. Safety was a deterring factor for 69% of those considering taking up cycling.
We can draw many lessons from countries like the Netherlands, where half of all trips made are by bike, a reflection of the high quality infrastructure provided by their ‘Sustainable Safety’ approach to road design. Years of supportive policy making have led to widespread confidence in and adoption of cycling. Indeed, according to Dr Rachel Aldred, Reader in Transport at the University of Westminster, research shows that Dutch women of 80 are 80 times more likely to cycle than their British counterparts.
To enable cycling, London has moved beyond simply painting blue cycle lanes on busy roads to creating fully segregated cycle superhighways. Today nearly as many trips are made each day in London by cycle as by passengers on Dockland Light Railway and Overground trains added together.
Physical infrastructure isn’t the only consideration however. Adapting cities to cope with increased and safer cycling requires thoughtful planning around local community needs, the business agenda and many other factors. For this reason community-wide liaison is vital, taking the time to hear from all stakeholders can mitigate issues while building ground-up support for cycling.