Being positive about the Cycle to Work
Posted - January 11, 2016
UK-wide figures released this weekend by the transport minister Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon showed the number of cyclists convicted for breaking road rules has more than doubled since 2010. Convictions have risen from 52 to 125 in five years and people are once again questioning whether cyclists should be made to get a licence to ensure they are educated in the laws of the road.
It’s important that we don’t look upon cycling negatively in light of this report. Cycling is now the third most popular sport in England and over two million people across the UK cycle at least once a week. With UK cycling gaining global attention through events like the Tour de France starting in London in 2007 and the UK Olympics in 2012, its popularity is growing and more people are becoming aware of the benefits associated with this form of transport. Recent research by the Cycle to Work Alliance not only showed the real health benefits to cyclists with 46% claiming they were less stressed and 52% stating cycling had helped them lose weight, but also revealed economic benefits to businesses and services. Research by Sustrans shows people who cycle take on average half as many sick days compared to the average UK worker.
While the benefits for cycling outweigh the negatives, this report released by the Government is concerning. However licensing cyclists won’t solve the problem. Instead, we must be mindful that our roads and public transport infrastructures need to develop adequately to successfully cope with the demand of more people cycling. Research suggests most cyclists jump red lights or cycle on pavements not to be reckless, but to protect their own personal safety as they fear they are not visible enough to drivers. Implementing more and better connected cycle lanes in and around cities, ensuring more bike-friendly signalling at lights and increasing the number of waiting areas for cyclists at junctions are just a few ways in which we can increase cyclists’ confidence on the road. These new findings highlight the need to address our cities’ ability to function as the number of cyclists continues to rise, and more must be done to ensure their safety on the roads.