Over half of Britons think roads are too dangerous, and only 33% ride a bike

Only a small proportion of people ever ride a bike
Statistics published from the 2012 British Social Attitudes survey show that the public is very concerned about cycle safety, and only a third ever ride a bike.

The British Social Attitudes survey is a useful barometer of attitudes, showing a gradual growth of scepticism over climate change, and a declining lack of concern over pollution, congestion or road building over the last 7 years.

Respondents remain supportive of 20 mph speed limits (72% approve) and fairly enthusiastic about speed bumps (51% in favour, 30% against).

What does it tell us about cycling?

There has been a small - but statistically insignificant - change in the reported levels of cycling, with 33% of people saying they cycle at all (up from 30% in 2011). 

  • 4% say they cycle everyday (approximately the same as the commuting figure)
  • 6% say they cycle 2-5 times a day (up from 4% in 2011)
  • 5% say they cycle once a week
  • 18% say they cycle either once a month or even less often

The fact that the vast majority of people never ride a bike makes building political support for cycling much harder, and helps fuel an 'us' and 'them' culture on the roads. Despite this, drivers are more likely to be cyclists (36%) than non-drivers (23%). 

These figures reveal how concerned people are about how safe cycling is. Only a pitifully small number - just a third - report that they ever ride a bike. But it is also clear that if local authorities and Government can make conditions safer, many more people would jump out of their cars and onto their bikes.

Chris Peck
CTC Policy Coordinator

On the issue of perceived safety, 59% of people agree or strongly agree that "it is too dangerous for me to cycle on the roads."

Women (66%) and people aged 65+ (73%) were also more likely to agree than men (53%) and 18-24 year-olds (43%).

Despite these concerns, 39% of people believed that the short trips they currently make by car could, just as easily, be made by bike. 

This shows the depth of the latent demand for cycling if local authorities and Government can overcome concerns about the danger on the road. People clearly want to ride bikes, but think it is far too dangerous at present. Changing this will require investment in safer conditions, better enforcement of traffic law and lower speeds, particularly the obviously popular 20 mph speed limit.

A copy of the 2012 British Social Attitudes report can be downloaded below.