London cyclists: Fifth of riders 'stop bike-commuting'

Cyclists in London The poll said 68% of Londoners did not think the city's roads were safe to cycle on

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One in five cyclists in London say they have stopped cycling to work following the recent deaths on the capital's roads, a poll for BBC London has found.

Com Res polled 1,070 adults, a quarter of whom said they were cyclists.

The poll found 20% of cyclists were involved in a collision. Between 5 November and 18 November, six cyclists were killed on London's roads.

The mayor's cycling commissioner Andrew Gilligan said the poll size was "tiny", but work was under way on safety.

Transport for London (TfL) said cycling was not getting more dangerous in the capital.

TfL's statistics show that from 2008 to 2012, there were 68 cyclist deaths while in the preceding five-year period from 2003 to 2007 the figure was 82.

Using pavements

The number of cyclists in the capital has almost trebled in the past decade.

Olimpo Andrade lost his leg in a collision with a lorry as he cycled to work

But the Com Res poll suggests there is still a perceived risk.

The polling consultancy's research found that following the six deaths in a two-week period:

  • 20% of cyclists said they had stopped cycling to work
  • 63% said they cycled on pavements to avoid dangerous roads and junctions
  • 30% said they have changed their route to work
  • 68% disagreed that London's roads are safe to cycle on

The survey polled 1,070 adults living in London between 19 and 25 November, of which about a quarter identified themselves as cyclists.

Twenty percent of London cyclists told Com Res they had been involved in a collision. That increased to 26% for those who cycled at least once a week.

The poll found 91% of those asked believed the compulsory wearing of helmets would improve safety.

However, among those who cycled at least once a week, the most popular safety proposal was the creation of cycle only routes, supported by 88% of those asked.

Cycling deaths 'tragic'

Seventy-nine per cent of those polled wanted Mayor Boris Johnson to do more to respond to the deaths and serious accidents among cyclists.

TfL has said it is spending £1bn on road improvements.

Last week, an operation also began to raise awareness of road safety among motorists and cyclists with police also handing out fines.

Mr Gilligan has urged caution in interpreting trends from the poll saying the sample size was "manifestly tiny" and added the media's "all-consuming focus" on recent cycle deaths "has contributed to the fear that cyclists and potential cyclists feel".

"We know that fear about safety is a real and major deterrent to cycling and the mayor is doing more than any other politician in the country to address it," he said.

Money was being spent and new staff hired to "improve London's roads for cyclists, something that was happening before this recent tragic spate of deaths".

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