Roads 'too dangerous' for cyclists BBC poll suggests

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image captionOnly a third of Britons agreed roads in their local area were designed to be safe for cyclists

Half of British adults believe their local roads are too dangerous to cycle on, a BBC poll has suggested.

The Tour de France, the world's biggest annual sporting event, starts in Leeds on Saturday and will take in Harrogate, York, Sheffield, Cambridge and London.

But cycling campaigner Martin Lucas-Smith said "people felt unsafe to cycle" in many UK places.

The Department for Transport (DfT) said it had "doubled funding for cycling to £374m to help deliver safer junctions".

Mr Lucas-Smith from the Cambridge Cycling Campaign, added "things like narrow cycle lanes" and "badly maintained roads" led to cyclists feeling unsafe.

"We'd like to see proper allocation of space on these roads which can almost always be achieved simply by a bit of redesign, so people can cycle safely and easily."

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image caption"Cycling is more popular than ever before" said Olympian Chris Boardman

The poll showed older Britons were more likely than their younger counterparts to believe the roads were too dangerous: 61% of those aged 65 and over, compared to 45% of 18 to 24 year olds.

Chris Boardman, Olympic medallist and British Cycling policy adviser, said: "It's clear...people don't feel safe when riding their bikes on our roads.

"In order to rectify this we need a clear commitment from government and local authorities to prioritise the safety and needs of cyclists in all future transport schemes."

The DfT spokesman added: "Cycling isn't just great exercise, it has wider benefits for the environment and the economy, which is why we are committed to ensuring more people feel safe enough to use two wheels."

The research of 3,012 British adults also showed 55% of people questioned said they felt employers failed to encourage cycling to work.

Claire Francis, head of policy for the walking and cycling charity Sustrans, said: "Employers who encourage cycling can increase their profitability and have employees who take fewer sick days but without decent facilities and support, many businesses miss out on these benefits.

"Cycle parking and showers in an office should be as common as a printer and a coffee machine.

"But we also need the government to deliver better infrastructure and slower speeds on our roads, so that people feel safe to leave home on their bike."

image source, Getty Images
image captionCycling is on the "crest of a wave", said Olympic gold-medal cyclist Ed Clancy

Only one in five of people interviewed said the Tour de France had encouraged them to cycle more - but with the Grand Depart happening in Leeds, nearly a quarter of people in Yorkshire and the Humber said they had been inspired to spend more time on their bike.

Ed Clancy, a double Olympic gold-medal cyclist, said: "I live in Yorkshire and the Tour de France is a massive deal up there right now.

"Perhaps it's now the next step in making cycling more popular having a home Tour de France if you like. It's the sort of thing that's once in a it's definitely worth giving it a watch.

"We're really riding the crest of the wave and the more people that get involved in cycling, not just as a sport but for the commute to work or just having a laugh on the mountain bike at the weekend, is good all round."

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