Tuesday, 1 September 2009

We know it's stylish, but is it safe?

This month sustainable transport charity Sustrans launches its petition for women cyclists.
We all know cycling in London is one of the quickest and most stylish ways to get around. But is it safe? Sadly many women think not. Statistics from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents do show that men are far more likely to be involved in cycling accidents than women. But this could simply be because most cyclists are male. Whatever the statistics show, it is vital women feel safe on the roads. At the moment, most women say they do not.
According to the team at Sustrans most British women just don't believe the roads are safe enough for them to cycle on. A survey of more than 1,000 women found 79 per cent do not cycle at all, and road safety was the biggest factor putting them off. A total of 67 per cent of respondents said there should be more dedicated cycle lanes separate from other traffic.
The petition will call for the government to swing into action and make cycling in Britain safer for women. The Motion for Women petition will be live until the end of November and has the backing of organisations Mind and the WI.
Melissa Henry, comms director at Sustrans, says: 'Women are telling us in no uncertain terms they don't feel the roads are safe enough for them to cycle on. 79 per cent of women do not cycle at all. But women are also telling us they desperately want that situation to change. The desire to cycle, and enjoy all the benefits that cycling brings, is becoming a priority.'
You can add your support to the petition at Sustrans' site for women, Bike Belles.
Although it is not essential, a helmet can help you feel safer on the roads. Wearing a helmet is very much a matter of personal choice, but for those who do choose to wear one, we can recommend the wonderful range from Bern which are designed to cushion the head against small impacts more effectively than ordinary helmets. It helps that they look fantastic too! Our current favourite is this Muse Hard Hat with Graphic.


Mom said...

The Cycle Chic movement is a sort of PR campaign for cycling to women. But improved facilities: lanes, paths, and good pavement, are the other imperative component of getting more women on their bikes. We need to advocate to our local governments for these improvements.

In the meantime, I just strive to set a good example. ;-)

Unknown said...

Hang on - cycling *is* safe!

Look here: -


It's always been safe. What has changed is people's *perception* of how safe it is. Especially those who don't cycle.

The statistics show that deaths and serious injury while riding the bike have bearly changed since the '70s.

Cycling is a low risk activity. You don't need to wear any high viz. As this site shows - you can look cool on the bike.

And you don't need to wear a helmet. It is the fact that so many people wear a helmet now that makes people think it must be dangerous.

People don't wear a helmet when walking, yet many more people get killed by cars while walking than riding a bike.

There seems little point in campaigning to make things safer when that isn't the problem. In fact campaigning to make things safer could actually make things worse because it gives the impression that it's dangerous in the first place.

People need to be told how fun, safe, convenient and safe cycling already is and help them get on their bikes.

This site helps to do this in the main. But this article does little to help.

You should have looked at the facts and evidence more and taken the opportunity to set people's misconceptions about how risk cycling is.

Forget the helmet, do as the Danes and the Dutch do - wear normal clothes and look cool on your bike.

Cathy said...

Unfortunately Tony whilst I agree with you that cycling is safe - hence I do it every day - if 79 per cent of women think the government has a duty to do something, we want to raise awareness of that. It would be extremely irresponsible of us to rubbish these fears and simply say 'don't be so silly, of course it is safe!' Whatever the statistics - which incidentally show just 136 people a year are killed on their bikes, an exceptionally low number - if women do not feel safe, then the government has a duty to act.

Weenie said...

Oh God, the helmet debate! For me it's a personal choice, and I thought this article was reporting the fact that women don't feel safe, not supporting or disputing that viewpoint. But, getting back on topic.....

It disappoints me that so many women feel unsafe on the roads but I'm not surprised. I commute around 100 miles a week on-road on my bike and I don't always feel safe. I am aware, however that I'm far more gung ho than many of my female friends so it doesn't put me off. Cycle lanes where I live aren't protected from idiots parking and/or driving in them and are badly maintained.

Perhaps in the government protected the areas we're meant to cycle in people (women included) would feel safer. At the moment it feels a lot like cycle lanes are just green paint on the road.

Cathy said...

Interesting piece in The Times here on cycle lanes


Colville-Andersen said...

bike helmet promotion is probably quite the worst thing we can do to encourage women to cycle.

there are many reasons why the European Cyclists Federation and cyclist federations in a host of countries, including the CTC are helmet sceptics.

the fact that there's no conclusive evidence that they work is a main one, but the mere promotion of helmets brands cycling as 'dangerous', which it is not.

This is nothing new, of course. Even the Dublin councillor who pushed for a bike share programme has his science in order:

"There is little evidence to prove the benefits of wearing a helmet while cycling, the councillor who initiated the capital’s new bike rental scheme has said.

After the launch of Dublinbikes yesterday morning, Labour councillor Andrew Montague said it was not essential that those hiring bikes in the capital wear safety helmets.

“We don’t have compulsory helmets in Dublin and I would not be overly concerned about cycling without a helmet,” he said."

The Cycle Chic 'movement', started by yours truly, is about promoting cycling positively. People who promote helmets are no friends of cycling. Those who focus on the positives are doing all the good work.

Unknown said...

Its always important to have a safe cycling apart from having a stylish cycle.

Since it reduces the risk alot.

Cycling Mind