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What Do Cyclists Think of Other Road Users?22nd June 2020 Personal Injury
Cyclists represent a small percentage of road users, yet are considered to be one of the most vulnerable due to their lack of physical protection. In 2018, 99 cyclists died on Britain’s road, while 3,707 were seriously injured and 13,744 slightly injured in accidents, according to data published by the Department for Transport (DfT).
Is there a hierarchy amongst road users?
In a 2002 study conducted by the DfT, drivers were asked to consider whether they believed a hierarchy existed amongst the different types of road users. The responses given indicated that one did exist based on the size of a vehicle, i.e. the larger the vehicle, the more respect received from other road users. Although, respondents considered motorcycles as an exception to this rule due to their speed and manoeuvrability compensating for their lack of size.
Most significantly, respondents had to be prompted to consider cyclists when discussing other road users, suggesting they were dismissing cycling as a genuine form of transport.
What are motorists’ impressions of cyclists?
The DfT also asked drivers to share their impressions/associations on cyclists, finding that they were predominantly negative:
|Healthy - in terms of personal and environmental benefits||Vulnerable - perceived greater potential for involvement and then injury or death from traffic accidents|
|Brave - cycling in motorised traffic despite their lack of any real protection||Irresponsible - due to an absence of training or formal commitment to lawful behaviour|
|Despised - cycling should be provided for through separate facilities and not allowed on the roads|
|Dangerous - cyclists pose risks to themselves and other road users|
|Erratic/Unpredictable - for example, weaving in and out of traffic, not signalling intentions, etc.|
|Arrogant - it was felt that cyclists seemed to believe they were invincible or that other roads users were responsible for their safety|
|Inconvenient - basic characteristics of cycling were perceived as fundamentally different and delaying to motorised road use|
Respondents were also asked to describe sketches of different types of cyclists, including what sort of behaviour they would expect from each type of cyclist. The pictures shown to respondents included:
- A family cycling where each member of the family wore a helmet
- A girl on a bicycle with a helmet on
- A young man on a cycle without a helmet on
- An older woman on a cycle with a pet riding in the cycle’s front basket, the woman was not wearing a helmet
- A pack of professional-looking cyclists, all with helmets on
- A young boy riding a BMX cycle on one wheel whilst wearing no helmet
From the group’s responses, it was identified that motorists considered how cyclists looked to affect the way they believe the cyclist would behave. Those wearing helmets were generally considered to be more serious and sensible on the road than those without; however, there was one exception - the pack of professional cyclists. This was due to the erratic behaviour of the group outweighing the positive associations of wearing a cycling helmet.
In general, respondents felt that people who had specialist cycling equipment and clothing were more likely to also have the experience required to employ correct cycling behaviour. However, a minority of participants felt that cyclists wearing helmets might be more timid and cautious than those without, wearing a helmet out of fear rather than as a sensible precaution.
What do cyclists think about other road users?
With cycling seemingly overlooked by other road users, we wanted to find out what cyclists thought of pedestrians and vehicle drivers. JMW Solicitors surveyed more than 1,500 cyclists in the UK on their feelings about sharing the road with other vehicles, including what they thought about them. The survey revealed that 58% of cyclists regarded other road users (i.e. vehicle drivers, motorcyclists and pedestrians) as having the most negative impact on their confidence when cycling on the road.
Furthermore, one-third (15%) of our survey respondents have been involved in an accident, with 19% of incidents being blamed on cars or car drivers.
With this in mind, we asked participants to describe other road users in just one word - here are the results:
The top 10 most used words to describe bus drivers:
The top 10 most used words to describe taxi drivers:
The top 10 most used words to describe truck drivers:
The top 10 most used words to describe van drivers:
The top 10 most used words to describe car drivers:
The top 10 most used words to describe motorcyclists:
The top 10 most used words to describe other cyclists:
The top 10 most used words to describe pedestrians: