Survey ahead of Tour de France reveals nervous nation of teens when it comes to pedal power

Chris Froome (front right ) and his Team Sky colleagues will be riding through Calderdale on July 6
Chris Froome (front right ) and his Team Sky colleagues will be riding through Calderdale on July 6

As Calderdale gears up to host the Grand Depart this Sunday, a survey published today (Wednesday) has revealed teen angst about taking to two wheels.

As millions of fans descend on Yorkshire to watch the world’s cycling stars, Brake and RSA - which carried out the survey and talked to over 1,000 teenagers - are warning that action is needed from national and local government across the UK to make cycling safer to enable the next generation to take it up and enjoy the benefits without fearing for their safety.

Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive at Brake, said: “‘Le Tour’ coming to our home county is a great coup for the region and the UK, and great timing given the wave of enthusiasm for cycling. But our survey shows many young people - our next generation of cycling stars - want to cycle more, but are wary of doing so. It remains that fast traffic and inadequate safe routes have a major impact on people’s ability to choose and enjoy cycling, and children and young people’s ability to live active lifestyles. It’s a sad state of affairs that our next Bradley Wiggins may never get on a bike because his mum says it’s too dangerous.

“We believe everyone should be able to cycle or walk in their community without fear or threat. Anyone who drives can help bring this about: pledge to ‘GO 20’ around homes, schools and shops, and take great care to look out for cyclists and pedestrians this summer and year-round. We’re also appealing to local and national government to recognise the huge demand for, and importance of, safe walking and cycling, and implement widespread 20mph limits and safe routes.”

The results of the survey show that:

• Only one in 11 (9%) teens cycle weekly or more, while one in four (23%) never cycle

• Four in 10 (42%) would like to be able to start cycling or cycle more

• Of those, 39% say lack of safe routes is a factor preventing them

• 46% say their parents would worry about them cycling

• 32% say they would feel nervous cycling on local roads

To ease these fears, Brake said introducing 20mph limits in towns and cities alongside more traffic free cycling and walking routes and improvements to road design would help deliver a legacy of healthy, active, green communities where everyone can cycle and walk without being endangered. They are also calling on drivers everywhere to help make roads safer for cycling, by slowing down to 20mph in built up areas, taking bends and junctions cautiously, giving space to cyclists and looking out for people on bike and foot.

Peter Collins, head of corporate responsibility for RSA, says: “In a year when the Tour de France starts in the UK with a current British champion it’s sad to see that so many of our teens are put off cycling by safety fears. Not only is cycling good for health; there are also environmental benefits - but safety is paramount and that’s why initiatives like ‘GO 20’ are so important.”