It has recently been reported that 47% of the children residing in the UK are being discouraged from learning to cycle by their parents’ concerns over safety on UK roads.
The survey was carried out by road safety charity, Brake, and displays that the worrying level of mistrust in our roads by parents, is having a negative effect on children developing their cycling skills.
So are the parents’ worries legitimate? Or should they do a better job of disguising these worries so that their children can enjoy their hobby on a more regular basis.
Well, one of the biggest concerns for parents, according to the survey carried out on 1,301 school children aged 11 to 17, is the speed of traffic in the surrounding areas to where they live. Out of those who took the poll it was revealed that 37% of people would like to see an investment to increase the number of cycle paths and pavements to increase the likelihood of cycling or walking.
There has never been any doubt over whether or not cyclists fall within the most vulnerable group when it comes to using British roads, but what do the statistics say in relation to cyclist casualties.
Well in 2013, there were 109 cyclist fatalities, six of who were children. In addition to this there was 3,143 seriously injured of which 276 were children. On top of this it also has to be taken into account that a lot of cyclist accidents are not reported to the police, regardless of the severity of injury.
The deputy chief executive of Brake, Julie Townsend was apprehensive about the revelations from the survey and insists that cycling should be part of building a healthier lifestyle for children in the UK and therefore points the finger of blame towards the infrastructure of the roads.
She said: “All parents want their children to be healthy and happy, and many would love to see them walking and cycling more to achieve that.”
“Young people want this too: it’s crucial to their health, wellbeing, and social and economic lives that they can get around easily and cheaply.”
“That so many teenagers are being held back from walking and cycling by safety fears, in spite of its great benefits, is a shocking indictment of our road infrastructure.”
Since the Olympics and Bradley Wiggins’ success in the 2012 Tour de France, there has been a huge push on cycling and it remains one of the outstanding legacies to come from the London games. So much so, that the Government has invested a record £374 million into improving the development of cycling.
This is a point that the government and, in particular, cycling minister Robert Goodwill, want to emphasise to put parents and their children at ease over road safety.
He claims that by March this year 1.6 million children will have received cycle training through the Bikeability scheme currently being run by the government as part of the record funding, but is he missing the point?
In most instances it is not necessarily the child’s judgement of the road that is causing concern for so many parents but more the road users themselves and clearly parents feel that more needs to be done in the UK to tackle speeding drivers and to make our roads safer for cyclists and pedestrians alike.
The government can argue that they have made it easier for their local authorities to introduce 20mph zones to increase safety further but are they enforced properly? Are people really taking head to then slower speed zones?
Chris Walker, who is the Partner for Serious and Catastrophic injury at Scott Rees and Co solicitors, underlined the importance of clamping down on road users who continue to ignore speed regulations and other such laws.
He said: “Having seen the impact that a serious road traffic accident involving a cyclist can have on the victim, I can completely sympathise with the standpoint of the parents and why there is this fear for their children.”
“Child fatalities on the road are generally quite rare but when they happen it is heartbreaking and the after-effects on the family are life changing”
“It is easy to herald the bikeability program as it truly is a fantastic program and a great bi-product of the Olympic legacy and I for one would love to see more young people being encouraged to cycle.”
“But it what has been introduced so far by the government is not enough in terms of action against dangerous drivers and it is no surprise that this sits on the back of the mind of parents when it comes to children learning to cycle.”
Scott Rees and Co specialise in supporting road traffic accident victims and an injury and will strive to help you get access to the best medical care and rehabilitation available should you be injured on the road, regardless of whether you are driving a car or riding a bike.