Science-based technology company, 3M, urges local authorities to address concerns felt by drivers, cyclists and pedestrians
Roads, transport and parking should be the number one agenda item for local authorities in 2022, according to more than two fifths of Brits (46%). The new research from science-based technology company, 3M reveals that at a local-level, this is the area most in need of attention ahead of housing (44%), jobs, business and investment (38%) and planning, building and the environment (34%).
After more time spent working, travelling and exercising close to home in the past two years, 80% of people in Britain believe the pandemic has highlighted the need for vehicles, bicycles and pedestrians to be able to co-exist. However, there are specific factors preventing these groups from doing so in harmony.
Drivers vs cyclists – the perception gap
It is estimated that one in five Brits now cycle in a typical week – yet a third (33%) say that despite having access to cycle lanes where they live, they still wouldn’t feel safe enough to travel on a bike during peak times.
The research has brought prevalent safety concerns and the contrasting opinions of road users to the fore, particularly when it comes to motorists and cyclists. Almost seven in 10 (70%) cyclists worry that drivers don’t know the correct etiquette when using roads with cycle lanes in their area. Meanwhile, only 53% of drivers said that they know the Highway Code rules in relation to cyclists, which at the time of the study had not been updated since 2015.
Outside of lane usage, overtaking is a bone of contention for motorists and cyclists alike; 93% of drivers say they leave as much room when overtaking a cyclist as they would a car whereas 73% of cyclists say drivers pass too closely.
One thing both parties do agree on is there not being clear enough road markings on cycle lanes for all road users – only 23% of motorists and 30% of cyclists feel there are clear visible markings in their area. The lack of visual guidance could be part of the problem when it comes to navigating shared road spaces, easily improved by solutions such as better signage that incorporates retroreflective technology, while also improving education on the Highway Code.
Andy Fish, Technical Specialist for 3M Transportation Safety Division, said:
“It’s fantastic that investment in new cycle lanes, walkways and other infrastructure up and down the country is being put to good use. This research shows that irrespective of mode of transport, the majority of people want to be able to share spaces with others safely, and they are looking to their local authorities for support.
“At 3M we are actively encouraging local councils and highway authorities to participate in a pilot scheme that would allow their communities to benefit from traffic safety solutions designed to address some of the concerns expressed by drivers, cyclists and pedestrians.”
Drivers’ admitted lack of understanding of the Highway Code could be to blame for some of the frustrations they have towards cyclists – 86% say seeing two or more ride side-by-side is frustrating and 72% say they become frustrated simply by driving behind one.
This is in spite of it being legal for two cyclists to ride next to each other unless on narrow or busy roads or cycling round bends, along with recent rule changes including cyclists riding alone being instructed to use the centre of the lane in slower moving traffic.
When it comes to other vulnerable road users, the survey also found shortcomings in relation to walkways as 70% of Brits say they should be pedestrian only zones – which 65% of cyclists are also in favour of.
Not only that, only two-fifths (39%) believe walkways are big enough to cater for multiple types of road users (e.g. walkers, cyclists, mobility scooter users) and 30% of road users say their local council could do more to make their area more accessible and safer for pedestrians.