Children put off cycling by road safety fears - Brake survey

Girl takes part in Prudential RideLondon on August 3, 2013 in London Image copyright Getty Images

Safety fears are preventing more young people walking or cycling, according to a survey by road safety charity Brake.

In a poll of 1,301 school pupils aged 11 to 17, 47% said their parents' worries put them off, and 41% thought traffic was dangerously fast.

A lack of safe routes was cited by 38% as a barrier to cycling.

Cycling Minister Robert Goodwill said his department's investment in cycling "will help keep young cyclists safe".

The survey suggested that 44% of people in this age group never cycled and were therefore "missing out on the benefits of cycling entirely".

However, Brake also found more people surveyed disagreed (59%) than agreed (41%) with the idea that current speed limits in their area are too fast for the safety of cyclists and pedestrians.

Brake's deputy chief executive, Julie Townsend, said: "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."

The government has proposed an amendment to the Infrastructure Bill currently going through Parliament which would require the transport secretary to come up with a "cycling and walking investment strategy" for England.

'Increasingly popular'

Mr Goodwill said: "Our record £374m investment in cycling will help keep young cyclists safe.

"By March 2015, 1.6m children will have received cycle training through the Bikeability scheme.

"We have also made it easier for local authorities to introduce 20mph zones which are designed to help increase safety as cycling becomes an increasingly popular transport option in Britain."

Bikeability is a government-run agency which offers lessons in safe cycling in England. A similar scheme operates in Scotland.

Department for Transport statistics show that 35 pedestrians aged 0 to 17 were killed in Great Britain in 2013, the latest full year for which figures are available, and 1,506 were seriously injured.

Nine cyclists in the same age bracket were killed and 381 injured.

Brake is among campaigners calling for a 20mph speed limit to be adopted more widely in urban areas.

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