Cycling is safer than gardening, Olympic gold medallist Chris Boardman said yesterday as he helped launch British Cycling’s ChooseCycling manifesto.
He stressed that all road users, including cyclists, had to observe road safety regulations and urged the UK government to take steps to make cycling and walking “the preferred methods of transport”.
Boardman said: “Statistically it’s safer to cycle than to garden. More people are injured gardening than cycling.”
The safety of cyclists has been under the spotlight since six were killed on the roads in London in a two-week period last autumn.
Boardman said: “Sadly, we have had a lot of deaths, but over the last five years the casualty rate has been very static despite more cyclists taking to the road.”
He added that the police crackdown on road users in London following the fatalities had resulted in improvements in safety with “no deaths and a dip in injuries” since the autumn.
The father of six, who triumphed at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, is a policy adviser for British Cycling, which launched the manifesto in London.
British Cycling says opportunities to bring cycling more to the fore include getting the government to raise its spending on cycling from the equivalent of £2 a head to £10 and tackling the dangers posed by lorries.
Roger Geffen, campaigns and policy director at national charity Cyclists’ Touring Club, said: “Words are not enough to ‘Get Britain Cycling’. We need leadership, commitment to high cycle-friendly design standards, and consistent funding to achieve these.” He went on: “The risks of cycling are lower than most people imagine, yet they are deterred from cycling in Britain due to fear. You are less likely to be killed in a mile of cycling than a mile of walking.
“If we are to maximise cycling’s benefits, we must enable people to cycle in conditions that are as inviting as they are in countries like Denmark and the Netherlands. Britain now has 40 years of catching up to do.”
The Automobile Association (AA) president Edmund King said: “Almost one fifth of AA members regularly cycle so, as road users, we all need to work together to promote safer cycling. [This] is in the interests of all road users, as alongside the health benefits it can help to reduce traffic congestion and parking problems.”
At the launch, Boardman said: “We are not asking for more money. We just want a commitment to back up the soundbites. The big question not being asked is: ‘What will our cities look like in ten years’ time if we don’t get more people cycling?’”