Social study provides insight into driver emotions

12.09 | 7 June 2018 | | | 13 comments

A new ‘social study’ suggests that 20% of cyclists and drivers fear for their own safety while using UK roads.

The study, described as the first of its kind, was carried out by cycling insurer Cycleplan who analysed more than half a million social media posts – from both cyclists and drivers – between January 2016 and July 2017.

The primary aim of the study was to provide an insight into the emotional state of road users.

‘Anger towards one and other’ was found to be the top emotion, experienced by 53% of road users – while just 11% feel ‘joy’ while either driving or riding.

In terms of location, ‘fear’ was most prevalent in Greater London (25%), while feelings of ‘joy’ peaked among road users in east Wales (33%).

The study also set out to identify what drivers and cyclists considered to be the other’s worst road behaviours.

Among cyclists, speeding drivers were mentioned in 51,146 posts, followed by ‘bad drivers’ in 47,262 posts. Driving too close was fifth on the list, mentioned in 20,759 posts.

According to drivers, cyclists not wearing high visibility gear is the biggest issue, with 44,115 posts detected. Second on the list was cyclists wearing headphones while riding (42,287 posts) – while undertaking/overtaking on the wrong side of the road received the fourth-most posts (23,801).

Lizzie Deignan, Olympic cyclist and Cycleplan ambassador, said: “To make the roads a better and safer place for cyclists and drivers alike, we need to remove the blame by each side.

“The more understanding we all have in sharing the road, the less stressful travelling on them will be.

“As a driver and a cyclist, it’s equally important that when I’m riding my bike or driving my car, I’m adhering to the Highway Code because it’s not just about my safety, it’s about everybody else’s safety.

“You have an equal responsibility whether you’re driving or cycling – it’s about mutual respect.”

Nearly three quarters (76%) of the social media posts in the survey were uploaded by a male respondent, while nine out of 10 (90%) were from persons aged 35 years and above.


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    ‘Innocent until proven guilty’ is not really an adage that the road safety fraternity should be instilling in drivers to influence better behaviour is it. More relevant ones that spring to mind are ‘better safe than sorry’ or ‘prevention is better than cure’ etc. etc.. other sayings are available. How about ‘don’t put yourself in a position where you have to defend /explain your actions to the police, judge and jury’?

    Hugh Jones
    Agree (6) | Disagree (3)

    If, in Hugh’s desire, the driver is to be held to greater account for things that may or may not be in their control, then one would expect say… to be granted greater responsibility for things that may be in their control. Read into that as you may 😉

    David Weston, Corby
    Agree (1) | Disagree (1)

    Having seen video on U Tube of behavior in London I would have thought not stopping at red lights would of figured as a top complaint.

    Paul has a point about separation but when it is done how often have we come across cyclists not using the brand new cycle ways for their use.

    Comments from cyclists saying that these cycle routes damage their racing bikes are amongst some comments made why they don’t use them. I think the real reason is that they are not designed for the Tour de France speed they would like to go at. Here’s a controversial thought perhaps – it should be made law that when on a road with a cycle route/path on it, it should be mandatory to be used. Discuss! Driver education about cyclists should be on the lines of driving by horses. Slow down and when able to overtake give 1.5m gap.

    David, Cornwall
    Agree (1) | Disagree (0)

    I fully understand the logic Hugh but I still go along with the quaint British principle of innocent until proven guilty.

    Pat, Wales
    Agree (8) | Disagree (0)

    Pat – whilst motorists who are at fault would, we hope, be prosecuted (it doesn’t always follow) that’s bolting the stable door after the horse has bolted and may be too late for the cyclist. The idea of presumed liability is to instill in motorists the notion – or even the fear – that they will automatically be considered liable, with a view to getting them to sharpen up their act, be more vigilant, drive defensively and not collide with cyclists and pedestrians in the first place. The exception might be where the driver is stopped or moving slower than the cyclist – and it is the cyclist who was not able to stop in time due to their carelessness or recklessness.

    As Mr Tapp says, it’s the driver who is in charge of the lethal weapon, not the cyclist and must accept the responsibility that goes with that.

    Hugh Jones
    Agree (2) | Disagree (6)

    Motorists ARE responsible for their actions and if at fault can already be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. They shouldn’t also be presumed to be responsible for cyclists errors with the onus of proving a collision with a cyclist was not their fault. There is some appalling vehicle driving and some equally appalling riding by cyclists who seem to have such a flagrant disregard of the rules of the road one may think they (the cyclists) have a death wish.

    Pat, Wales
    Agree (10) | Disagree (0)

    M Worthington – if vulnerable road users are scared off the road I hope that they will spend time lobbying politicians to produce a safer system. Quite simple : segregation on busy roads and eliminate through traffic from backstreets.

    Paul Luton, Teddington
    Agree (4) | Disagree (2)

    Equal responsibility? It depends what is meant by this. In more enlightened countries there is recognition of the extra responsibility that comes from being in charge of a lethal weapon. A slight mistake from a cyclist or pedestrian might hurt themselves or maybe lead to a minor injury – KSIs while not unknown are rare. A slight mistake from a motorist may well kill others, and often does – KSIs are common. This is the logic of presumed liability – deployed in many countries across Europe.

    alan tapp, bristol
    Agree (6) | Disagree (6)

    Did anyone else notice that while cyclists cited two illegal behaviours at things they dislike most, whereas motorists could only manage “Yeah, hi viz!”

    Tim Lennon, London
    Agree (5) | Disagree (4)

    M. is right about the fear factor and it correlates with the hierarchy of responsibility which should determine and influence our behaviour on the road. Those in charge of the bigger, heavier, faster-moving vehicles must accept that they have a duty of care and responsibility to the more vulnerable, slower moving road users. This latter group should equally, because of their own vulnerability be aware of their own behaviour and not put themselves at risk but we must not forget that ultimately, the motorised vehicle user is going to do more harm to the unprotected cyclists and/or pedestrians and not the other way round. In the event of a collision, the onus must be on the motorised road user to explain why he/she did not avoid colliding with a slower moving road user.

    Hugh Jones
    Agree (7) | Disagree (8)

    Fear or at least some degree of apprehension together with an understanding of ones vulnerability is a good thing. They are feelings or attitudes that can help in keeping two wheeled riders alive.

    However, if they are so fearful of riding on a road then maybe, just maybe they shouldn’t. Being filled with fear is not the most helpful of attitudes and being overwhelmed and overcome by adrenaline is not the safest mental attitude to take out on a road.

    Agree (11) | Disagree (8)

    If we ‘remove the blame’, we won’t be able to ‘remove’ the offenders from the roads – although admittedly, that is impossible for cyclists and other non-licensed, non-identifiable road users.

    Hugh Jones
    Agree (3) | Disagree (12)

    I am glad Lizzie mentions equal responsibility when driving or cycling. We don’t want the presumed liability model where the motorist is presumed at fault by default coming to the uk roads.

    Pat, Wales
    Agree (11) | Disagree (10)

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