Cyclists given less space by motorists when travelling in cycle lanes, according to study

Cycle lane safety called into question

New research has found that motorists give cyclists less room when riding in cycle lanes, raising safety concerns for riders.

The study, which is supported by the CTC, found that motorists have ‘less recognition’ of providing adequate passing distance for cycle users. The report was put together using a bicycle that measures vehicle distance, which was cycled on roads with and without cycle lanes.

Cycle safety is thought to be one of the key obstacles for some groups to take up the activity, including women.

The CTC called for a reassessment of cycle lanes. Policy Coordinator Chris Peck said: “Cycle lanes have a part to play in improving road conditions for cyclists, but this research has raised concerns that they are not always the best solution and may in fact make cycling more unpleasant. Where a cycle lane exists, drivers may overtake with the belief that they can use the entire road space outside the cycle lane, and consequently may be paying less attention to the cyclist’s need for space.”

The University of Leeds Institute for Transport Studies played a significant role in compiling the report. The Institute’s Ciaran Meyers said: “The analysis shows that significantly wider passing distances are adopted by motorists on a 9.5 metre wide carriageway without a 1.45 metre cycle lane and with speed limits of 40mph and 50mph.”

The University of Bolton was also involved in the study: “In the presence of a cycle lane, a driver is likely to drive between the cycle lane line and the centre line in a position which is appropriate for the visible highway horizontal geometry ahead of the driver," said the University of Bolton’s John Parkin.

"A cyclist within a cycle lane does not seem to cause a driver to adopt a different position in his or her lane. This has important implications for the width of cycle lanes and implies that their width should never be compromised.” 

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