Common complaints about cyclists

LCC support initiatives such as the Good Cycling Code and encourage all road users to abide by the law. Unfortunately, cyclists are often singled out for ignoring traffic laws and there are some who think it’s acceptable to blame all people who ride bicycles for the actions of a minority. We believe this attitude to be extremely unfair, and can never be an excuse for not providing safe cycling facilities that would help make riding a bike a safe and accessible option for all people who wish to ride a bike in London, whatever their age or ability. We reject the notion that cyclists are a homogenous group and somehow share the blame for each other’s actions.

Read our response to some common complaints about cyclists below:

What is LCC doing about those cyclists that break the law by running through red lights or not stopping at pedestrian crossings etc.?

We call on all road users, whether motorists or cyclists, to abide by the law. Unfortunately cyclists are frequently singled out for ignoring traffic laws, such as going through red lights, when other road users such as motorists also ignore traffic signals, exceed speed limits, use mobile phones while driving, and do other things that cause significantly greater risk or harm to other road users, particularly pedestrians. The law needs to be applied fairly, with particular emphasis on enforcement where people are presenting danger of death or serious injury to others (as opposed to themselves) – for example, by driving above the speed limit or driving.

Sometimes cyclists ignore red lights when there is an 'all-green' pedestrian phase, to avoid collisions with motor vehicles, especially ones making turns/changing lanes. We accept this is against the law, and can intimidate pedestrians, and very occasionally results in collisions. We believe that creating safer junctions for cycling will encourage people on bikes to respect the law.

Wouldn’t all the cycling deaths and injuries be prevented if cyclists stopped going through red lights?

No. Illegal behaviour by cyclists is only a factor in around 4% of cyclist collisions. The largest cause of collisions is dangerous or careless behaviour by people driving fast or heavy vehicles. These are the types of injury most likely to result in serious injury, rather than annoying or anti-social behaviour by people on bicycles. Robust Metropolitan Police and Transport for London evidence shows that fault in two-thirds of cycling-motor vehicle collisions in Greater London are attributed to the driver.

Why should we build cycle lanes when there’s aggressive behaviour by cyclists?

Aggressive behaviour from all road users, including people on bicycles is distressing, particularly to the young and old. Indeed, bad cycling is often distressing and intimidating to other cyclists. We encourage all cyclists to show respect to all other road users and our campaigns are focused on creating a better London for people to cycle in.

Fortunately, the number of genuinely aggressive cyclists is tiny (reflecting Londoners as a whole), while the number of inconsiderate ones is also in a minority (again, reflecting London’s population). However, there are some who think it’s acceptable to blame all people who ride bicycles for the aggressive actions of a minority.

We think this is extremely unfair, and can never be an excuse for not providing safe cycling facilities. It’s notable that this principle is rarely extended to people in cars. For example, if a drink driver kills a child, the media would never attack all drivers. However, if a cyclist were to run over a pedestrian, then some sections of the media would attack cyclists as a group. We reject the notion that cyclists are a homogenous group and somehow share the blame for each other’s actions.

Does LCC condone cycling on pavements?

We encourage all cyclists to obey the law. There are many areas of shared footway in Greater London where it’s legal to cycle, and we encourage people on bikes using these to respect pedestrians and ride safely in their vicinity by slowing down and giving people plenty of space. Many pedestrians are not aware a section of pavement may be shared-space, and cyclists should ride carefully at all times.

Some cyclists choose to cycle on the footway rather than the road even where it’s illegal. Most who do this ride in a way that does not endanger pedestrians, in order to stay away from motor traffic. A minority of those who cycle on pavements ride recklessly, intimidating pedestrians, particularly the elderly, young and infirm. In all cases, riding on the pavement illegally is anti-social, even when it is done to avoid a street that’s intimidating or dangerous. We advise in these situations it is better to walk along the footway and re-join the roadway as soon as the conditions are safe.

“Cyclists don’t pay road tax”

Road tax doesn't exist as; it was abolished in 1937. Roads are paid for via general and local taxation, so all taxpayers pay for the roads whether they drive or not. Vehicle owners pay car tax (Vehicle Excise Duty) which is based on the amount of CO2 emitted from their vehicles. As cyclists do not emit any CO2 emissions, they do not have to pay Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) tax on their bikes. Many cyclists are also car-owners too, so already pay VED, and some motorists don’t pay VED due to running electric cars, vintage cars, and so on.

Is there any general advice about how to cycle safely?

Cycling in London can be great fun, good for the environment, and great for health, as well as getting you about the city quickly. However, busy roads can be intimidating to some cyclists so LCC has produced advice on riding responsibly and assertively in London. 

This advice can be found here.  These pages include information on checking that your bike is safe to ride, accessing cycle training, tips on minimising the risk of cycling on London’s busy roads, and details of where to ride.

Another way to gain confidence is to attend an LCC free guided ride organised by LCCs local groups. We would also encourage people to make use of free or subsidised cycle training offered by their Local Borough Council