95% of Cyclists Fail to Break Speed Limit

The internet is buzzing with news that cyclists  have admitted they routinely fail to break the speed limit, clogging up British roads and contributing to warnings from advanced motorists groups that there may be occasions when drivers have to slow down in order to overtake these unfortunate people who routinely insist on using nineteenth century technology and adhering to safety inspired speed limits from the 1930s.


Survey Question: As a cyclist have you ever broken the speed limit?

  • Yes, I have a speed ticket for doing 68mph on a 30mph residential hill
  • Rarely. I once did 32mph on a big hill with a strong tailwind behind me.
  • No, my bike would probably disintegrate at speeds over 20mph.
  • I didn’t know speed limits applied to cyclists.

In another survey cyclists were asked “As a cyclist, do you ever jump red lights,”

  • “Yes, frequently.” 1.9%
  • “Yes, sometimes,” 11.8%
  • “Rarely” 19.1%
  • “Never” – 42.7%
This led to quite a few articles claiming cyclists were inveterate law breakers, or as one Daily Mail reader said, 50% cycle through red lights, the other 50% are lying!

I’ve written on cycling through red lights before, and I don’t have too much more to say.

However, for me, a more important question is

  • ‘Do you cycle / drive in a way that is dangerous to other road users”
  • ‘Do you cycle / drive in a way that is inconsiderate to other road users.’

I have seen cyclists (and drivers) go through red lights, in a way which does cause great inconvenience, and annoyance, e.g. at a 4 four traffic light. I have also seen cyclists go through a pedestrian crossing because no-one was around.

Do I mind the first? yes. Do I mind the second? well, no not really.

When I see buses charging through the high street at 10mph above the speed limit passing too close to pedestrians and cyclists, it is a much more serious cause for concern because I know this could be fatal.

Roger Geffen, CTC’s campaigns director, said (link):

“As road users we would like to see road traffic laws be enforced for the safety of everyone, but let’s not forget that the risk imposed by cyclists is minimal when compared to red light jumping drivers.”

He added: “Of pedestrians injured in London in a collision caused by red light jumping only 4% involve cyclists, whereas 71% occur when a car driver jumps a red light and 13% when a motorcyclist does.

Surveys can create any impression you want. From a cyclists perspective, it would be interesting to ask questions like:

  • Do you ever pass a cyclist too closely?
  • Do you ever drive with attention distracted?
  • Do you ever get annoyed because you have to slow down to overtake cyclists?

I’ve done quite a few very bad things in my life (like, once getting a free ride on train without paying, wasted one hour of my life watching the X-Factor e.t.c) but occassionally going through a red light at pedestrian crossing because no-one is there is not one of them.

When it comes to using the road, common sense and mutual consideration is the most important thing.


2 Responses to 95% of Cyclists Fail to Break Speed Limit

  1. Adam May 2, 2013 at 10:18 am #

    I think motorists pick on cyclists because of image consciousness. Car adverts cement the self-image of the motorist as being cool and sexy etc so they look down on cyclists because they are forced to wear nerdy helmets, day-glo tabards and the like. However the only reason cyclists have such un-hip attire is to avoid being killed by dopy drivers. Also, because bikes are not vehicles as such and do not have to pay road tax or pass a test motorists can feel territorial and more worthy of the space.

  2. Shane May 17, 2012 at 6:14 pm #

    There’s an interesting article over at bikehub – http://www.bikehub.co.uk/featured-articles/cycling-and-the-law/ – It’s rather long (but worth the read) and claims “SPEED LIMITS DO NOT APPLY TO CYCLISTS” …. in the UK at least. That said though, I probably have exceeded the speed limit only once

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