Safety concerns put brake on cycle use in Hull

SAFETY fears are putting the brakes on cyclists venturing out on the roads of one of the UK’s top cities for biking, new research has revealed.

Nearly half of those questioned in a People’s Panel in Hull, which has one of the highest number of cyclists in the UK, gave safety concerns as the reason for not cycling more often despite a huge turn-out for car-free mass cycling events. Another 47 per cent gave weather as a reason, with 27 per cent of others blaming lack of secure parking and fear of theft.

In August, 8,000 people poured onto deserted city streets when the city centre was closed to motorists for the second time to take part in a national event called Sky Ride, which aims to encourage people to rediscover the pleasure of cycling and build on the boom in popularity of the sport in the wake of the Olympics. A third mass cycling event will be held next year along with locally-led rides as part of a partnership between the city council, British Cycling and Sky.

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Statistics show cyclists have grounds for their concern - while there have been no fatalities this year in Hull, 30 cyclists were seriously injured in accidents, more than half the total number across the force area. A casualty reduction officer for Hull, PC Keith Ward, said they had been handing out flashing wristbands to try and make cyclists more visible.

He said: “They are a vulnerable road user group; there are a lot of them and their numbers seem to be growing because of austerity cuts and people commuting to work on their bikes. You do see cyclists out wearing the correct equipment, but I would always advise wearing a helmet, something fluorescent and displaying lights and unfortunately we do see a number who don’t.”

He said cyclists and drivers often clashed, and added: “They tend to be as bad as each other, car drivers seem to think they own the road and some cyclists don’t help themselves by not displaying their lights, weaving in and out of traffic and going through red lights”

Meanwhile, officials are awaiting the outcome of a bid to the Department of Transport for a cycle-hire scheme at the city’s Paragon Station.

The survey of 1,273 people found that a third would be willing to use a manned cycle parking facility for a small fee - although 13 per cent would only use it if it was free. But just five per cent said they would “definitely” use a hub-based cycle hire scheme as a way of encouraging “green” forms of transport. Another 27 per cent said they would “possibly” use a scheme.

The scheme would offer 10 bikes for hire and allow 160 to be parked securely. The money would cover the cost of creating the secured parking space as well as work space for a social enterprise offering bike servicing, repair, maintenance, training and bicycle recycling, but not running costs.

The idea is not new - three years ago Hull was on a national shortlist for a cycle-hub based at the station, but progress fizzled out because of lack of interest from the rail industry and the change of government. A report being discussed next month says the bid is “speculative” and “by no means guaranteed”.

A previous report noted that even the most successful schemes have come nowhere near paying for themselves. The schemes usually rely on taxpayers’ money for set up and “very significant” support from sponsors, who try and recoup money from advertising.

Coun Gary Wareing, the deputy chairman of the environment and transport overview and scrutiny commission, which will be discussing the survey, said: “I think we would support it if other people were sponsoring it or paying for it, like Barclays did the Boris scheme in London. But to get money allocated would be extremely difficult when we are making so many cuts in so many other areas.”

Academics last year ranked Hull the fourth best city in the UK for cycling.