Insurance website inflames "motorist vs cyclist" debate

Confused.com attempts to "reveal the danger of cycle rage"

With Road Safety Week kicking off today, cyclists and motorists – and the relationship between the two – are firmly in the spotlight.

And rather than calming things down, insurance website Confused.com looks to have only inflamed matters. They conducted a survey over the last month in a bid to find out the issues that make the blood of cyclists and motorists boil and suggestions of what could be done to improve relations. They surveyed 1,000 of each and published their findings in a press release which didn't hide the side of the fence they were on.

Titled ‘Cyclo-paths and two-wheel tantrums – Confused.com reveals the danger of cycle rage’, they summarised the press release with ‘Cycle rage grips the UK’ and their finding that a quarter of motorists questioned felt cyclists should pay road tax, even though the ‘road’ tax which motorists pay is actually a tax on the vehicle (vehicle excise duty) and the fact that roads are paid for out of general taxation.

Commenting on the survey, Carlton Reid, creator of the ipayroadtax blog and editor of Bikebiz, said the insurance site had more than lived up to its name. “Confused? Quite. Motorists haven't paid 'road tax' since 1937,” he said. “Organisations like the Post Office and the AA call the duty by the more accurate name of 'car tax', which doesn't carry with it the connotation that motorists pay for roads and that cyclists’ should steer clear of said roads."

Next on their agenda was how cyclists and motorists are turning to social media to report incidents of road related anger, “identifying 2,674 tweets mentioning ‘road rage’ and ‘cyclist’” in the first nine months of this year. In response, they said they’ve created an interactive map that can be used to pinpoint “rage blackspots”. Perhaps the most inflammatory quote was their claim that the survey “identifies what sends cyclists into a ‘two-wheeled tantrum’ and turns car drivers ‘cyclo-pathic’”, a pun which seems to imply that motorists' rage is a result of cyclists simply being on the road.

They then breakdown the results of the survey, leading with - in bold type - the problems motorists have with cyclists. Out of the 1,000 questioned, 31 percent said they had been forced to swerve their vehicle because of a cyclist, 22 percent said their journeys had been delayed by a cyclist, while 30 percent reckoned they’d seen a cyclist go through a red light. 46 percent said they are sometimes annoyed by cyclists on the road, with a number of suggestions put forward to help; 14 percent wanted cyclists to display number plates, while getting cyclists to pass a version of the driving test before they could ride was popular with 44 percent. 59 percent wanted to see cyclists punished if they were caught jumping a red light.

The release did include the issues cyclists have with motorists, but this wasn’t in bold type. Findings included a quarter of cyclists had been beeped or sworn at by a motorist, with more than one in eight knocked off their bikes. 14 percent said they had been run of the road by a motorist, 11 percent had been hit by an opening car door and four percent had even been chased. There was a feeling that cyclists are feeling less safe than this time last year, with 65 percent saying so. Solutions from cyclists to improve their journeys included legalising cycling on the pavement (28 percent), more cycling lanes (58 percent), more hire bikes (25 percent) and allowing cyclists to go through red lights (nine percent).

Despite the bias towards motorists shown in much of the release, quotes attributed to Head of Car Insurance at Confused.com Gareth Kloet contradicted much of what had gone before as he urged "all road users to exercise respect and courtesy as the roads are for everyone and tolerance could save people’s live".

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