‘I will never ride a bike again’: why people are giving up on cycling. Source: The Guardian

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Cycling

‘I will never ride a bike again’: why people are giving up on cycling

Guardian readers explain how safety concerns have deterred them from travelling by bike

A person on a bike in London

A person on a bike in London. Photograph: CAMimage/Alamy

Alfie Packham and Guardian readersThu 1 Sep 2022 18.31 BSTLast modified on Thu 1 Sep 2022 19.52 BST

The proportion of adults in England who say they cycle at least once a month has fallen to 13.1%, the lowest figure since records began in 2015-16. Here, readers from around the UK explain why they have given up riding their bikes on the road.

‘Riding at peak traffic times? No, thank you’

I stopped cycling because my bike was stolen twice from a cycle hoop in a span of one year. Even though I had insurance, I lost about £400 on locks. That experience was enough to deter me from buying a bike for a third time.

Another reason is that I don’t feel comfortable and safe cycling to work in Canary Wharf. I abandoned the idea after doing a couple of trial rides during lockdowns. Doing the same at peak traffic times? No, thank you. And a third reason is I don’t feel safe putting my eight-year-old son on the road when I’m with him. School drop-offs and pickups are calmer and probably safer when we take a bus.

I now take the tube to work. I’ve been out once or twice on my wife’s bike because I’ve missed cycling – but not enough to buy a new one. Leon, 35, software developer, London

‘My nerves have gone’

Helen Simpkin

Helen Simpkin

I have ridden a bike all my life and have ridden thousands of miles but had a couple of years off. When I started again just after lockdown it was a truly terrifying experience. With almost no exceptions, all the road users were aggressive and impatient and resented having to share the road. Friends of mine, also experienced cyclists, have had traumatic and life-threatening accidents.

I know that the Highway Code has changed to give more rights to cyclists but this will make no difference. I will never ride a bike again, my nerves have gone. I will, however, be walking more and using public transport more often. Helen Simpkin, 55, teacher, Penarth

‘It’s too dangerous around here’

Dave Symons

Dave Symons Photograph: Guardian Community

I started cycling again about three years ago, in order to teach road safety to our grandson. But this year we sold our bikes. It’s too dangerous around here. There are very few pavements, nothing’s marked out for cyclists, and what cycle paths we do have are too far away.

The nearest purpose-made cycle path to us is about 3 miles away and is simply a straight path, where there’s no way to teach my grandson left and right turns and so on. And we needed a car to get there. Dave Symons, 75, retired, Skelmersdale, Lancashire

‘I was really shaken’

I stopped cycling a few months ago. Partly because I’m pregnant but also because of the amount of abuse I received from drivers in the city.

Helen Pidd cycling in a clearly marked cycle lane, Manchester city centre.

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The last time I was out, I crossed the road on my bike when the light turned green for cyclists and pedestrians. A car followed me up the road, stopped, and two adults roared at me from their car: “It was a red light.” I didn’t realise it was me they were shouting at and then stopped my bike in shock (I was safely on a cycle track at this stage).

I was really shaken and sadly decided I wouldn’t take the bike out again in the city until after baby is born. My husband cycles regularly and doesn’t receive half the abuse I seem to when I’m out. Trina, 36, Glasgow

‘I miss cycling’

I caught Covid at the end of October last year. I’d been vaccinated and it started as a mild cold. Later I developed a rather severe case of long Covid. I’ve been off work for the last 10 months, and at the beginning I could hardly climb one flight of stairs. My heart rate would shoot up 150.

Kerstin Sailer

Kerstin Sailer

I just can’t exercise any more. I take beta blockers to control my heart rate. At most I can now ride a bicycle slowly for about a kilometre. I have to be careful with any exertion, because even light activities can push me over the edge. I get energy crashes where I feel miserable for a day, or sometimes two or three days.

I miss cycling. There are so many people suffering from long Covid like me. I was a healthy 45-year-old, went hiking regularly, cycled to work, went swimming, all of that. It’s a big gap in my life where activities used to be. Kerstin Sailer, 45, professor at UCL, London

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