Personal safety on cycles?

This article was published in 2001, in Newsletter 34.

At a recent monthly Campaign meeting the subject of personal safety was discussed. I would like to make some comments and put the matter in perspective.

When cycling, some people feel vulnerable, especially in the dark and, especially, on routes away from the public eye. There are things we can all do to reduce these threats. Please can everyone report things like the following:

  • Failed street lights, or locations that lack suitable lighting.
  • Overgrown hedges or other things that cause dark or blind spots on routes.
  • Poor surfaces, such that it is not possible to cycle at a reasonable speed and keep an eye on the space ahead.
Image as described adjacent
Baskets: contents may be a target for robbers

As individuals, we can reduce risk by:

  • fitting and maintaining good bicycle lights, so that you can be seen, as well as seeing well yourself
  • keeping your cycle well maintained to reduce the risk of breakdowns
  • encouraging others to cycle, so that there are fewer deserted spots
  • not carrying valuable items that are easily visible. There have been a number of occasions when handbags have been snatched from front baskets, some even being stolen by people on cycles!

Everyone’s assessment of risk is different, and risk cannot be eliminated, but it is important to put things into perspective:

  • Most muggings are on young men under 23.
  • You are ten times more likely to extend your life by cycling than to shorten it.
  • More cycling and walking makes crime less likely.

Some people will never be happy cycling alone, or in the dark, but the risks are not as high as might appear from reading some sections of the press. Although incidents do occur, I consider that ‘Stranger Danger’ is a phenomenon promoted by tabloid press because it sells papers. Perhaps others have a contrary opinion?

Jim Chisholm

To tell the County Council about street lighting and traffic signal faults, report town, street, and post number to phone 0800 25 35 29 or e-mail

For poor surfaces and overgrown foliage phone (01223) 458260 or use our postcard for reports – on the Web at or ask for some real postcards by post to the Campaign.