Page last updated at 09:47 GMT, Friday, 27 November 2009

Cycle wars on roads of city

By Inside Out
BBC East

A cyclist
In Cambridge 50% of accidents under 40mph involved cyclists

As more of us try to sharpen up our green credentials we are taking to two wheels in our droves.

But the relationship between two wheels and four remains an unhappy one.

Some car drivers consider cyclists a nuisance and some have even coined a term for it - "cyclism".

Police figures show that last year in Cambridge 50% of all reported road accidents under 40mph involved cyclists - a total of 205 bike riders.

Jim Chisholm who works for Cambridge University, has been using his bike for 25 years to commute.

He said: "Cyclism is a bit like racism against cyclists.

Dangerous riding

"It's people who seem to be out and out against cyclists. They think there shouldn't be cyclists on the roads, or that the whole world would be better off without cyclists.

"They think cyclists should pay road tax, it's that sort of mentality from a minority of people."

The view from four wheels is different. Craig Chapman, a van driver who makes deliveries around Cambridge every day, said he often encountered dangerous riding from cyclists.

He said: "Cyclists need to be aware of the roads around them, signals, that kind of stuff.

You hear a lot said about safety in numbers, but I think that the more relevant thing is that the more drivers who cycle the safer it is
Jim Chisholm, cyclist

"I think more cycling proficiency would be better for them. Maybe even some sort of test so that people are more aware."

Some cyclists have even filmed their own near mishaps on the road. Footage shows drivers cutting up riders and getting dangerously close.

But cyclists can also be seen breaking the highway code, jumping red lights ignoring one way signs and cycling on the footpath.

Cambridgeshire has twice the national average of accidents involving cyclists, but you might expect that, as more people ride their bikes in the county.

Cyclist Jim Chisholm said there were lessons to be learned from countries like Denmark, where many more people cycle but accident rates are much lower.

He said: "The thing about Denmark is that even more people cycle, so you get more cyclists than drivers.

"You hear a lot said about safety in numbers, but I think that the more relevant thing is that the more drivers who cycle the safer it is.

"In Denmark 60-70% of drivers cycle, so the chances of being involved in an accident (as a cyclist) are much lower."

The Inside Out programme will be broadcast on BBC1 at 1930 BST on Monday 30 November

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