Fear and Loathing on the Road


Cyclists are experiencing fear and loathing on the road with vehicle drivers sharing the loathing if not the fear. As many as one in five cyclists are experiencing fear for their own safety and only 11% feel joy, according to a new social study.

Specialist cycling insurer Cycleplan has conducted a first of its kind social study, analysing over half a million social media posts (513,132) from both cyclists and drivers, to identify what each considers to be the other’s worst road behaviours. Further inspection of the language used in each post has provided invaluable insight into the emotional state of today’s road users.

Cyclists vs. Drivers: Emotional Responses

Top five emotions of cyclists and drivers on the road:


Emotions by region:
1.    Anger (48,238 posts) 1.    Anger – Highest in East England (44%)


2.    Fear (20,368) 2.   Fear – Highest in Greater London (25%)
3.    Joy (16,731) 3.   Joy – Highest in East Wales (33%)
4.    Sad (12,121) 4.   Sad – North East Scotland (15%)
5.    Disgust (5,978)


5.   Disgust – Greater London (4%)


In addition to fear, Cycleplan has found that over half of today’s road users (53%) are regularly experiencing extreme emotional states of anger towards one another. 12% of posts also expressed sadness and 6% felt disgusted at the experience. The volume of overall posts peaks on a Wednesday, which can be attributed to tensions rising high on ‘hump day’.

Fear and Loathing – Cyclists vs. Drivers: Top 5 Worst Behaviours

Top five worst driver behaviours, according to cyclists:


Top five worst cyclist behaviours, according to motorists:
1.    Speeding drivers (51,146 posts) 1.    Not wearing high visibility gear (44,115)


2.    Bad drivers (47,262) 2.    Wearing headphones whilst riding (42,287)
3.    Hit and run (34,352 posts) 3.    Bad cyclists (41,237)


4.    Parking in a cycling lane / stopping in a cycling box (26,533 posts) 4.    Undertaking / overtaking on the wrong side of the road (23,801)
5.    Driving too close (20,759 posts) 6.    Jumping red lights (8,480)



According to cyclists, speeding drivers cause the most concern for their overall safety, with over 51,000 posts (10%) on this issue. This road behaviour almost certainly has a direct correlation to hit and run incidents, cited as the third worst behaviour amongst drivers by cyclists. Surprisingly, the biggest frustration for drivers is not aimed towards cyclists jumping red lights as you might anticipate, but at the lack of appropriate high-visibility clothing and equipment employed. More than a quarter of drivers posts (27.5%) cite this as a key frustration whilst sharing the roads. This is closely followed by an annoyance at cyclists wearing headphones (26%), presumably unable to hear warning signals provided by drivers.

Further assessment of the survey data demographic highlights that nearly three quarters (76%) of the social media posts were uploaded by a male respondent. In addition, nine out of ten posts (90%) were from persons aged 35 and above.

Switch Fear and Loathing to Mutual Respect

As a result of the social study findings, Olympic cyclist and Cycleplan ambassador Lizzie Deignan feels that “to make the roads a better and safer place for cyclists and drivers alike, we need to remove the blame by each side. The more understanding we all have in sharing the road, the less stressful travelling on them will be. As a driver and a cyclist, it’s equally important that when I’m riding my bike or driving my car, I’m adhering to the Highway Code because it’s not just about my safety, it’s about everybody else’s safety. You have an equal responsibility whether you’re driving or cycling – it’s about mutual respect.

Lizzie provides further insights and advice on how cyclists and drivers can co-habit the road which can be discovered via the Cycleplan website here.

In addition, Lizzie has outlined some vital safety precautions specifically for cyclists.




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