Extract from this bike-positive article from the Guardian newspaper:
The trend is clear, with areas popular for cyclists tending to be safer on average, with the differences sometimes significant. Top of the list is traditionally bike-friendly York, where around one in eight commuters cycle to work and 0.1% are badly hurt in accidents each year. Not far down the road, Calderdale, West Yorkshire … is at the other end of the scale. Here, fewer than 1 in 120 commuters use bikes, and those that do face a danger level 15 times higher than in York. …
“We’re also very keen to stress that even the apparently less safe areas aren’t actually unsafe, and that it’s still much better for your health to cycle than not to cycle, wherever you live,” said Chris Peck, the CTC’s policy coordinator. …
“It’s a virtuous circle: people feel safe, they know a lot of people who also cycle and say, ‘it’s OK, get out there. It’s even a pleasant way to get around,'” said Peck. “They’re much more likely to get on a bike if they know, say, a friend or neighbour who cycles.”
…only 2% of all journeys [in the UK] involve a bike. In the Netherlands the equivalent figure is 27%.
Struck by the Dutch success, a group of British MPs has just returned from a fact-finding trip to the country. There, along with reams of information about bike lanes and secure parking, they were let in to a less well-known secret for spurring a national cycling culture: throw out the Lycra and the helmets.
“If you really want to have a lot of people cycling, one thing that people need is to feel safe cycling. It is the perceived safety that is so important,” said Hans Voerknecht from Holland’s Fiets Beraad, or bicycle council.