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A serious question about cycling in England.

As part of Brexit I may be forced to return to england.
Not something I want for various reasons but other factors dictate I won’t have an option.
This isn’t a political rant, it’s a serious question about cycling in the uk and mental health.
I visit home regularly and I am astounded at the amount of vehicles around and animosity.
Most cycling websites and media all seem to paint the picture of roads are dangerous, killer cyclist vermin minions. Cyclists getting killed left right and centre, no police help, no justice system to protect cyclists against drivers, wasted infrastructure promises and money, and hatred and victimisation from the public (non bike riders), and then on top of that theft, and other related aggravations towards cyclists,
It does not paint a very good picture of the country and I am seriously considering giving up cycling if I have to return, this is mentally not good, lol. Riding a bike is the only thing I truly enjoy and have post cancer.
My question then is this.
What is it like to cycle in England.
dangerous roads? I’ve driven in England, and I’m not sure I want to subject myself to that on a bike.
I am considering switching to cross to be able to keep riding, but then the media also paints a picture of hatred when not on the roads.



  • webboowebboo Posts: 6,057
    I guess if you plan to spend your days cycling round the centre of London, the above might be the case. However get out on to minor country roads and you will wonder what you were worried about.
  • velo73velo73 Posts: 12
    Probably midlands, Northamptonshire area.
  • orraloonorraloon Posts: 12,316
    I am on the borders of Northamptonshire, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire (an easy 3 Counties challenge!). There are many minor lightly trafficed roads; keep away from the ratruns, the crowded A roads. I have many routes I can choose from, without having to feel exposed to undue risk.

    You get an occasional censored but by and large drivers, and horseriders, are ok.

    Don't believe the media spins. See what happened with that 2016 referendum!
  • pblakeneypblakeney Posts: 24,630
    Ignore the press, ignore the media, and find some quiet roads.
    Then reassess.
    The above may be fact, or fiction, I may be serious, I may be jesting.
    I am not sure. You have no chance.
    Veronese68 wrote:
    PB is the most sensible person on here.
  • imposter2.0imposter2.0 Posts: 12,015
    Maybe try Wales..
  • imposter2.0imposter2.0 Posts: 12,015
    or Scotland...
  • joe2019joe2019 Posts: 1,338
    It's nice and quiet around Exmoor
  • wongataawongataa Posts: 1,001
    I find most drivers are ok really. There will always be the odd one who does dangerous things. All you need to do is find quieter roads.
  • As I always say to friends and colleagues who are incredulous that I commute in London (for the reasons you mention above), the press will always focus on the accidents / antagonism / danger. You never see the headline that x thousand people in London cycled to work today and had a perfectly lovely and safe time.
  • velo73velo73 Posts: 12
    I understand what you say, thanks for the replies.
    I guess we will just have to see what the future holds?

  • awaveyawavey Posts: 2,368
    well I dont want to be the Cassandra doomsayer of the group but... :)

    ok point #1 is England is a pretty big place so whatever the media are focussing specifically on regards cycling safety isnt necessarily a blanket wide thing, there are clearly places like that as else they wouldnt be reporting them, but they are pockets,and far outweighed by far more places where you can ride for miles quite happily and have a great time cycling around.

    so point #2 is the note alot of people who have said its fine and perfectly lovely talk about finding quiet roads, and Id agree, I can quickly end up after 10-15miles on roads which for the next couple of hours I might only see a handful of cars if Im lucky, and its great almost like riding on closed roads sometimes, but the "but" is hold on Im not encountering conflict at that point not because drivers are suddenly all sweetness and behaving, its because Im not encountering people (or more likely enough people) with which to cause conflict.

    when I return after my spin around quiet country lanes, back to busy urban sprawls, inevitably theres at least some conflict.

    and whilst I agree the media paints a picture that exaggerates the whole and you shouldnt be overly concerned about cycling around in England for the most part,with the caveat if you can find enough miles of quiet roads, be mindful that you will encounter some conflict, which may be as bad as the stuff youve read, though I still think on the whole those are the exceptions. I worked out I think Ive been riding on the roads for 20ish years now and Ive only had 2 or 3 instances that were as bad as the kind of stuff that gets reported in that time, which doesnt feel like alot, but ymmv
  • I cycle in London most days, and I've had more injuries (2) than I probably would have on the train, but am healthier, and almost certainly catch fewer colds. And am happier.
  • mrfpbmrfpb Posts: 4,569
    If you intend to cycle commute, then there will be issues with rush hour traffic and you'll need sometime to establish a route that suits you.
    Otherwise I'd recommend looking for a local club that does the type of cycling you want to do, when you want to do it. Even if it's just for a few months to get a bit of local knowledge.
  • Especially from March to October when it's light in the mornings, I definitely benefit from commuting from the east side of Southampton to just west of central. The roads are getting busier at 0600/0630, making it less pleasant than it used to be, but the pretty direct route is tolerable. On the way home which can be anything from ~1200 to 1500, I'm much more selective about choosing quieter roads.

    For recreational rides I usually head north east and up into the South Downs hills, the only bits I'm wary of is between home in Bitterne and Horton Heath/ Durley depending on which roads I use heading out or home. Up in the hills it's relative bliss, only really getting busy near A472/A32/A31.
    2020 Voodoo Marasa
    2017 Cube Attain GTC Pro Disc 2016
    2016 Voodoo Wazoo
  • fenixfenix Posts: 5,437
    Where are you coming from ?

    There's millions of cyclists in the UK so it's not as bleak as you may think.
  • velo73velo73 Posts: 12
    I’m Coming from France. Dordogne ish area. Hills and very quiet roads for the bulk park. And lots of sun. Lol
    But even here over the past couple of years I’m noticing how bad car drivers have been getting, and it’s starting to take its toll.
    When I do come back to England I am amazed at the amount of traffic. Just so much,

    I’ve really been toying with the idea of a cross bike just to get away from cars, but that means another new bike. Lol. But returning means money is gonna be tight.

    I’m just afraid if the mental impact of not being able to enjoy riding a bike. Hence the cross.
    Problem is you need a car to get to work generally.
    I found commuting took the enjoyment out of riding for me.

    Thanks again for all the replies.
  • fenixfenix Posts: 5,437
    Well the Dordogne is always going to be quieter than say London.

    Plenty of quieter areas in the UK though. I'd go there.
  • webboowebboo Posts: 6,057
    I’m going to stick my neck out here and say the way you are coming across would suggest that your issues are not just about whether you can ride your bike without being hassled by traffic.
  • orraloonorraloon Posts: 12,316
    webboo said:

    I’m going to stick my neck out here and say the way you are coming across would suggest that your issues are not just about whether you can ride your bike without being hassled by traffic.

    Ooh, do pray continue. All ears etc.
  • Obviously you should know that you don't have to come back to the UK and in fact I wouldn't before you have obtained permanent residency in France, which is in your rights as part of the Brexit divorce package. You have to apply by the end of 2020... if you leave before that, you might never be allowed to live in France again.

    That said, Northamptonshire is rural enough and there are plenty of safe roads to cycle on.
    left the forum March 2023
  • navrig2navrig2 Posts: 1,809
    I agree with Ugo. Don't rush to volunteer to come back, fight for your rights and stay there.

    If you can't then be more selective about where you choose to live. There are plenty of places in the UK where the cycling is very good and when it comes to mental health choosing somewhere which offers less salary but keeps you good the choice is obvious.
  • kingrollokingrollo Posts: 3,198
    wongataa said:

    I find most drivers are ok really. There will always be the odd one who does dangerous things. All you need to do is find quieter roads.

    Most drivers are ok - but there are so many of them it only takes a small % to get feeling like the OP does.
    I live in the midlands - I ride with a club now - thats the best way to get to know some nice routes.
  • kingrollo said:

    I live in the midlands - I ride with a club now - thats the best way to get to know some nice routes.

    It's also the best way to experience road rage... the larger the group on the road, the more likely drivers will get held up, annoyed and eager to take chances.

    I'm not slaying club riding, but in my experience more than 3-4 in the same group and it's going to be trouble

    left the forum March 2023
  • laurentianlaurentian Posts: 2,324
    I live in Northamptonshire and commute daily to work (also in Northamptonshire). Saw 4 cars this morning - none of which forced me into the ditch or shouted abuse at me.

    Weekend rides around the county and mainly neighbouring Leicestershire and Warwickshire is really really easy to find out of the way roads with light traffic

    If you are moving to the county and have a choice where to live, you should choose somewhere conducive to quiet, traffic free cycling - what area are you looking at?
    Wilier Izoard XP
  • wongataawongataa Posts: 1,001
    kingrollo said:

    wongataa said:

    I find most drivers are ok really. There will always be the odd one who does dangerous things. All you need to do is find quieter roads.

    Most drivers are ok - but there are so many of them it only takes a small % to get feeling like the OP does.
    I have been scared when driving my car due to other road users. I have been scared riding my bike due to other road users. Both of these happen very rarely. No-one should let the rare bad situation stop them from doing something that is perfectly fine the vast majority of the time (I know it not always that easy).
  • davep1davep1 Posts: 836
    I live in Sussex , just north of the Downs. I ride on the road, and I ride a hardtail mtb off it.

    It isn't all sweetness and light, but generally it's good. There are close passes when out on the roads, sometimes even quiet rural roads where there really is no excuse or reason to close pass a bike. I lose my rag big time when it happens, but forget about it later. The pleasures of riding a bike far outweigh the idiot behaviour of a few, and it does my head in when I haven't been out for a few days.

    I commute to work too, but not every day. Again, sometime on the roads, sometimes off.
  • thistle_thistle_ Posts: 6,976

    I'm not slaying club riding, but in my experience more than 3-4 in the same group and it's going to be trouble

    Unfortunately that's my experience as well. Even if you're 2 abreast shoulder to shoulder on each other's wheel, taking up less space than most cars you still get people giving you the 3rd degree about not being allowed to ride like that etc. :(

  • The weathers a bit bleak at present. 6 month of wind cold.and rain every year. That what's cycling in the u.k is like. Forget the drivers. It the effing potholes, and bad weather that's the downer or is it an upper.

    Most drivers are fine. Oddly they give more room at night. Night riding is ace.

    Dark cold and windy. That's the way I like it. Come back and enjoy its delights with us.

    Riding around the suffolk lanes is not so bad. It improves mental health but I suppose it helps if your glass is always half full.

    I dont do group rides often anymore but when I do there rarely trouble with drivers. Sleepy suffolk you know.
  • DeVlaeminckDeVlaeminck Posts: 8,687
    It's more the volume of traffic on some roads that would put me off than potential conflict with motorists - unless by conflict you mean a collision. I would think Northamptonshire is mostly fine. What I call fine may not be fine for you though. It does help to have a certain confidence in your right to be on the road.

    Bottom line is you'll probably encounter more traffic than in the Dordogne - if you have an issue with traffic or with motorists that might be an issue but there are plenty who don't find it sufficiently so to stop them riding.
    [Castle Donington Ladies FC - going up in '22]
  • I'm in a similar situation, currently in the Limousin going to the East Midlands for the short school holidays, child care for grandchildren. A change in circumstances in the East Midlands forces a move to UK in the autumn. I have a bike in both countries, best bike in France currently. It saves cost on ferries or tunnel.

    I've found that in France, in general, the drivers tend to give cyclists a bit more space when passing. I have encountered any animosity in (very) rural France.*The reverse in fact, cars and other cyclists often stop to check there's no problem when I've been fixing a puncture. But more surprisingly they've stopped when I've been having a break and enjoying the view. I've even had someone come out of their house to check "ça va?" when I'd stopped for 10 minutes to watch the world go by. In the UK only one person, a lady cyclist stopped when I was pushing the bike. People in the UK seem to be in more of a rush which is the cause of squeezing past, or turning in front of a cyclist. I've been tooted more often in France, but in most cases it's to let me know they're going past on some of the narrow roads round here in France. I do keep off the D951 which is a major trunk roads between Spain and Germany and N147 and aren't dual despite the heavy truck usage, Sunday is a day of rest for lorry drivers so it is only day for RN for me. In this rural area people get to know about cyclists who are a regular sight and there's mutual understanding when there's not much spare room on a narrow road. On the other hand ther's a lot more mud and worse for most of the year.

    * I should say friends and family call me the Puncture King, despite so called puncture resistant tyres, a silicon-rubber tyre liner I was still getting punctures two or three times a year. I carry a traditional pump a CO2 pump with two cartridges, and two spare tubes, and now tubes with sealing gunk.
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