By Constantinos Psillides
ELEVEN CYCLISTS died as a result of a road accident between 2008 and 2012, according to road safety NGO “REACTION Youth for the Prevention”, which launched on Monday a road safety information campaign focusing on cyclists.
According to a press release, this is the biggest cycling campaign ever launched on the island.
“Beyond any infrastructure issues, the problem with cyclists’ road safety is still in its infancy but must be dealt with before it can grow,” REACTION said.
REACTION’s head, Marios Stavrou, said that besides advising motorists to be on the look out for cyclists, he is also pushing legislation making it mandatory for cyclists to take measures for their own protection.
Stavrou advised cyclists not to use roads after sundown and before sunrise – due to limited visibility – and added that wearing reflective vests and armbands should be made mandatory, especially when it comes to children.
Stavrou pointed out that although wearing a helmet is mandatory in other European countries, in Cyprus no such regulation is in place.
“Wearing a safety helmet reduces serious head injury by 50 per cent,” said Stavrou.
REACTION also presented the findings of a study on cyclist behaviour in Cyprus.
According to the study, the age group with the most cyclists is 26-35 with 42 per cent reporting that they are using a bike.
Limassol has the most cyclists -38 per cent – with the capital Nicosia last since only 10 per cent reporting that they used a bike on a regular basis.
Stavrou attributes this to the fact that other cities are near the coast as “beaches and mountains tend to make more people willing to go on a bike ride”.
Forty per cent of people that took part in the survey said that they don’t use a bike at all while only 8 per cent replied that they regularly use a bike as means of transportation.
The majority of people not using a bike – 32 per cent – cited safety as the main reason they don’t use a bike, 24 per cent said weather conditions – especially high temperatures- put them off cycling, 21 per cent claimed that it was down to the lack of infrastructure and 18 per cent said that “it is too tiresome”.
Almost all who took part in the survey expressed their concern over road safety in urban areas, with 63 per cent saying that they would never use a bike as a means of transportation in the city and 28 per cent answering that they might consider it.
The biggest problems cyclists in Cyprus face, 54 per cent of those taking part in the survey said, is the lack of bike lanes and infrastructure in general.
Not being considered by motorists is the second problem, with 33 per cent reporting that car owners disregard cyclists, while only five per cent reported the lack of comprehensive legislation as a deterrent to use a bike.
A total of 685 individuals took part in the survey which took place from May 20 to June 20.