Study Finds 'Dread' Caused By Tube Bombings

Scared commuters off the Tube and on to their bikes

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A new study has found that the "dread" caused by the 7th July bombs scared people off the Tube and on to their bikes. The research carried out by Professor Peter Ayton from City University noted that casualty figures amongst cyclists had risen significantly following the terrorist attacks in 2005. He said that he had been unable to identify any other plausible reason for the increase other than what he termed the 'dread risk'.

Professor Ayton analysed travellers' behavioural reaction to the bombings in an attempt to better understand people's judgement of risk. He said, "People dread situations where many people may be harmed or killed at once, and so will avoid these situations. Instead, we'll choose less dreaded but sometimes actually riskier alternatives in which the same or even a greater number of people are likely to be harmed or killed - but over a longer period of time."

London bicycle survey data from 1999 to 2008/9 was analysed to find out whether following the 7/7 attacks people avoided the underground and instead travelled around the city by bicycle. The numbers of passenger journeys on the London underground from 1995 to 2006 was also analysed along with data on the number of cycle casualties and fatalities in the capital from 1995 to 2005.

Analyses of the data showed there was a significant decrease in tube travel and a corresponding increase in cycle travel around London following the 7th July attacks. When compared to the 10 year period prior to the attacks, the second half of 2005 also had significantly more cyclist casualties than would be expected - there were 214 more cyclist casualties in this period than would be predicted from historical trends.

Professor Ayton added,"Our analysis suggest that there was a secondary casualty toll from the 2005 London bombings. The reduced underground travel, higher levels of cycling and increased number of casualties of cyclists on London's roads suggests that some people switched from the underground to cycling, and the psychological dread risk effect may be the explanation for this behaviour."

September 4, 2009