By Martin Read
Coinciding with the Space for Cycling debate arranged by the Horsham District Cycling Forum (HDCF), attended by candidates for the local elections, the Government has released its long-awaited Cycling and Walking Strategy. West Sussex has been strongly criticised for lagging far behind other areas of the UK where safe cycling schemes have been introduced, prompting Peter Silburn, Secretary of HDCF to say: “ WSCC needs to actively pursue a strong case for infrastructure investment to benefit from available sources of funding. To highlight the desperate urgency of Horsham’s lack of safe, segregated cycle facilities, shocking video footage has hit the national news.”
The chilling video, showing a cyclist with priority being knocked off a bike at the Harwood Road/Redkiln Way roundabout, was shot by Mike Dearsley and can be viewed at http://road.cc/content/news/221553-video-motorist-drives-cyclist-roundabout-why-segregated-cycle-infrastructure. Fortuitously, the victim suffered no long term physical damage.
Sadly this type of accident is no stranger to Horsham, Mike Dearsley enduring a near miss while riding his bike through the same roundabout. Mark Treasure of the Cycling Embassy of Great Britain describes the roundabout as: “A big, fast mess.” The video has attracted the attention of traffic police across the UK, showing Horsham in poor light, Peter Silburn adding: “I recently witnessed an almost identical collision on the next roundabout near Tesco Express. The lady on her bike was unhurt but it was nevertheless shocking. Do we really have to wait for a fatality before we act?”
Ruth Fletcher, Chair of HDCF says: “Government stats show that more people riding bikes are injured at the Tesco Express roundabout than any other in Horsham, and traffic there is set to increase because it is on the main route between the North Horsham development and the town centre. Yet, there are plans to make the roundabout even faster, increasing the number of “failed to look” collisions, negating the usefulness of high vis clothing. And, we are continuing to build unsafe new roundabouts, like the one at Newbridge where a cyclist had to be airlifted to hospital within weeks of it opening. Better design – forcing drivers to slow down before entering and helping them to spot cyclists – improves safety for all road users. New regulations encourage separate, convenient and safe cycle tracks for children to cycle to school. Huge numbers of people will cycle if they feel safe doing so. Cycling promotes healthier lives, reducing both the pressure on hospitals and congestion and would make Horsham a more attractive place to live, work and shop. But, West Sussex cycle collisions have doubled since 2010 and one in five injured on Horsham’s roads are on bikes. Government figures indicate that the cost of accidents where cyclists are hit in West Sussex runs into £millions.”
With Horsham having to catch up with more safety conscious places, Ruth Fletcher concludes: “We must invest in a network of cycle-friendly routes for people of all ages and abilities. Money is available: we need councillors with the courage and leadership to act.”