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Are Norwich's roads becoming safer for cyclists?

PUBLISHED: 06:00 01 February 2019 | UPDATED: 16:57 01 February 2019

George Wallis-Ryder head of sales and marketing at Bicycle Links

George Wallis-Ryder head of sales and marketing at Bicycle Links

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Hopes are rising that the city's roads are becoming safer for cyclists after a sharp drop in the number of accidents involving those on two wheels.

The number of crashes involving cyclists on Norwichs roads has fallen, down from 130 in 2016 to 100 last year leading some to suggest the citys roads could be becoming a safer place for those choosing two wheels over four. Picture: James BassThe number of crashes involving cyclists on Norwichs roads has fallen, down from 130 in 2016 to 100 last year leading some to suggest the citys roads could be becoming a safer place for those choosing two wheels over four. Picture: James Bass

Data from Norfolk Constabulary and the Department for Transport shows that between 2014-2018, 552 cyclists were injured in collisions attended by police on the city’s roads.

But, since 2016, when 130 occured, the overall trend for the number of crashes has fallen to 96 in 2017 and 100 in 2018.

Jeff Jordan, a committee member for the Norwich Cycling Campaign, said he thought the 2016 spike in the number incidents could have been down to am increase in popularity in cycling in the city.

He said: “I don’t think cycling is an unsafe activity, every activity has its risks.

“But the more cyclists you have on the road, the more accidents there are going to be as instead of drivers coming across a cyclist once in a while they are coming across them all the time.

“But recently, the number of cycle lanes in the city has increased and it does encourage motorists to give cyclists the one and a half metres they need.”

John Fisher, Norfolk County Council’s chair of Norwich highways agency committee, said: “It’s reassuring to see an overall decline in the number of crashes involving cyclists, but we are committed to continuing work to make our roads as safe as possible for everyone.

“Since investment of DfT funding in the cycle network began in 2013, there has been a 40pc increase in cycling so the spike in accidents a few years ago could be down to more people travelling by bike, though it also means the percentage of cyclists involved in accidents has come down.”

George Wallis-Smith, 28, head of sales a Bicycle Links CIC, a cycling hub in Norwich said he and his colleagues had noticed increase in the numbers of cyclists in the city, but they also regularly serviced bikes which had been involved in incidents.

He added: “The more people cycling, the more chance there is of incidents and the reporting of incidents.

“On a weekly basis we hear of some sort of bump or crunch, it unfortunately seems to be part of being a cyclist in a built up area.

“No one has any more right to the road than anyone else,” he said.

What cyclists had to say

Volunteers at Bicycle Links CIC, a cycling hub in Norwich reacted to the latest figures.

Tom Brett, 31, a carpenter from Norwich said: “Norwich is a not a bad place to ride, it’s not like London or Cambridge where you have to be assertive about your riding.

“I think if you’re cycling in some of the lanes around Norwich, it’s very easy for people to squeeze past you and that can be quite dangerous so you’re reliant on everyone else.

“All road users need to be responsible, wear high vis and use lights especially at this time of year even during the day,” he said.

Chris Lewis-Smith, 65, who lives Little Melton from where he cycles into Norwich, said: “Generally cycling in Norwich is pretty good because there are so many cyclists in Norwich and drivers seem to be pretty aware. The one thing we do gripe about is the cycle lanes, some are unsafe which is when cyclists ride on the road.”

Mr Lewis who also works as a bike ability instructor for Pushing Ahead which is a Norfolk County Council, Department of Transport funded initiative to promote walking and cycling in Norwich and Great Yarmouth also offered his tips to other cyclists on Norwich’s roads.

He said: “Don’t ride in the gutter, always look behind you before doing any sort of manoeuvre, signal and use lights at night, be seen,” he said.

Allan Bardsley, 66, from Poringland, said: “I cycle pretty regularly in Norwich but the cycling provision is bitty and inconsistent.

“Before I retired I used to commute on my bike and I never felt particularly safe and I now I tend to cycle at times when the traffic is quieter. I think it’s very difficult for people who have to share roads and commute at rush hour.

“I’m a driver as well as a cyclist so I appreciate it from both sides, cars are so good these days it’s very easy to not pay the level of attention you should to other road users,” he said.

Five tips to keep cyclists to safe on the road

1. Cycle safely and follow the Highway Code

Don’t jump red lights, use designated cycle paths and ride positively

2. Make sure you can be seen and heard

Wear reflective clothing, make sure your bike is fitted with lights and use a bell to make sure pedestrians are aware of your presence.

3. Keep your bike roadworthy

Get your bike regularly serviced, make sure brakes work and tires are pumped up

4. Be aware of vehicles

Don’t cycle on the inside which is turning left, always avoid undertaking in any situation.

5. Considering wearing a helmet

In the event of a crash a helmet can prevent life changing injuries.

Five tips for motorists

Two wheels or four wheels the roads are a shared space for everyone, here are five tips to for motorists to help keep cyclists safe.

1. Give cyclists a wide berth

When overtaking give cyclists as much room as you would when overtaking a car

2. Headlights

At night dip your headlights to avoid dazzling cyclists

3. Be mindful of the road conditions

In wet weather, allow cyclists extra room because the road may be slippery

4. Watch out

When turning left watch out for cyclists coming up on the near side of your vehicle.

5. Be aware of cycle lanes and boxes

Look out for designated areas designed for cyclists.

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