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Stewart WhiteToday I added my support to The Times newspaper’s Cities Fit for Cycling campaign. The campaign is a result of a horrific accident involving Times journalist, Mary Bowers a year ago when she was seriously injured by a heavy goods vehicle while cycling to work. Mary’s life now is unrecognisable. She was in a coma following the accident and a year on, remains in hospital in a rehabilitation unit where doctors have described her condition as ‘minimally conscious’.

Her work colleagues are now promoting a campaign to make cities safer for cycling.   The Campaign’s Manifesto is simple and includes proposals such as lorries using city centres being required by law to have sensors fitted, extra mirrors and safety bars to prevent cyclists being thrown under the wheels. It also advocates identifying accident hotspots at junctions and implementing safety improvements at these as well as additional training and lower speed limits near cycle lanes in residential areas among others.

Mary’s accident serves as a reminder as to how vulnerable cyclists are on Britain’s roads. This year, 101 cyclists have died, a figure which is way too high, in fact it is 101 too many!

These days with ever increasing casualty rates, spiralling petrol prices, decline in car use, child obesity, and crushing congestion I wish the Government would grab the bull by the horns to create a positive legacy to change the nations’ psyche where cyclists are concerned. I would argue that provisions for cyclists must be a part of any new road development. The Government should look at existing roads and what provisions could be made to improve them.

I also think further discussion needs to be had on making the provision of helmets legal because there are varying arguments on both sides about the extent to which helmets prevent injury at certain speeds and also, would making the wearing of helmets legal, put people off from jumping on a bike say for example, Boris Bikes in London which has been successful in promoting bicycle use the capital. 

The work of Kaya Burgess who is leading the Cities Fit for Cycling Campaign is commendable and I would encourage you to support it. Unfortunately, Mary is unlikely to make a full recovery from her injuries and the driver who caused her injuries faces a maximum of two years imprisonment as well as a woeful 12 month ban from driving.    

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