“Safe Streets Now” day of action comes to Norwich

On Saturday 20th April, Norwich joined over 20 cities around the UK in the “Safe Streets Now” day of action. Peter Silburn reports

Safe Streets Now is a grassroots national campaign to make our streets safe and achieve justice for the victims of road danger everywhere.

Last year in Norfolk seven people lost their lives whilst riding a bike, three of them in Norwich. In six of the seven cases the driver was arrested for dangerous or inconsiderate driving.

The campaign is calling for the government to take bold action to enhance the safety of all road users, to properly protect spaces reserved for the most vulnerable and ensure that we are not forced to share our streets with dangerous drivers.

Safe Streets Now supporters outside City Hall – Photo Stuart Beard

In an open letter to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Safe Streets Now are asking that the government brings forward legislation to make 20mph the default speed limit in built up areas, implement a nationwide ban on pavement parking and allocate 10% of highway spending to infrastructure for walking, wheeling and cycling.

Saturday saw people gather outside Norwich City Hall to show their support for the Safe Streets Now campaign. Action hero Captain SloMo was on hand to demonstrate his superpowers: “Being a hero isn’t all battling supervillains. It’s about fighting for real change in our society which benefits everyone. I’m proud to stand with Safe Streets Now and call for a sustainable, people-focused transport system for Norwich, and indeed the whole UK.”

Captain SloMo outside City Hall – Photo Stuart Beard

The Norwich event was co-ordinated by the Norwich Cycling Campaign, Kidical Mass Norwich and Living Streets Norwich.

Peter Silburn, chair of Norwich Cycling Campaign said: “Cycling is a great way to get about the city. Statistically cycling is a safe activity but it often doesn’t feel that way. People tell us they’d love to cycle but they feel the streets are too dangerous.

“It’s both government and county policy to encourage more people to cycle but this won’t happen without investment in cycle lanes and safer roads. Norfolk County Council needs to do more to make our roads safe for everyone.”

Captain SloMo demonstrates his superpowers – Photo Stuart Beard

Fern Blevins of Kidical Mass Norwich said: “Each death on our roads is an avoidable tragedy. No-one should be killed or seriously injured as they travel around our streets. For two days a year during the Kidical Mass ride children can cycle safely around our city. They should have the freedom to do this every day, like they do in countries like the Netherlands and many others.

Fern Blevins of Kidical Mass Norwich – Photo Fern Blevins

“We want our kids to have the freedom to move around the city in the same way that our parents and grandparents did.”

Lucy Hall from Living Streets Norwich said: “We are angry at the deaths that take place needlessly on our roads every day and have joined with other cities across the UK to ask for action at a national level to restore peace to our streets, and to provide protected space for vulnerable road users.”

Captain SloMo on Constitution Hill – Photo Peter Silburn

On the Friday before Saturday’s event, Captain SloMo was out and about in the city. At the notorious speeding spot on Constitution Hill he was using his 20mph shield to shame drivers into keeping to the speed limit.

Local resident Rich Wilson, whose children attend the nearby school, appreciated the arrival of the action hero: “I think it’s great. I’m not saying Norwich is Gotham City but when the police can’t cope, when you’ve got a dodgy councillor who thinks speeding laws are just advisory – that’s when you need superheroes! Or, failing that, speed cameras.”

Patrolling the streets, all part of a superhero’s day – Photo Peter Silburn

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