Six people never made it home

Six people have been killed while cycling on Norfolk’s roads so far this year. Campaign chair Peter Silburn offers his thoughts

There have been two cyclists killed in the city so far this year, Ben Steward who was killed on the ring road in February and Jane Blackwell who was killed on Newmarket Road in August.

In addition Dominique Hechanova was killed in Watton back in March and Alfie Brown, a 13-year-old boy, was killed near North Walsham in July.

And we’ve just had the awful news that two more people were killed cycling near Diss. We don’t yet know their names.

Six people killed just trying to get around by bike in Norfolk. That’s a shocking statistic.

Police sign on Newmarket Road following the death of Jane Blackwell – Photo Peter

In five of the six deaths the driver was arrested for dangerous or careless driving, one of which was a hit-and-run. Most drivers are considerate to other road users but there’s a tiny minority who don’t seem to care, who drive aggressively and dangerously, seemingly with impunity.

Cycling itself is not a dangerous activity: the source of the danger is cars. People on bikes need to be protected from this danger.

We know what we need to do to make people safe: on main roads we need protected cycle lanes that actually connect up and take people to the places they want to go to. Not where it’s convenient to fit in a short section of cycle path that doesn’t inconvenience car drivers.

We also need to reduce both the amount and the speed of traffic on urban residential streets. That means 20mph speed limits and measures to stop through traffic. Measures like low traffic neighbourhoods that not only make our streets safer, but also a lot pleasanter with cleaner air and reduced noise and carbon emissions. No-one wants a rat-run past their home.

Norfolk County Council are building some cycle infrastructure but it’s not enough, it often doesn’t meet the national design guidance and it’s not happening fast enough.

Much more needs to be done to protect people who choose to get about by bike.

We all know the Netherlands is the go-to place for the best cycling infrastructure. But it wasn’t always like that. It took outrage at the numbers of children being killed by drivers to force through change.

But let’s look beyond the Netherlands for a moment. Look instead at Paris. Look at New York. Look at Ghent in Belgium.

All places where city leaders have taken bold decisions to change the way their cities work.

To take space away from cars and make it over to people instead.

That’s obviously caused some resistance – all the way up to death threats in some cases! – but all those leaders (Anne Hidalgo in Paris, Michael Bloomberg in New York and Filip Watteeuw in Ghent) were re-elected on increased majorities after making those bold decisions.

Six people going about their lives never made it home. We need bold action from our political leaders in Norfolk to make sure that doesn’t happen again.

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One thought on “Six people never made it home

  1. We also need government action to take dangerous drivers off the road permanently. Drivers should know that dangerous driving could risk them losing their licences permanently or even prison.

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