More needs to be done to make Ipswich roads safe for cyclists

More needs to be done to keep cyclists safe in Ipswich

More needs to be done to keep cyclists safe in Ipswich - Credit: citizenside.com

More action is needed to making cycling in Ipswich safe and accessible.

That is the view of one campaigner as new figures reveal the number of road traffic collisions involving cyclists in the town is rising, reaching a four-year high in 2014.

Cycle Ipswich member Shaun McDonald said increasing levels of motor traffic, more people cycling and lack of infrastructure were some of the reasons for the soar in collisions.

Since 2011 to July 9 this year, there have been 313 crashes between vehicles and bicycles on Ipswich roads, and 225 were at a junction, exit or roundabout.

“That’s where it is more dangerous,” Mr McDonald added. “Where a cycle route gets put in, quite often the main stretches of the road will be fine but the junctions will almost be forgotten about or it will be quite a haphazard design.”

Mr McDonald, 28, said in some areas of Ipswich, like the cluster of junctions and traffic lights near Sainsbury’s at the end of London Road, cyclists were faced with a number of waiting points that caused frustration for faster riders and pushed some less experienced cyclists to take risks.

“What’s really needed is to have one bit of infrastructure that caters for all abilities of cyclist and without that you are not going to get any significant increase in cycling or significant decrease in the level of collisions,” he added.

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There needs to be a continuity of facilities throughout the town, Mr McDonald said, as it was sometimes unclear where cycle lanes start and where they end.

The statistics, which were released under Freedom of Information laws, show that only 59 of the 313 cyclists that were involved in collisions in the five-year period were women.

Noelle Peacock runs a cycling training business for women in Ipswich called Pink Sky Cycling, which teaches women how to be more confident cyclists.

“I actually think it’s more important to have cycle training and be a confident cyclist than change the infrastructure,” she said.

Ms Peacock said most women were not as “assertive” and tended to cycle in the gutter where car drivers would try and squeeze past and risked clipping the rider.

“I teach women to ride one metre from the kerb, where you are treated as another vehicle,” she added.

“It takes confidence and I think that’s the most important thing to have on the road and I think everyone should invest in a course of cycling tuition.”

In 2011, 68 cyclists were involved in road traffic collisions in Ipswich; in 2012, 64; in 2013, 79; in 2014, 80 and there have been 22 this year up until July 9.

None of the collisions were fatal for the cyclists, however 45 were deemed as “serious” and the rest as “slight”.

Sergeant Scott Lee-Amies, of the Roads Policing and Firearms Operations Unit, said there had been a growth in the number of cyclists on Suffolk’s roads following the successes of the Olympics and Tour de France.

“However, this in turn has led to an increase in cycle casualties,” Sgt Lee-Amies added.

“These collisions cannot be put solely down to either cyclists or motorists so we want to encourage all parties to look out for each other and stay safe on the roads. Cyclists need to be visible, wear bright clothing, use lights and reflectors and wear a cycle helmet.

“At the same time drivers need to look for cyclists and other vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and motorcyclists. Distractions inside vehicles, such as stereos or mobile phones – the latter of which is one of the ‘fatal four’ - mean that some drivers are not always aware of everything and everyone around them.”

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