Suffolk: Campaigner makes rural bike safety plea
A CAMPAIGNER is calling for changes to get more people out on their bikes on the county’s rural roads.
Nicholas Crane, vice-president of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), made the call as MPs hold an inquiry to “Get Britain Cycling”.
He believes rural regions are at risk of being left behind. He added: “From the age of 10, my parents were happy to let me go off and explore the countryside by bicycle.
“Yet in rural areas nowadays many B roads are not safe for bicycles, while riding on A roads can mean dicing with death.
“While we are good at building new dual carriageways, when it comes to cycle paths we are 20 years behind countries like Germany and the Netherlands.
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“It’s time we changed gear and set out a bright new future for rural cycling.”
CPRE is asking MPs to lobby the Government for action in three key areas – sharing minor rural roads with campaigns to encourage drivers to respect other road users, retrofit safe routes along busy roads and promote neighbourhood level action by introducing electric bike pools, community speedwatch and parish travel plans.
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Joseph Young, project co-ordinator for Cycle Suffolk, welcomed the call.
He said: “There is a real difference in cycling in towns and out on rural roads.
“On A roads you have cars flying past your shoulder at 60mph, but Suffolk has an abundance of minor roads and B roads which have cycle routes on them.”
Mr Young said part of Cycle Suffolk involves visiting villages and working with communities to get people out on their bikes, and organising group bike rides with leaders worrying about traffic and direction to enable the cyclists to just pedal and become confident.
Ralph Smyth, CPRE’s senior transport campaigner, said: “Cycling will never be an answer for all travel in rural areas. But it’s great for shorter journeys, such as to a village shop or school.
“And for longer journeys, it can fill the missing link, such as a way to get to a train station.
“All we need now is ambition and joined-up action to put the pieces together.”