Olympian backs safer riding drive

Olympic cyclist Andy Tennant is backing a campaign for safer streets to enable more children to get out and about on bikes and protect those already cycling.

The campaign calls for action to project cyclists in communities across the UK, helping to foster more world-class cyclists, and improve families’ health and happiness.

A survey out today by road safety charity Brake, one of the groups behind the campaign, revealed widespread fear among parents about letting children cycle.

Nine out of ten of the 1,000 people surveyed said they would support 20mph speed limits in their community and 92 per cent would back cycle paths linkiing local facilities.

Seventy-six per cent of parents said they would cycle with their children if they felt roads were safer.

Through their Cycle for Life campaign, Brake and Bolt Burdon Kemp, personal injury solicitors, are calling on the Government and local authorities to promote safe cycling by investing in measures to protect cyclists such as traffic-free and segregated cycle paths and widespread 20mph limits.

They are calling on drivers to pledge to slow down to 20mph in built up areas, take care to look out for cyclists and give them a wide berth to help prevent devastating casualties and enable more people, including children, to cycle safely.

Andy Tennant, British track and road cyclist said: “As a kid I cycled everywhere I could and it helped me to become the athlete I am today.

“That’s why I’m backing Brake’s campaign to make our roads safer for cycling, to help more families get outdoors and get active.

“We need more safe routes for cycling, but drivers can also play a key part in making our streets safer, and help nurture the future of British cycling, by always looking out for cyclists and driving below 20mph around homes and schools.”

Julie Townsend, Brake deputy chief executive, said: “You don’t need to cycle to Olympic standards for it to change your life.

“Cycling makes you feel amazing: you get fitter and spend more time outdoors, and it’s an environmentally-friendly way to get around.

“The best way to encourage cycling, to and protect existing cyclists, is to make it safer through widespread 20mph limits where people live and segregated cycle paths connecting homes and community facilities.

“We need the Government to provide more funding for safety features like these, and we need more local authorities to make safe cycling and walking a priority.

“We’re also appealing to drivers to help make roads safer for young cyclists by pledging to slow down to 20mph in residential and urban areas.”

Cheryl Abrahams, partner at Bolt Burdon Kemp, said: “Cycling is part of childhood and offers fantastic benefits for families to get outdoors and lead healthy, active lifestyles.

“However, having seen first-hand the devastation that road crashes can cause to children and their families, it is understandable that parents fear letting their children cycle.

“That’s why we’re working with Brake on the Cycle for Life campaign.

“We fully support Brake’s calls for more government investment in safe cycling, and for this to be a priority for local authorities, so all families can get out and about for their health and enjoyment.”

In 2011, 107 cyclists were killed on roads in Great Britain, four fewer than in 2010, while cyclist serious injuries rose by 425 (16 per cent) and slight injuries rose by 1,609 (11 per cent).

Cycle traffic increased by just 2.2 per cent in the same period.

The Government recently announced £15m funding to address cycle safety at junctions on top of £15m in announced in March for cycle routes, storage facilities and repair centres.