Cheltenham schoolgirl takes bike lane fight to MP

Historic city 'dangerous' for cyclists

by Tom Henry   July 14, 2009  

sara lavelle.JPG

A Cheltenham Ladies’ College student is to hand over a petition to an MP calling for better cycling facilities in the town.

Sara Lavelle, 13, will hand over the petition containing more than 600 signatures to Martin Horwood, the Liberal Democrat Shadow Minister for the Environment and Rural Affairs, at his constituency office on Wednesday (July 15)

Sara, of Chedworth, who launched the campaign with friend Yin Ting Lau, 14, said:
“I find it impossible to cycle around Cheltenham because the roads are that dangerous I am terrified I am going to die or be injured.

“I’ve had cars come so close I’ve skimmed the kerb and nearly fallen off, huge lorries pull up inches behind or pass almost touching me and I’ve frequently had to brake to avoid a collision.

“I’ve been so scared at times I’ve gone onto a few pavements but have been shouted at, so there is literally nowhere to cycle - which is why we started the petition.”

Sara and Yin Ting are campaigning for a continuously-linked cycle route across and around the city, making use of wider pavements where possible and installing cycle lanes elsewhere.

Cheltenham Ladies’ College, Principal Vicky Tuck said: “I whole-heartedly support Sara’s campaign. It’s important that cyclists feel safe so that more people feel encouraged to use this mode of transport.’

Sara’s father, environmentalist and polar explorer Paul Lavelle, added: “Everyone should be able to cycle safely without fear of losing life or injury and I hope this petition makes a difference.

“It’s ridiculous that we are encouraging people to get out of polluting cars and onto bikes when it’s simply too risky.”

Mr Horwood has already criticised the maintenance of Cheltenham’s roads and branded them a danger to cyclists because of a lack of routes and too many potholes.

He said: “All of us should be getting on our bikes more. It’s good for us and good for the planet. But that’s difficult if you feel as though you’re taking your life in your hands every time you cycle on the roads. That then means some cyclists take to the pavements which is threatening for pedestrians.

“We need more and better cycle lanes across the country and particularly in Cheltenham. I want to congratulate Sara, Yin Ting and everyone who has signed this petition. They are absolutely right and I will raise this with the County Council the next time I meet them.”