Norwich MP urges road users to observe 'chain of respect' following deaths of two cyclists in city

Police still looking for witnesses in connection with both incidents

by Simon_MacMichael   June 11, 2012  

Broken bike (CC licensed image by garryknight, www.flickr.com)

A Norwich MP who is herself a keen cyclist has urged road users to observe a ‘chain of respect’ following the deaths of two bike riders in the city in recent weeks.

Last Tuesday, an as yet unnamed male cyclist aged in his 40s was killed in an incident in which two cars were involved on the city’s North Walsham Road.

That followed the death last month of 21-year-old warehouse worker Sam Crisp from Sprowston from injuries received when he was struck by a white Vauxhall Astra van at a junction close to his home.

Norfolk Constabulary are appealing for witnesses in connection with both incidents.

Chloe Smith, Conservative MP for Norwich North, wrote on her website after Tuesday’s fatality: “Although we do not yet know the full facts about the tragic accident in Norwich late last night, everyone’s thoughts are with the cyclist’s family and friends.

“Drivers, cyclists and pedestrians must all play their part in respecting other users on the City’s roads. I am urging cyclists to take extra care over their safety on the road. Please make sure you have the necessary safety equipment and seek out basic training if you are unsure of cycling on the roads.”

Ms Smith, who last month took part in the Norfolk 50 ride for the British Heart Foundation, added: “If we can encourage all road users to observe the ‘chain of respect’ I hope we will see fewer tragic accidents like we saw in the City this week. Norwich ought to be a safe, enjoyable place to cycle.”

The MPs comments come as figures are released showing that the number of cyclists killed or seriously injured on the city’s roads have risen in each of the past two years, from seven in 2009/10 to nine in 2010/11 and ten in the year ended 30 April 2012.

Similar to the situation in Cambridge as discussed in a story on road.cc earlier today, Norwich Cycling Campaign pointed out that the increase in cyclists casualties was in part a reflection of the fact that more people are cycling in the city.

Group spokesman Jeff Jordan told the Eastern Daily Press: “These are very small numbers to establish a trend from and a rise of one [cyclist killed or seriously injured] in a year is not a very big rise, but of course every death is absolutely tragic.

“This latest death is really typical of the most dangerous places for cyclists to ride, because it is a main road, it is fast and it is not a very wide road.

“One of the roads we are about to press the council for a cycle route for is a similar road, between the Cromer Road roundabout and the airport park and ride site.”

Alec Byrne, the Chairman of Norfolk's Casualty Reduction Partnership, which comprises Norfolk County Council as well as local emergency and health services, commented: “These recent deaths are tragic and our first thoughts are always with family and friends.

“Over recent months we have seen fewer injuries to people in cars, but this has been offset by a rise in casualties among vulnerable road users such as cyclists,” he continued.

“This may well reflect the number of people changing their modes of travel. It’s important not to overstate this, because the numbers are still small and the majority of people killed or seriously injured are car occupants travelling on rural A and B roads.”

Mr Byrne added that a road safety campaign would be launched across the county later on this year, with the education and training of younger and older drivers and cyclists alike a priority.

 

14 user comments

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Absolutely shocked at these two incidents, it is a pretty rare thing in Norwich as it should be in all areas. Norfolk and Norwich is retry good but this does highlight the fact that the council don't actually increase their development along with the popularity of leisure activities like cycling.

They are also not mentioning their lack of inclusion for cyclists with the development of the Northern Distributor Road which crosses many smaller roads, closes some and even redevelops a major access road closing a main cycle path on the quiet before the plans go to government to be passed as the stipulation was for consideration to all users highlighting cycling as a main area for consultation. My cycle lane to the Broadland Business park has now disappeared from the published cycle routes although it physically exists as it always has, poorly maintained and signposted but quicker and safer than taking to the major dual carriageway or the city roads.

Let's hope this lack of foresight doesn't lead to tragic news like this.

posted by Farky [177 posts]
11th June 2012 - 23:40

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I hope all road users are encouraged to make sure their safety equipment is fully serviceable and used every time they go out to use the road, and remember its limitations.

Check 1) brain,functioning and focussed on the task in hand, not on a phone call, nor running at reduced capacity through tiredness or substances that change its normal performance.

Check 2) eyes - operating to their full capacity to look - especially looking at the eyes of other road users. If eye function is being limited make sure appropriate measures are taken to compensate for this in how you interact with other road users. Normally eyes give you 120 degrees of 2-way communication BUT as your speed rises above 'running speed'(c.30Kph) the field of focus narrows and you need road markings, and other aids to assist your decreasing near field vision.

3) ears the 360 degree back-up system for sight, what you don't see you can often hear and so few road users actually make the correct use of an 'audible warning of approach' yes that means a horn, a bell, or a voice, but used before the crash becomes inevitable. A toot of a horn and a response of raising an arm are the safety check that rail workers use instinctively, to left each other know they are aware of a hazard and taking appropriate action. maybe we should be driving, cycling and walking with a similar protocol.

I'm writing this after reading the notice for a report on a fatal crash between a cyclist and a train in Nottinghamshire. It is likely to be the third such report by RAIB in around 5 years, and with a 100% recording of the fact that every cyclist was riding with an ipod - or equivalent and failed to respond to the rather inescapable noise of an approaching train or tram, and the bells and horns sounding when the cyclist was clearly not looking at them, and continuing to ride out into the position of danger.

Not that drivers can point the finger. Almost without fail all top rated drivers will drive with a window open in all weathers. That added alert has helped me avoid a crash more than once, hearing the tyre or engine noise of that other car or motorbike which just happens to be sitting right in the one place the mirrors cannot show, or the feint sound of a bell or shout in city traffic.

So remember to make the only contact you make with any other road user, eye contact, and use that to the full.

47 years of breaking bikes and still they offer me a 10 year frame warranty!

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posted by A V Lowe [468 posts]
12th June 2012 - 7:05

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Just on that last point AV - I do have my concerns about noise regulations on new vehicles. Engine noise restrictions mean that newer vehicles are far quieter than before, even more so for hybrids and electric cars. In Japan there is a study on accidents involving pedestrians and hybrid cars - the Toyota Prius in particular probably as it is the most common. The team thatproduced the Japanese report suggested that electric cars or hybrids should have noise generators. I know from my experience as a motorcycle rider that drivers do respond to the sound of an engine - there is a saying amongst bikers that loud pipes save lives and my own experience of having a sportsbike with a racing exhaust backs this up. On at least one occasion this saved me from a trip to casualty when a dozy Peugeot driver suddenly realised I was in the process of an overtake that she hadn't noticed because she hadn't looked.

I do see lots of cyclsits wearing earphones while riding and you can't convince me that it's safe. We've had debates about that in here before.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2107 posts]
12th June 2012 - 7:55

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@OR,

A genuine question, not an attempt to restart the earphone/no earphone debate.

Many motorcyclists wear ear buds to reduce the noise while riding, does that not contribute to a similar problem to cyclists wearing earphones?

And cars playing loud music?

I reckon if we are relying on our ears to notify us that a car is about to plough into us from behind then we are in an overly dangerous environment and that should be addressed rather than trusting our lug holes.

posted by Mountainboy [68 posts]
12th June 2012 - 10:36

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Presumably motorcyclists wear them to dampen their own engine sounds? So there's little chance in the first place of hearing anything else on the road the way a cyclist would.

It's not just the traffic behind you either, no matter how much you look behind, danger can come from anywhere and often out of sight - but not out of earshot.

A few years back I was riding on my commute through the Pepys Estate in Deptford, heard some crashing noises ahead and to my left - couldn't see anything, but I slowed because I knew something wasn't right.

A tipper lorry came tearing round the corner, it had just flytipped a load, and the tipping mechanism was still up.

If I'd had the Dead Kennedys or whoever playing on my headphones, even if I'd heard that, I don't it wouldn't have registered as quickly or that I would have been so alert to potential danger.

If I'd maintained my speed, I'd have been right in the lorry's path and there would have been nothing either of us could have done about it.

Traffic is unpredictable, and that incident is a very extreme example of it - there is no way on earth you could anticipate something like that happening, and there's no way I could have reacted if I hadn't heard it.

I still don't wear headphones when I ride.

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posted by Simon_MacMichael [7814 posts]
12th June 2012 - 11:49

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The pivotal word in this for me is "respect" - sadly this is an aspect of modern life that IMHO is sadly diminishing from all facets of life not just road use. Thinking

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posted by bikeandy61 [381 posts]
12th June 2012 - 13:04

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Motorcyclists wear ear-buds to damp out high-frequency wind-noise primarily. Lower-frequency noise, like major components of engine noise, still can get through mostly.

That said, things happen so quickly on a motorcycle on the road, and the spatial resolution from sound is so limited, that your ears are far far less useful on a motorcycle than on a bicycle. If you want to stay alive on the road on a motorcycle, you really really must use your eyes and always give yourself enough time to do so.

On a bicycle, I've found sound and ears are a quite useful safety aid. You get some time to hear vehicles approaching from behind.

posted by Paul J [514 posts]
12th June 2012 - 14:53

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I can't hear very much behind me at 25mph on a bicycle with the wind whistling past my ears and most drivers don't seem to realise this. Like a Spitfire pilot I'm always visually checking my 6. Not sure about AV Lowe's comments on 'top drivers keeping a window open' Having a car window open usually denotes a smoker. Big Grin

The irony is that the ones using sound the most tend to use nothing else. I meet a pedestrian almost every time I'm out on the bike who crosses the road in front of my wheel using their ears alone as a guide to traffic conditions. : |

Silly me. You're probably right....

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posted by MercuryOne [1007 posts]
12th June 2012 - 16:02

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Personally I don't cycle with headphones either, because I value the additonal sensory input.

But the problem with stressing this point is that it tends to shift responsibility onto the victim. At its simplest the question is this: should deaf people be allowed to cycle on the roads? If so, which I imagine we all agree they should, then regulation and enforcement should aim to make it safe to cycle on the roads when deaf. A cyclist shouldn't have to rely on a screech of tyres to warn them and a car driver shouldn't assume "I can tear round this blind corner as I beeped first".

Make the roads safe for deaf child cyclists, and we'll all benefit.

posted by outOfPhase [12 posts]
12th June 2012 - 18:04

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OoP

Spot on!

posted by Mountainboy [68 posts]
12th June 2012 - 20:40

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"But the problem with stressing this point is that it tends to shift responsibility onto the victim"

exactly - the vehicles that come closest and fast i find i haven't heard coming because of wind noise and their approach speed - of course i could fit a mirror and see them coming but what good would this be? (yes i do ride far enough ot to pull in a bit) - the answer is change driver behaviour, reminding cyclists (and pedestrians) that being distracted can kill you is useful but doesn't fix the attitude problem of "i'm coming thru anyway"

posted by antigee [143 posts]
13th June 2012 - 8:00

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Oh Right Chloe. So drivers are running around deliberately killing cyclists from lack of respect? When are people going to understand that unprotected humans actually mingling with heavy moving essential machinery just ain't a good thing to do? Fact is that we have now moved on from the turn of the 20th Century when cars were very few, much slower and generally operated by experts. Now there are over 30 million, and faster too and more importantly an integral part of our economy and no longer a luxury as it was then.

Sorry. Classic illogical cycle clip female brain at work here. Would MPs normally set up such a scenario? If we were starting now, and looking at the problem in today's eyes, especially with the elf'n safety based demands, would we set it up like this? Could a private company suddenly get away with such dangers for its workers? Let's get real people!

Ok give me me hat and coat, I'm off.

Road safety 'experts' are often folk who's CV doesn't cut the mustard.

posted by Sedgepeat [61 posts]
13th June 2012 - 23:07

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And sadly BBC Radio Norfolk is using it to back family calls for a helmet law. Sad

posted by a.jumper [677 posts]
14th June 2012 - 9:20

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I certainly wouldn't feel comfortable litening to music while cycling. You can tell so much from the noise a car makes behind you. I can tell the impatient drivers who have have had to slow suddenly and are about to speed past at the first opportunity. This is especially noticable when approaching roundabouts, where the motorist is rather unsure how he should behave behind a cyclist and revs up to get the problem out the way quickly by overtaking. And of cource one can judge the size of a vehicle without needing to look back.

One piece of standard advice I am starting to ignore, however, is making eye contact with the driver. As people become less respectful and hold true the belief that the "road tax" payer should reign supreme on the roads; I think now it is better not to make eye contact a lot of the time, particualry when having the right of way at junctions. I think this can be intepreted as "it's ok the cyclist has seen me so I can drive on and he'll keep out the way". I just take a glance at the wheels; see which way the are pointing, if they are still turning at all, and make the motorists feel that I am not looking out for him, I'm just ploughing straight ahead.

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posted by bike ie [10 posts]
14th June 2012 - 10:57

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