A girl who was taking part in a protest ride to show how unsafe her route to school was has been knocked off her bicycle by an ‘aggressive’ cyclist.
The girl, in Year 8, was hit and then subjected to verbal abuse during the ride with around 50 pupils and parents who were travelling from Stapleford to Sawston Village College at around 8.25am to protest about the council’s cancellation of the free school bus services to the school.
Cambridgeshire County Council only needs to provide the service for journeys of less than three miles if there is no walkable route available, but parents say it is not yet safe to travel on foot.
Stijn van Dongen, a parent who saw the incident, told Cambridge News the cyclist "looked flustered and annoyed with the situation he found himself in" before he "clattered into a girl". He said: "The speed at which he was cycling was far greater than the girl's speed. Both fell to the ground.
"Immediately after picking himself up he started vehemently telling the girl that she was in the wrong side of the path and the cause for this collision. He did not ask how she was. Very clearly she was not at fault. In the bunch-upped traffic there was simply not enough space to go single file."
James Prisk, another parent, said the incident would "demonstrate physically that the route is not really capable of dealing with such numbers of people safely".
He added: "We also want to keep the ball rolling to keep people engaged. It's a very loose campaign, there's no committee and it's mainly been through social media. If something is right then you need to stand up and say so and that is what we have done and will keep on doing."
Tony Orgee, a Conservative county councillor for Sawston said: "The officers have decided the route is safe therefore the free bus service will be withdrawn for those living less than three miles away. I'm going to support parents in their arguments that the route is unsafe."
A spokesman for the council said they would not comment before the appeal hearings on June 16, when the safety arguments will be heard.
Last May, another part of Cambridge debated plans for improved cycling facilities on Hills Road and Huntingdon Road, but councillors expressed concern that the proposed floating bus stops, which allow cyclists to safely pass stationary busses, would be a hazard for pedestrians who would have to cross cycle lanes to board and disembark.
John Williams, Liberal Democrat councillor for Fulbourn, said: “I can’t tell you how often I see cyclists disobeying red lights and not stopping at pedestrians crossings and pelican crossings.
“I don’t have any confidence cyclists will give way to pedestrians moving to the bus stop because of what I see going on in this city with cyclists.
“Unless we make pedestrians the priority at these bus stops, I have serious concerns there will be an accident.”
Williams’ fellow Liberal Democrat, David Jenkins, councillor for Histon, said: “I’m concerned about cyclists’ behaviour. It’s only a small minority, but it’s a significant small minority of kamikaze cyclists in the city and they are intolerant of other road users, and there has to be some way of policing them.
“Simply allowing them to have priority means less confident bus users will be stranded on the island as these guys go past.”
Late last year we reported how one week after a “continental geometry roundabout” designed to protect cyclists opened in Cambridge, a 12-year-old boy was injured when he was knocked off his bike there in a hit-and-run incident. His mother claims the roundabout creates more danger for cyclists than the one it replaced.
The roundabout, which cost £413,000, was officially opened on Wednesday 8 October. It is aimed at improving the safety of cyclists with 16 reported road traffic incidents there, three of them resulting in serious injury, in the five years prior to Cambridgeshire County Council unveiling its plans last year.
Unlike roundabouts in the Netherlands which apparently helped provide the inspiration for it, there is no fully segregated bike lane on the perimeter. Instead, it has a shared use cycle and pedestrian path going around the outside.
After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on road.cc.