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Mother of schoolboy left blind in one eye after his bike slipped from shared use path calls for safety improvements

Incident took place next to road in Cambridge where police found three in four drivers break speed limit

The mother of a Cambridge schoolboy left blind in one eye when he was hit by a car after his bicycle slipped off a shared use path close to his school in May last year is urging authorities to make safety improvements to the location where it happened.

Ryan Mackridge was aged 12 when the incident took place on Queen Edith’s Way as he rode home from Netherhall School, reports Cambridge News.

Paramedics revived him at the scene and he spent three days in intensive care at Addenbrooke’s hospital following the incident, in which he suffered fractures to the skull.

Now his mother, Jackie, has called for improvements to be made to prevent similar incidents taking place in the future, saying, “I would hate this to happen to another family – it is devastating.

“Something needs to be done to the path as there are so many children who walk and cycle along there and it is too narrow.

“It needs widening or some railings or bollards need to be put up to keep the children off the road.”

The family’s campaign had the support of local councillor Robert Dryden, who pointed out that the path becomes particularly busy before and after school.

“On the corner we would like to see railings or a barrier of some kind so it would stop children going into the road,” he said.

Mrs Mackridge revealed that following the incident her son, who has returned to school on a part-time basis, no longer rides his bike and now travels by taxi.

However, a Cambridgeshire County Council spokesman told Cambridge News that some of the proposed safety features were inappropriate and unwarranted.

“We wrote to Mrs Mackridge back in September explaining that Queen Edith's Way has an extremely low accident rate and her suggestion of bollards along the kerb was not possible because they would restrict the width of the footpath for people with disabilities and those pushing buggies or prams,” he said.

“We would be happy to speak to Mrs Mackridge again about any other potential changes to the footpath and how any changes, should they be agreed, could be funded, including via third party contributions from the community or other local authorities,” he added.

In 2009, a post by a local blogger highlighted a police report into the issue of cars speeding along Queen Edith’s Way, which has a speed limit of 30mph.

Sergeant Gordon Morgentahler of Cambridgshire Police revealed that on weekdays between 8am and 9am, some 350 cars were observed breaking the speed limit, with 75 per cent of all vehicles exceeding it.

Earlier this month, writing in the Mail on Sunday after he had been knocked off his bike in Oxford, the journalist Peter Hitchens observed that the danger posed by traffic had forced children off the roads when using their bikes.

“I think our roads are statistically safer largely because soft targets, particularly child cyclists, have almost entirely retreated from them,” he ventured. “But the roads are not really safer. It’s just that people have learned to avoid them unless they themselves go out in armour, and have narrowed their lives as a result.”

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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antigee | 12 years ago

where i live kids and some adults choose to cycle on the pavement (its not a shared use path) because the road is a busy commuter route and narrow - problem with this is that vehicles don't slow as the cyclists are no longer perceived as being of any concern - the pavement is narrow and fenced to side heading into fast oncoming traffic means that a slip or error would sadly probably be fatal
agree very much with comments above - lots of locations are seen as safe because accident figures only tell part of the story - when walking and cycling are thought of as dangerous at particular location people simply don't do it

Edgeley | 12 years ago

Peter Hitchens cycles in Oxford. His experience as a cyclist probably just about overcomes his natural instinct to be wrong on everything.

sporran | 12 years ago

Wow, first time I've ever agreed with anything that has come out of Peter Hitchens' mouth!

joemmo | 12 years ago

Mail journalist in "speaking common sense" shocker!

sprintstar | 12 years ago

That makes me mad, look how wide the road is! TAKE SPACE AWAY FROM MOTOR VEHICLES!

velobetty | 12 years ago

It's a very valid point that while casualty figures often decrease it's because road conditions are so poor that pedestrians and cyclists avoid the road because of increased danger. Politicians often cite these statistics to prove that roads are getting safer but in fact in many cases the exact reverse is happening.

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