Support road.cc

Like this site? Help us to make it better.

news

Head teacher of school in Exeter low traffic neighbourhood urges parents to take care after pupil knocked off bike

“Putting the children at risk is not acceptable,” says Neil Williams of Ladysmith Junior School

The head teacher of a school in Exeter has warned parents and carers who drive their children there to take care after a pupil was knocked off their bike.

In a letter sent to parents and carers of pupils at Ladysmith Junior School, head teacher Neil Williams said that “putting the children at risk is not acceptable."

He said that the child was “okay,” but warned that the crash “could have had a worse outcome,” and also revealed in his letter that on Wednesday, a driver who was reversing had “narrowly missed” another pupil.

“Parking and driving in a manner which is putting the children at risk is not acceptable,” he wrote.

The school is located in an area of the city in which an 18-month trial of a low traffic neighbourhood is currently taking place.

Mr Williams acknowledged that the scheme had proved “divisive,” but added that “whilst we recognise this, we are sure that you will agree the safety of our children and families is of paramount importance.

“We have nearly 700 children and parents during drop off and pick up around very narrow and congested roads.

“We understand that it can be difficult to park near the school, but parking and driving in a manner which is putting the children at risk is not acceptable.

“If you do need to drive, please allow yourself extra time to find a safe place to park and walk your child into school.”

The school lies within the Heavitree and Whipton Active Streets scheme introduced last August by Devon County Council, but has attracted protests and vandalism, as well as threats being made against councillors.

Despite that, Exeter’s Highways and Traffic Orders Committee last week resolved to let the 18-month trial run its course during a four-hour meeting that was disrupted at times by opponents of the LTN.

>How to save a Low Traffic Neighbourhood: Overcoming hecklers, “dodgy” data, and political intrigue as councillors prevent early scrapping of active streets trial

Reacting to news of the child being knocked off their bike, a spokesperson for the local authority said: “We hope that they weren't too badly hurt and that they make a full and speedy recovery.

“Fewer parents driving and fewer cars near school gates can go a long way to reducing the issue, and increasing the take-up of active travel to school is one of the goals of the Heavitree and Active Streets Trial and the wider Exeter Transport Strategy.

“We are constantly monitoring the trial and will be in engaging further with schools to give us a better understanding of how the proposals are influencing driver and pedestrian behaviour in the area.

“There will be a further review of the data and feedback at the May Highways and Traffic Orders Committee, which will inform next steps with the scheme,” the spokesperson added.

In April 2021, Ladysmith Federation, which also runs an Infants & Nursery School, partnered with Devon County Council and the sustainable transport charity, Sustrans,

Introducing the initiative, it told parents in a letter: “By removing traffic from the road it can be used safely by families who travel on foot, by bike or scooter to school and provide space for social distancing, especially for parents congregating at pick-up time.

“We encourage all families to leave the car at home where possible. Fewer car trips will help to improve local air quality, encourage more exercise and reduce congestion around the school at peak times.

“We understand some parents rely on the car for their journey. For those who need to travel by car we would encourage you not to drive along Ladysmith Road but to park responsibly and considerately at least a 5 minute walk from the school.”

Simon joined road.cc 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.

Add new comment

25 comments

Avatar
Wheelywheelygood | 2 weeks ago
0 likes

I recently passed  on my m scooter a group of children taking part in cycle training  I could clearly see that not one bike had front or rear lights , it would appear that these children aren't valued enough by their parents to spend the few pounds for lights and reflectors . Yet time after time we see kids out after dark on bikes with no lights ,surely lights should be compulsory 

Avatar
perce replied to Wheelywheelygood | 2 weeks ago
14 likes

I'd stay in if I were you, it's so dangerous out there. Only last week two young scrotes round here had been nabbed by the police - one had been drinking battery acid and the other had been chewing a firework. Found out later they had charged one and let the other one off. I couldn't really say if they are valued enough by their parents.

Avatar
Rendel Harris replied to perce | 2 weeks ago
5 likes

We had a teenage yob round here who was stealing French pigs from a city farm. Can't believe he got away with a cochon.

Avatar
wycombewheeler replied to Wheelywheelygood | 2 weeks ago
5 likes
Wheelywheelygood wrote:

I recently passed  on my m scooter a group of children taking part in cycle training  I could clearly see that not one bike had front or rear lights , it would appear that these children aren't valued enough by their parents to spend the few pounds for lights and reflectors . Yet time after time we see kids out after dark on bikes with no lights ,surely lights should be compulsory 

cycle training after dark? seems unusual.

Avatar
mark1a replied to wycombewheeler | 2 weeks ago
8 likes

That's because it's just a load of delusional bollocks. 

Avatar
Hirsute replied to mark1a | 2 weeks ago
7 likes

And best ignored - it's just piss poor, desperate trolling.

Avatar
Rendel Harris replied to Wheelywheelygood | 2 weeks ago
6 likes

Was this:

A: During the day?

B: After dark?

Answer A, not a problem, Answer B, you're making nonsense up again.

Avatar
mitsky | 2 weeks ago
9 likes

Not forgetting this plonker who drives a school run of 700 METRES... only to cut me up to park on the pavement near parents and children walking to school...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R-dp-G6W8Jk

Avatar
a1white replied to mitsky | 2 weeks ago
5 likes
mitsky wrote:

Not forgetting this plonker who drives a school run of 700 METRES... only to cut me up to park on the pavement near parents and children walking to school...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R-dp-G6W8Jk

WOW! What an example to to give to your kids. incredible

Avatar
wtjs replied to a1white | 2 weeks ago
2 likes

What an example to to give to your kids. incredible

Only too credible, unfortunately.

Avatar
Oldfatgit | 3 weeks ago
11 likes

[snip]

Reacting to news of the child being knocked off their bike, a spokesperson for the local authority said: “We hope that they weren't too badly hurt and that they make a full and speedy recovery.

[snip]

Such an odd turn off phrase ... "weren't too badly hurt" ... So being hurt is fine - skinned knees and elbows, maybe a purple golf ball on the child's forehead, and not to mention the potential  physiological effect - even if kids are more resilient than adults.

But the message from the spokesperson has the subtext of "it's fine to hurt kids by your driving ... just don't do it too badly."
 

Avatar
wycombewheeler replied to Oldfatgit | 2 weeks ago
2 likes
Oldfatgit wrote:

[snip]

Reacting to news of the child being knocked off their bike, a spokesperson for the local authority said: “We hope that they weren't too badly hurt and that they make a full and speedy recovery.

[snip]

Such an odd turn off phrase ... "weren't too badly hurt" ... So being hurt is fine - skinned knees and elbows, maybe a purple golf ball on the child's forehead, and not to mention the potential  physiological effect - even if kids are more resilient than adults.

But the message from the spokesperson has the subtext of "it's fine to hurt kids by your driving ... just don't do it too badly."
 

I'm sure that wasn't the intent. I t was probably more along the lines of A child has been hit by a car, they will not be unhurt, therefore I hope it isn't too bad.

Avatar
cmedred | 3 weeks ago
14 likes

Park "at least" a five-minute walk away? Isn't that asking an awful lot of parents? Five minutes to the school, a minute or two of doddling there at the turnaround, and another five minutes back to the car. That's 11 or 12 minutes. Who can be expected to spend that much time away from their precious motor vehicle? And not only that. If the parents walk they have to make little Johnny or Susie walk, too, and the children might not want to walk. This is the case with many today. Forcing them to walk could be viewed by the driving community as borderline child abuse. 

Avatar
BIRMINGHAMisaDUMP replied to cmedred | 3 weeks ago
14 likes

My thoughts exactly - walk? 5 minutes? You have to be joking? 
When my daughter was at primary school in London, she was at a very popular school and the catchment area was about 500 metres (she just got accepted and we could see the school from our window) Yet, yet - there were still some parents who drove to the school. 

Avatar
Backladder replied to cmedred | 3 weeks ago
11 likes
cmedred wrote:

Park "at least" a five-minute walk away? 

How many would have to drive away from the school to park 5 minutes away?

Avatar
Awerty | 3 weeks ago
21 likes

What isn't mentioned in the article is that the school in question is right next to one of the new bus gates installed as part of the LTN. In the early weeks of the trial, traffic by the school dropped to miniscule amounts, prompting a surge in numbers of kids biking to school. However, in recent weeks it's become apparent that Police aren't making any effort to enforce the bus gate and a significant minority of those opposed to the LTN have begun ignoring the bus gate and using the road again. Hence the situation we have now, traffic levels just as bad as before, but with increased children on bikes in the vicinity.
Many submissions have been made to op snap. But no action appears to be being taken. The police really need to start issuing penalties to those ignoring the bus gate.

Avatar
wtjs replied to Awerty | 2 weeks ago
0 likes

Many submissions have been made to op snap. But no action appears to be being taken

Yep! That's the whole point of OpSnap: getting cases binned with the least possible effort by the police- their last line of defence is 'we were too busy to look at this one'

Avatar
eburtthebike | 3 weeks ago
20 likes

The dominance of cars in our society is extreme, and endlessly reinforced by the media, and even the safety of children is clearly subservient to the great god car.  Social change is difficult, with huge vested interests and people who are addicted to their cars and see any change as a challenge to their right to drive.  It's going to take a long time, and there will be battles won and lost, but we have to keep believing in eventual success.

Avatar
ktache | 3 weeks ago
7 likes

Of course, it being an LTN means that those who drive have an easier time of it and can manoeuvre without worrying so much about other motor vehicles.

Avatar
chrisonabike | 3 weeks ago
8 likes
head teacher Neil Williams wrote:

putting the children at risk is not acceptable

Most would instantly agree.  However that statement clearly needs qualifying to explain things in the UK.

Certainly putting children at risk is highly salient and that engages many* people's emotions very strongly.  However for some time we seem to have been rather static on what we consider safe for children in the built environment / by roads.  Also our response to "child danger" is quite often NOT to eliminate / reduce the source of the danger, but to constrain the children.

This is balanced against our "freedoms" in travel.  Changing the way that people get about is triggering - albeit in a different way.  It seems for a while that this roughly balances the negative of very rare "child hit by vehicle".

The result: all UK kids get less independence in their travel and physical play ** and less convenience getting about when they are allowed to.  (See what an alternative in a similarly developed nation looks like.) In return we all keep the level of motornormativity (speed, directness, convenience of parking, choice of routes / permeability through most places, sufficient safety, paying less than the overall cost of driving ***).

As many have suggested one of the best places to start campaigns for change is around the welfare of children (see also this list of general campaign hints to see where some heffalump traps lie).  It's just more difficult in the UK because we seem to consider that "solved" - or "about right" for most of us - until the worst thing happens...

* Although maybe less as we all live longer / have fewer kids?

** It helps that we've got entertainment boxes and fast remote communication which can make up for this - and normal human tendencies e.g. "why can't you drive me to school today?".

*** See many studies on the total cost including "externalities" of motoring e.g. the one linked here.

Avatar
Car Delenda Est replied to chrisonabike | 3 weeks ago
5 likes

The first layer of The Survivability Onion is "Don't be there" so locking up the children is the most sensible choice.

Avatar
chrisonabike replied to Car Delenda Est | 3 weeks ago
3 likes

Also great training for later life - stay inside, you *have to drive* to get anywhere / engage in adult life, and getting all het up about inconveniences while driving is normal.

Avatar
ymm | 3 weeks ago
16 likes

Great to hear that a school leader, who has central role in community development in the interests of the students, stands up for the principles of child safety when opportunists who oppose safe spaces for school students actively choose to promote practices that would increase child harm in many ways to serve thier own interests. The LA need to listen to those who really believe that children come first not some selfish halfwits who just want to protect their own ability to drive at the expense of others. Children come first, not cars! Get cars away from school gates to improve safety and quality of life.

Avatar
OldRidgeback | 3 weeks ago
4 likes

The head teacher could go one step further and ban parents from dropping off kids in all but a select group of streets surrounding the school. And kids walking or cycling could be encouraged to take a different route avoiding the congestion zone.

Avatar
brooksby | 3 weeks ago
9 likes

"Oh won't somebody think of the children?!", wails parent opposed to the LTN

Latest Comments