Rise in cyclists killed and seriously injured on Norfolk’s roads sparks helmet law call

A cyclist in The Avenues, Norwich. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

A cyclist in The Avenues, Norwich. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2015

The number of cyclists being killed or seriously injured on Norfolk's roads has risen, prompting the county's police and crime commissioner to call for a campaign to get more children to wear cycle helmets.

New figures show, in the 12 months up to the end of September, 65 cyclists died or were badly hurt in crashes around the county.

Safety bosses said that was more than double the target which had been set for there to be no more than 30 casualties over that period and reflected a 'sharp increase' in such crashes since November 2014.

The rise was discussed at a meeting of the Norfolk Road Casualty Reduction Partnership Board yesterday, at which Dr Louise Smith, the county's director of public health, expressed her concern that the figures were 'going in the wrong direction'.

And police and crime commissioner Lorne Green said he wanted to see Norfolk lead the way to changing national legislation so it becomes mandatory for children to wear helmets while cycling.

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He said: 'Why, with helmets, are they not mandatory, at least for children? It seems to me to be a no-brainer. I will be pushing for wearing of helmets on a voluntary basis, to see if we can get enough steam behind us with a view of getting national legislation changed.

'We have a justice secretary and a minister for policing in our county, so there are opportunities there.'

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Dave Stephens, team manager for Network Management at Norfolk County Council, said there had been a 'spike' in numbers, primarily in Norwich, which was a consequence of the rise in the number of people cycling.

He said: 'We need to go back to the evidence and figure out what we do to support road users in their skills and attitude.'

Iain Temperton, team manager casualty reduction at Norfolk County Council, said there had been an increase in what he called 'urban cyclists'.

He said that had come about because of the Olympics, people wanting to get fit and saving money by cycling to work.

He said campaigns such as Mind Out For Each Other aimed to encourage road users to be more considerate to each other.

But UKIP county councillor Jonathon Childs, said: 'The people who charge around Norfolk in lycra suits are an absolute menace on the road. They do have a right to be there, but there are the problem.

'Every weekend they are there racing on the roads. If I did that with horses I would be arrested.'

• What do you think? Write, giving full contact details to Letters Editor. Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE or email eveningnewsletters@archant.co.uk

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