Thorpe Marriott woman backing campaign to improve safety on our roads
A sharp rise in the number of motorcyclists killed or seriously injured in Norfolk since the beginning of January has prompted new steps from Norfolk County Council and Norfolk Constabulary to help riders stay safe on the county's roads.
A young woman who was devastated after her father was killed in a motorbike crash is backing a new campaign to improve safety on our roads.
Cara Zagni, 21, spoke out as new figures revealed a steep rise in motorcyclist deaths and serious injuries on Norfolk's roads so far this year.
The two-pronged campaign aims to make car drivers more aware of motorcyclists and also to get bikers better trained.
The raft of measures introduced by Norfolk County Council, with the support of the police, includes free motorcycle skill downloads, to encourage motorcyclists to improve their riding.
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The council has also relaunched the 'Think Bike' campaign across Norfolk to remind other motorists to be especially aware of those travelling on two wheels.
The new initiatives are supported by Miss Zagni, of Thorpe Marriott, who lost her father in a motorcycle crash two years ago and was influenced to choose a career in nursing as a result.
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Gino Zagni, 44, from Kiln Road, Horsford, died in hospital on April 8, 2010, four days after being involved in a road crash on the B1149 Holt road near his home.
Miss Zagni said: 'I'm hoping my involvement will help make more bikers aware of what can happen and the impact it may have. I would not wish anyone to have to go through what my family and I have had to.
'The downloads are a really good idea. The more people know, the better and the safer they will be.
'It's important to make as many bikers as possible aware of the Hugger downloads and courses available.
'Even just looking at the downloads available online may make them think more about what they are doing when riding. If a rider hasn't taken part in any training since their tests, it can increase their awareness and safety. I would urge people to get involved with all of the training on offer from the county council and police.'
Norfolk County Council was moved to action following the death of two motorcyclists in crashes, from the beginning of January to mid-March this year, compared to none from the same period last year.
Robert Winner, 25, from Sporle, died from injuries he suffered in a crash on the A1065 Swaffham to Fakenham road in Weasenham on January 20.
And another 25-year-old motorcyclist Tony Webb, of Great Yarmouth, died in a crash on the Acle Straight on March 26.
Motorcyclist Matthew Mallett, 41, of Terrington St Clement, near King's Lynn, has since died on the A47 at Wendling, near Dereham, on April 5.
The figures showed that 21 motorcyclists were seriously injured, from the beginning of January to mid-March this year, compared to 10 from last year, and 33 suffered slight injuries compared to 45 before.
Andy Micklethwaite, Norfolk County Council's road safety officer for motorcycles, said there was no pattern to the deaths, and the accidents occurred across the county.
He said: 'There are fine margins in whether a motorcyclist escapes from an accident relatively lightly, or is seriously injured or killed.
'There was always the risk that a strong rise in slight injury crashes would lead to more serious injuries or fatalities - although some of the difference may be explained by the severe pre-Christmas weather which kept bikes off the road in 2010, whereas they continued to be ridden in 2011.'
The campaign is also being backed by father-of-two Mark Bailey, of Hellesdon, who has become firmly convinced of the value of training, and the need for fellow motorcyclists to face up to the uncomfortable truth that many accidents are down to the rider.
After passing his test, he went on the Bike Safe scheme, and said: 'The meagre �30 I spent on this course was the single best investment in my personal safety.'
Since then, he has continued to use courses to develop his roadcraft and bike control skills, and with it his confidence and safety on the road.
'It saddens me whenever I hear reports of yet another casualty involving a motorcycle incident. Could it have been prevented? Most probably yes. And maybe with the skills and awareness that these courses and downloads can provide, other riders can stay off the statistics list,' he said.
Alec Byrne, Chairman of Norfolk Casualty Reduction Partnership, said the training on offer could help reduce the toll on the roads.
He said: 'We hope these free downloads will encourage motorcyclists to take the next step and join one of these courses, honing their roadcraft and control skills with the help of the experts.'
The rise in crash injuries was raised at the Norfolk Riders' Forum meeting at County Hall, Norwich, last night, which was attended by dealers, trainers, insurance industry representatives, Driving Standards Agency, Motorcycle Action Group (MAG), Institute of Advanced Motorists, local riders and others.
'Hugger Rider Skills Downloads' are available on www.think.norfolk.gov.uk.
Details of all the courses can be found on www.think.norfolk.gov.uk or call Andy Micklethwaite on 01603 638115 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.