Paths are for cyclists

UNFORTUNATELY the Bognor Regis Observer has chosen to ‘sensationalise’ what I considered to be a very valid question to the JWAAC committee (Observer, December 1, page 6). My point was raised when the discussion about the new relief road suggested cycle paths were to be built along Rowan Way. The Observer suggested I was ‘attacking cyclists’ – this simply was not the case.

My question was would it be worth the county council spending thousands of pounds installing a cycle path that may or may not be used; they have already done this on the Chichester Road between North Bersted and Chichester.

I asked if there was any legislation that would force cyclists to use these paths rather than the main trunk road. This is already the case on our motorway network where I’m sure you would agree, cycles would not be the best mode of transport due the sheer amount of traffic and the speeds at which it travels.

Apparently there is no legislation available to do this, which I find staggering. This means cycling is permitted on roads such as the A27, and the A24, both of which are dual carriageways where vehicles may travel at the national speed limit

of 70mph.

I have been riding a bicycle since I was four years old; I still have one now which I regularly use. I am acutely aware of how difficult it can be on the roads where cyclists are regarded as ‘interlopers’. Surely, if there is a safer haven available then it would be sensible to use it?

The Observer also quoted me out of context regarding somebody knocking a cyclist over and it not being their fault because the cyclist was just there. I was not suggesting this at all, but we do live in a litigious society, and with that comes a blame culture. Accidents do happen; it’s a simple fact. Sometimes it is just an unfortunate set of circumstances that combine to make it happen.

However sometimes it is the fault of somebody who has decided to do something that they should not have done. The example I used happened to me very recently. A cyclist was riding in the dark, during a heavy rain storm, with no lights, no reflective jacket, and therefore no way of being seen until the very last minute. If I had been unfortunate enough to have knocked him from his bicycle, then I don’t think any blame could be levelled at me. It really shook me up, because all I could think about was, ‘what if I had knocked him off and killed him?’.

I am not suggesting that all cyclists do this, thankfully it is just a minority. However, it is still extremely dangerous, not to mention illegal. Merely by cycling on the path intended for cyclists which was

less than a metre from where he was, he could have been in a far safer position.

David Edwards

Arun District Councillor (Hotham)