I was saddened to read the following statistic from Sustrans this week: ‘In 2012, the number of children killed while walking or cycling on our roads was equivalent to over one primary school class, and the equivalent of over seven whole primary schools were seriously injured. Road danger is the biggest cause of preventable death and injury among children.’
No wonder, then, that despite most children living within walking or cycling distance of their school, less than half walk and far fewer cycle. This is having an impact on their health, as this lack of activity, could mean that this is the first generation of children who live shorter lives than their parents through inactivity.
Sustrans wants to change this by getting our children active and healthy – starting with the school run – with their Campaign for Safer Streets. They are putting pressure on MPs and local councils to get:
• Dedicated funding – provides the resources needed to transform routes and invest in walking and cycling at the local level.
• 20mph default speed limit across built up areas – makes everyone’s route safer;
• Stronger duties and incentives on Local Authorities to develop routes and promote walking and cycling.
In my local area of Ham, Richmond and North Kingston we are incredibly poorly served by bicycle lanes, safe or otherwise, roads are pot-holed and congestion creates poor air quality for cyclists and pedestrians alike. As a cyclist myself with two children, cycling around here is only made bearable by Richmond Park and the tow path along the Thames. However, the latter is in a shocking state and needs improving to provide a safer, more comfortable and appealing ride.
And, just imagine if cyclists were forced to cycle on Richmond Road in Petersham. How many accidents do you think there would be? The lack of public transport to Ham itself means this area is crying out for better cycling provision, and yet, where is it? Practically non-existent. A cycle lane along Ham Common and up to Ham Street towards Grey Court would be a start. Or even better, put cycle paths around the edges of Ham Common, so cyclists are kept apart from traffic altogether. These could then link with Ham Avenue so it’s easy to get to the tow path. A cycle lane from Kingston that doesn’t end at the crossroads of Tudor Drive and Richmond Road is essential, too. As is a cycle lane up Tudor Drive itself. Given the widths of the pavement along this road, couldn’t it be shared with pedestrians, like the one that is part way along Richmond Road just near the Hawker Centre.
For more information about the campaign go here: http://www.sustrans.org.uk/safetoschool, where it helps you to email your MP about their support. For information on local pressure groups go to Richmond Cycling Campaign and Kingston Cycling Campaign.