THE world of cycling was stunned when Tour de France-winning cyclist Bradley Wiggins and his coach Shane Sutton were both knocked off their bikes in separate accidents within the space of 15 hours. The news sparked a national debate about the safety of cyclists on Britain’s roads. Dave Comeau sought the views of figures from Crawley with differing viewpoints on how cycling can be made safer in the town.
MY VIEW: Peter Smith is the Cyclists' Touring Club Right To Ride campaigner for Crawley, and a councillor for Ifield
CRAWLEY is naturally a very good place to cycle, being both compact and fairly flat – it takes a maximum of 15 minutes to get to the town centre from any neighbourhood.
This is good news for the increasing number of people who wish to exercise more, improve their health, save money and help reduce congestion and CO2 emissions.
So what can be done to enable people to do this? Well, firstly, we need to show a lot more courtesy and tolerance towards each other. We do not have special rights or powers over others, just because we are driving a car.
Similarly, cyclists should show respect and consideration for pedestrians when using shared paths and vice versa. And no road users should go through red lights, of course.
Crawley's local authorities have to catch up with the changing thinking that is taking place in our society and recognise that our environment should not continue to be ruled by the car.
We need to move to a model that puts people first by providing safe and friendly spaces for people to walk or cycle, as well as drive. The best and cheapest way to start to do this would be to introduce a consistent 30mph limit on all roads, except A roads, within the borough boundaries, with a lower 20mph limit on all residential roads.
This has already been done successfully in Portsmouth, Chichester and Worthing.
We need to work with West Sussex County Council, the highway authority, to improve the design of our road network to better support cycling and walking.
Without doubt, there are many sub-standard cycle "facilities" in Crawley, built using redundant design criteria and usually on the cheap, reflecting the low priority and lack of importance given to cycling by WSCC.
So how do we get them sorted out and made suitable for Dutch levels of usage? Well, firstly by having an audit of the main arterial routes between the neighbourhoods and the key destinations like the town centre, Manor Royal, Gatwick, K2, etc. Once this is done, key elements of the cycle routes will need to be upgraded to modern designs.
But mostly we need the political will and desire to make this happen. There are signs of this change starting in Crawley Borough Council, but West Sussex County Council has a long way to go.
So residents please talk to your councillors, especially at election time. Working together, it will be possible to bring about change for the better, for the benefit of all residents of Crawley.
MY VIEW: Three Bridges resident Brian Armstrong has been leading calls for more police action against illegal cycling on footpaths in Crawley
I THINK most cyclists know where the cycle paths are, but footpaths are probably a shortcut. Sometimes I think I would be safer to walk in the road, and I have seen people doing this.
The police do have a hard job to do and they do have their priorities, but all crime or wrongdoing needs to be looked at.
Yes, the cycle problem is countrywide, but why not start to sort the problem out in Crawley? Perhaps it will rub off on the rest of the country.
A PCSO in Northgate has tried putting notices up on posts – great – but now you can see that they are being torn down one at a time.
I stop a lot of people and tell them they are breaking the law on footpath cycling. I do get a lot of verbal abuse because they know I'm telling the truth.
There are a lot of people who won't walk to certain shops because they are frightened of being knocked down - and if they are an older person they know it would take longer to get better.
I had cause to stop a chap the other day and point out to him that the cycle path was across the road.
His answer to me was "I work for a well-known cycle company, and I don't care because the police won't do anything".
He said I could have his name and address if I wanted it, so I wrote it down and informed the police.
The police have since paid him a home visit and I am sorry to say he has lost his job. I hope he gets another job soon.
I read about Bradley Wiggins being knocked off his bike by a motorist.
That might make more cyclists come on to the footpaths.
We mustn't let motorists take over the roads, it is safer on the roads for cyclists if they are in numbers. If old ladies and gents can cycle on the roads, why can't big butch blokes do the same?
I also think cyclists should have to take out some form of insurance. As Bradley says: proper clothing, lights and brakes all round. And don't forget the bell and helmet.
I dropped a question to Chief Inspector Steve Curry about the cycle problem. He said he would have a crackdown. Steve has now left Crawley for Lewes, but I hope the incoming Justina Beeken carries on the good work that Steve started.
So come on all you cyclists – keep to the roads and cycle paths and stick to the letter of the law and you won't have pedestrians moaning at you.