YP Letters: A mother's plea. Please can my son cycle to and from school without risking his life

From: Sharon Gladish, Harrogate.

Will safe cycling be the legacy of next year's World Championships in Yorkshire?

IT is fantastic to hear that Harrogate continues to cement its reputation as the ultimate host town for major international cycling events.

We should feel rightly proud of our town and the people that have made this happen.

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My whole family are looking forward to being part of this event.

What can be done to promote and enhance cycle safety for riders of all ages and abilities?

However I think it is important to challenge the plan for legacy investment and how it will impact our town’s ambition to increase cycling as part of a sustainable transport strategy.

The legacy plan mentioned is to invest £15m in cycling centres across the country to encourage participation in the activity.

This is not what is needed to increase safe cycling in Harrogate; what is needed are safe and accessible cycling routes for all ages that enable people to safely undertake cross-town journeys by bike.

Data shows that participation in cycling in Yorkshire has increased dramatically since the Tour de France, as has the number of accidents and deaths involving cyclists on Yorkshire’s roads.

As an example, my 12-year-old son does not need any more encouragement to use his bike; he has taken cycling proficiency training and is really keen to cycle to and from school, a distance of less than two miles.

My husband and I have trialled the journey with him and can see that it is not safe and that the risk of an accident with a vehicle is too great for us to allow him to do this every day on the road.

We do not think it is right to encourage him to illegally cycle on pavements.

My husband is an experienced and careful road cyclist and has, in the past year, had two near-miss incidents with cars.

We personally know of two other regular, adult cyclists who have had very serious accidents in the past 12 months on Harrogate roads, and I am sure there are actually very many more. We face a dilemma of not allowing our son to undertake a healthy activity or risking his safety on our roads.

What would help would be cycle paths along side the main roads, priority at junctions, and well placed signs that raise the awareness of drivers to look out for cyclists when pulling out of side roads.

So come on Harrogate and North Yorkshire Council, let’s all put more effort into thinking about how to design and fund safe cycle routes across our road/pavement network and make Harrogate not only the ultimate host town, but also the safest place to cycle in the country.

It is possible.