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Bike Day “eye opening” for student cyclists

The Sussex Safer Roads Partnership held a cycling safety day on 17 October at the University of Sussex campus, with the aim of educating road users, increasing bike awareness and trying to reduce the number of casualties and fatalities on the city’s roads.

Students were able to take advantage of expert advice from representatives of Brighton & Hove Buses, Sussex Police, Brighton and Hove City Council and the East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service, and take part in a number of cycle-safety activities.

This included the chance to be a bendy bus driver and experience the blind spots that make cyclists invisible, learn about road awareness and positioning from Sussex Fire and Rescue crews, and talk about road safety initiatives and campaigns with the City Council’s road safety team.

90 cyclists died or were seriously injured on Brighton’s roads in the three year gap between 1 January 2009 and 31 December 2011.

Ken Moore, an East Sussex Fire and Rescue fire fighter based in Hove, commented that: “Cyclists are very vulnerable, as they are pretty much invisible. It is important that cyclists think about where they are in relation to other vehicles.”

Often injuries sustained by cyclists are due to accidents involving other vehicles, and in 63% of cases collisions occur with cars on the road.

Moore also stressed the need for cyclists to wear helmets and high visibility clothing “especially as there are now more hours of darkness and rain to contend with.”

Brighton and Hove City Council were offering free high visibility items to all cyclists who attended the event.

In previous years the event has taken place at The Level or in the town centre, but in part due to the high number of students who cycle onto campus, and also because of the extensive refurbishment being undertaken at The Level, the awareness event was moved onto campus this year.

The end was highly successful, with the bendy bus and fire service seeing a constant stream of cyclists and other road users.

Cat Gough, a second year history student said: “The event was vitally important, and eye-opening. Until I sat in the driver’s seat of the bus I didn’t realise that when I cycle I am sometimes completely invisible to the driver, due to the bus’ blind spots. Now I will feel a lot more confident on the roads.

Kim Williams and Darren Tasker, driving instructors from Brighton & Hove Buses, both stressed the importance of cyclists becoming more aware of everything around them on the road, including other cyclists and larger vehicles such as cars and buses.

“We need to educate drivers and cyclists to become more road aware. We want cyclists to be seen, and to understand how to best stay safe on the roads.

Brighton and Hove City Council are currently running an extensive road safety campaign, through radio adverts on Juice FM,  events such as the bike awareness day, and through a Facebook group, called ‘Share The Roads, Brighton and Hove’.

Keith Baldock, Road Safety Officer at Brighton and Hove City Council said that it was important for all road users to participate in the Facebook page, in order to be educated on road safety issues, and provide feedback on the effectiveness of campaigns and ideas for how to improve road safety.

He said: “This needs to become a conversation between those most at risk.”

By Imogen Adie

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