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‘Master-plan’ to be launched to encourage safer cycling

The family of a Hove teacher, Jo Walters, are launching a master-plan to make cycling safer in Brighton and Hove.

Jo Walters, who was a newly-qualified mathematics teacher, was killed in July 2010 on the A270 Lewes Road cycle route between Brighton and Sussex University campuses, a busy route for student cyclists.

Since Miss Walter’s death in 2010, her family have set up a highly successful organisation. The Jo Walter’s Trust have taken action towards improving cycle safety, particularly on Lewes Road.

The Jo Walters Trust holds fundraisers with the aim of providing opportunities to help people enrich their own and others’ lives through sport, educational and environmental projects in the UK and abroad.

In 2011, the trust offered five grants to organisations and individuals who undertake similar charity work to that achieved by Jo Walters, including a ‘Prize for the Officer Cadet in the Bristol Officer Training Corps who does the most for charity or the community’.

The trust commissioned a report which has highlighted the hazards of the current cycle path on the A270 between Falmer and Brighton.

Current UK guidelines recommend that cycle tracks should be at least three meters wide and the London Cycling Design Standards recommend up to four and a half metres wide.

The report highlights that the Lewes Road cycle path is only 2.4 meters wide. Jo Walters died when her bike went out of control whilst attempting to avoid harming the cyclist in front of her.

She had tried to overtake it, but lost control of her bicycle and wobbled into the road, being hit by an oncoming truck.

Consultant engineer Peter Mynors, editor of London Cycling Design Standards, has recommended the path on which Jo Walters died should be widened to prevent similar accidents in the future.

He said cycling provision in Brighton and Hove is similar to other cities across the UK, but is “woefully short” compared to European counterparts.

Mr Mynors has highlighted that as the path is shared by pedestrians and cyclists, the lack of space can lead to dangerous “split second” manoeuvres.

Mr Mynors said: “[Jo] had a split second decision and it was the wrong one. She went into the carriageway and a truck was coming towards her. If the path had been wide enough for two cyclists to pass then there would not have been a decision to make.”

It highlights the case for a higher national spend on cycling provision in order to raise standards to those seen across Europe.

The council has since said that it has listened to the points made by The Jo Walter’s Trust and by the London Cycling Design Standards, and is taking on board their recommendations.

The council will consult on proposals for Lewes Road in April and the Walters’ master-plan will form part of the consultation proposals.

The council added the section of path where Miss Walters died is the responsibility of the Highways Agency.

John, a University of Sussex biology student, has said that drastic action needs to be taken by the council and the Highways Agency.

“It’s a cycle lane used daily by Sussex and Brighton students, as well as Lewes Road residents. It’s totally disrespectful that despite numerous deaths over the years, the cycle lane hasn’t been notably changed by either the council or the Highways Agency.”

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