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25th February 2013

Student commute ‘an accident hotspot’ for cyclists

Oxford and Wilmslow Roads have the highest number of accidents per year involving cyclists in Manchester

Oxford Road and Wilmslow Road are the most dangerous roads for cyclists in Manchester and the Curry Mile is an ‘ac­cident hotspot’, say police.

The roads have the highest number of accidents per year, and the area in Rush­olme is one of a few with high numbers of accidents involving cyclists along Oxford Road and Wilmslow Road, according to the Greater Manchester Police.

“This road has the highest rate of ac­cidents a year involving cyclists in Man­chester,” said PC Andy Speed. “The Curry Mile is one of a few accident hotspots.”

Figures obtained from a Freedom of Information request by The Mancuncion show that from January 2011 to August 2012 there were 43 accidents involving cyclists, 4 of which were serious, along Oxford Road and Wilmslow Road.

Whether the fault for these accidents is with cyclists or motorists has become a contentious issue in the cycling com­munity.

“We received lots of complaints from bus drivers about cyclists on Oxford Road. We investigated these complaints and found a lot of them to be genuine,” said PC Speed, responsible for running a cycling safety awareness campaign along Oxford Road and Wilmslow Road, this month.

As part of the campaign, on February 12 police were stationed at the Fallowfield end of the Curry Mile, issuing cyclists with £30 fines for any violation they made, such as riding through a red light.

Cyclists caught breaking the law were given the option of paying the fine, or at­tending one of a series of cycling safety awareness events held at Withington fire station.

Final year medical student Charlotte Hickson, who received a £30 fine for rid­ing through a red light, told The Mancun­ion that people seemed to be “such bad drivers” and said “something needs to be done” about the Curry Mile.

“The Curry Mile is the worst place,” she said. “It is basically a pedestrianized road. Almost all of my accidents have happened on the Curry Mile.

“There are pedestrians walking out from in between parked cars, car doors opening, cars double parked next to parked cars, with taxis trying to go around them. And there are pedestrians in the cycle lanes using them as walk­ways.

“Something needs to be done about Rusholme. I have never seen anything like it.”

She added, “I often go through red lights, because there are so many of them. And I think it is safer to maintain a constant speed with traffic, I feel like I am in more control.

It is more dangerous to be constantly stopping and starting, because the buses don’t look when they pull out.

“In general, everyone seems to be such bad drivers, and they are so angry.”

Former University of Manchester stu­dent Sudhin Bajimaya, who also received a £30 fine for running a red light, agreed with Miss Hickson.

“Oxford Road is very dangerous. Curry Mile is horrible,” he said. “Bus and taxi drivers don’t care about cyclists. That is why I think people cycle on the pave­ments, which is an issue.”

“I don’t usually ride through red lights. But I think it is safer to ride through on a red light than on a green light, because there is no chance of getting hit by car.

Local resident and cyclist Martin Mayor, who was issued with a £30 fine for riding through a red light outside the BBC build­ing on Oxford Road, felt strongly that the fault for accidents involving cyclists was with motorists.

“Cyclists don’t kill people, drivers do,” said Mr Mayor. “Really cyclists cause very few accidents. It is a fact that the fault lies with the drivers.”

He added, “Cyclists that are killed can’t actually ever give their side of the story.”

Fourth year History and German stu­dent Tom Glasser felt ignorant cyclists were also the ones causing problems on the road.

“It’s a lazy stereotype, but it’s true that it is usually art students on ‘fixie’ bikes who believe they are meta-beings who think they are invisible and cars cannot see them,” he said.

Inspector Paul Rowe from the GMP’s Serious Collision Investigation Unit, who has been running the cycling awareness presentations at Withington fire station, said he wants to educate cyclists, because they are the most “vulnerable”.

“People can just pick up a pushbike and ride it with no training whatsoever,” he said. “I am just trying to highlight to peo­ple, be aware of what is going on.

“Trying to educate people everybody is a big issue.

“A problem we have is a number of the different students that come, say from China and so forth, they don’t have rules and regulations like we have. So they’re not aware of what the rules are here.

Insp Rowe added, “I’d love it all to change, I feel that the cycle lanes at the side of road are difficult in the fact that all it is a lane.

“You get people parking on the cycle lanes that are lazy and can’t be bothered to park around the corner and walk to get their curry. It is an offence to park on a cycle lane.

Insp Rowe also supposed the high rate of accidents on Oxford Road and Wilmslow Road was down to the large number of cyclists using the route.

Manchester City Council told The Man­cunion that they have plans to improve cycle lanes in the city.

“We have applied for some funding from the Department of Transport. That will go towards improving the cycle paths going into the city centre and improving junctions to make them better for cy­clists,” said a spokesman for the council. “We are still at the phase of looking into exactly where that money is going to go and how it is going to be used.

“Cycling is a big priority for the city council, to make it a better city for cy­clists.

Police were on campus this month with a bus and damaged bicycles as part of presentation on cycling safety, and will be on campus in March with a similar presentation for the University’s Wellbe­ing Week.

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