Chichester Green councillor calls for change after horror cycling accident

Sarah Sharp (far left) launching the safer cycling campaign in August

Sarah Sharp (far left) launching the safer cycling campaign in August

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A Green councillor badly injured in an horrific crash is calling for urgent action to make Chichester safer for cyclists.

Sarah Sharp was cycling near the police station when she was in collision with a car along Basin Way on December 11.

The scene of the accident, which left cllr Sharp with numerous injuries. she was air lifted to Southampton General Hospital

The scene of the accident, which left cllr Sharp with numerous injuries. she was air lifted to Southampton General Hospital

She suffered a broken shoulder, six broken ribs and two cracked vertebrate and had to be airlifted to Southampton General Hospital, where she remained until being allowed home on Christmas Eve.

She says she doesn’t remember the accident at all but has been told a passer-by saved her life.

Cllr Sharp, 50, who represents the Green party on Chichester City Council, is a long-standing campaigner for safer cycling around Chichester.

Now she is calling on West Sussex County Council to do all it can to prevent more cyclists from suffering accidents like hers.

Cllr Sharp (centre) says when she's recovered she will dedicate herself to making Chichester safer for cyclists

Cllr Sharp (centre) says when she's recovered she will dedicate herself to making Chichester safer for cyclists

In a submitted question to be read out at Tuesday night’s South Chichester County Local Committee meeting, Cllr Sharp will ask: “Funds into the millions of pounds are being earmarked to speed up the A27.

“Whatever option is finally adopted, I ask you today to also consider another priority: the safety of your residents.

“Just as health and safety legislation doesn’t tolerate any accidents at work, the ‘Vision Zero’ movement aims for zero deaths or serious injuries on our roads.

“Things like protected, safe cycling and walking routes are not add-ons, they are a must, fundamental to a viable, environmentally sustainable, future transport infrastructure for Chichester.

“What can the County Council do, on the A27 and on its own roads, to ensure such things are not overlooked and that at least a fraction of those millions go to cyclists and pedestrians?”

Speaking to the Observer on Monday, Cllr Sharp said although she was released from hospital on Christmas Eve, she remains in severe pain which causes her to wake every hour at night.

“I don’t know what happened in the accident, I don’t remember it,” she said.

“And I don’t blame the driver, I blame the infrastructure for causing it.

“If we had the proper infrastructure in Chichester it would reduce the risk of injury and death to all cyclists.”

She added: “Somebody saved my life. My bag was around my neck cutting off my oxygen and somebody removed it.

“I don’t know who that person was but I owe them my life.”

Cllr Sharp has been an avid campaigner for road safety since moving to Chichester in 1999. She pioneered the 20’s Plenty campaign, which lowered speed limits in the city’s residential roads, so her daughter could ride safely to secondary school.

She said: “It’s rather ironic that it should happen to me after all the campaigning.

“I have always cycled everywhere, my two children and husband also cycle everywhere and I don’t want what happened to me to happen to them, or to anyone else.

“Cycling should be a healthy and enjoyable way of getting about but Chichester simply isn’t a safe place for cyclists.

“I’m not looking for sympathy, what I’m looking for is action and strong decisions to transform this city.”

She wants Chichester to follow the example of Sweden and Holland by adopting the Vision Zero approach which aims for no serious injuries or deaths on its roads.

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