Emsworth couple call for cycling safety boost

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An Emsworth couple have criticised the county council’s highways department and called for better provision for cyclists along the A259.

Keen cyclists Roger and Fiona Pratt, of Beacon Square, said a clearer cycling route should be put in place along the stretch of road which is a popular route for commuting cyclists.

Their son Alastair Pratt died after he was hit by a taxi while cycling along the A259 in Chidham last year. But his father believes a bigger problem is to blame.

He said: “The A259 is a busy commuter route, including for cyclists. A taxi driver not looking where he was going was the immediate cause of our son’s death, in my point of view. But the underlying cause, which the driver was a victim of as well, is that there are not the proper provisions for cyclists.”

Mr Pratt said some points along the cycle route, including where the accident occurred, are just too narrow.

Cyclists also have to dodge parked cars opposite Southbourne Surgery at times. Mr Pratt said he has spoken to motorists about the illegality of parking at the side of the A259 road, which are within the solid white line opposite the surgery; drivers were prepared to move once they understood that they couldn’t park there.

Mr Pratt added: “Police said they can’t do anything about the parking outside the surgery. The attitude is wrong in this country. The roads are tailored to the needs of motorists and anything that interferes with that freedom is considered to be an infringement.

“I have been forced off the road and shouted at, and have had eggs thrown at me, simply because I was on a bicycle. Part of the problem is that cyclists are trying to share a limited resource.”

A spokesman for West Sussex County Council said: “The stretch of the A259 where the accident happened was investigated thoroughly at the time.

“The investigation did not show the highway to be at fault – unfortunately the accident was caused by a driver error.

“We are always looking to improve cycling facilities where it is possible but unfortunately it is not always practical to do so in certain locations.

“There are cycle routes paths along the A259, but where the accident happened the road physically narrows too much to be able to install one there.”