FEARS about safety on Abingdon’s roads have been heightened after a teenage cyclist was seriously injured in the first week of the new school term.
A 14-year-old Fitzharrys School boy suffered a broken leg in an accident with a car in Dunmore Road at 5pmlast Wednesday.
The accident sparked renewed calls for safety improvements to routes used by children on their way to and from school.
Town schools had already mounted a campaign following the deaths of two Larkmead School pupil cyclists during the past year and, more recently, parents of new pupils starting at secondary school this term had also called for improvements.
Parents say the issue of cycle safety in Abingdon cannot be ducked any longer — they are demanding action before another child dies.
Fitzharrys School headteacher Susan Tranter said: “After everything that has happened during the last year, and now another accident within the first week of the school term, it’s clear that something has to be done.
“Thankfully, this youngster was all right this time, but it is a serious injury and who knows what could happen in the future?
“We need to increase cycling routes around Abingdon and look at the speed limits. I also think motorists need to be made more bike-aware.”
During the five years until the end of July, there were 11 accidents in Dunmore Road, which has a 40mph speed limit. Nine resulted in slight injuries and two in serious injuries. One accident resulted in a serious injury to a child, another in a slight injury to a cyclist.
In July, Larkmead School pupil Ty-Ree Partridge, 11, was cycling home from the school’s science club when she died after a collision with a van in Copenhagen Drive.
Nine months earlier, another Larkmead pupil, Sarah Waterhouse, 17, had died in a cycle accident involving a coach in Colwell Drive.
The deputy headteacher at Larkmead School, Jonathan Dennett, said: “Obviously, we have had two tragedies at the school in the last year and this incident again highlights the issues surrounding cyclists in Abingdon.
“Already this term we’ve had a number of parents approach us with ideas to improve safety in the town and we’re lobbying the county council to do so.
“In the next few weeks there will be a meeting of local schools to discuss the ideas.”
Mandy Wooloff, 43, of Drayton Road, Abingdon, who has two daughters at Fitzharrys School. said: “Cycling safety in Abingdon is horrendous. I’ve seen many near misses involving cyclists.”
Amanda Devitt, 33, of Milton, who has a daughter at the school. said: “I would love for my daughter to be able to cycle to school, but there’s no way I would let her.”
Oxfordshire County Council spokesman Owen Morton said: “The county council is close to finalising a list of improvements to cycle routes in Abingdon and has £35,000 to spend.
“We are looking to press ahead with these improvements as soon as possible.”
He added that safe cycling and walking routes would be promoted and cycle training more widely offered.
Sandy Lovatt, county councillor for North Abingdon, said residents were getting frustrated and annoyed by the lack of a solution. He said he now wanted a safety audit carried out in the town to focus council officers on finding a solution.