Thousands backing bike safety petition

Message...Mike Higgins with the road safety petition. (Mail Picture: Andrew Carpenter/MHMP 001605-26)
Message...Mike Higgins with the road safety petition. (Mail Picture: Andrew Carpenter/MHMP 001605-26)

A DETERMINED cyclist who set up a petition to include cycle awareness as part of the driving exam has gathered more than 5,500 signatures in less than a week.

Mike Higgins, from Kibworth, launched the petition because he believes knowledge on how to deal with cyclists on the roads is poor and needs to start at the beginning of a driver’s training.

The campaign has snowballed with cycling legend Chris Boardman and British Cycling getting on board to back it.

Mr Higgins said: “I’m not trying to say all cyclists are good and all drivers bad.

“I do feel that it is a lottery at the moment. Some people know how to overtake, some don’t.

“This year UK drivers have knocked too many people off bikes including Bradley Wiggins, and with London 2012 and Wiggo’s win at the Tour De France, more people will be on the road, so awareness will be more important.”

The petition has been partly prompted by the death of Kibworth man Adam Bennett, who died in November after a collision near the Shearsby Bath restaurant in Bruntingthorpe Road.

Mr Higgins is hoping to prompt a debate in Parliament by getting the required 100,000 signatures on his petition.

He has been able to get several cycling luminaries to back the campaign by publishing a website link to his petition on their Twitter pages.

One of these people is Lutterworth athlete Lucy Hall who led the Olmypic triathlon at London 2012 for a time.

Chris Boardman also posted the link on his Twitter page.

Mr Higgins said: “The other day it just hit me that perhaps people just need to be trained in how and when to overtake. They do it for horses!

“It’s more important than learning how to do a three-point turn as lives are at stake and I saw that British Cycling were supportive of including things in the practical driving test so I set up the e-petition.”

He added: “100,000 is a lot of signatures but I think once I get some momentum the story can build and it’s good to start locally.”

Vic Barnett is the president of Welland Valley Cycling Club which covers the Lutterworth and Harborough area.

He said: “I think it is a fantastic idea.

“The problem is that cars are so powerful.

“Drivers don’t realise cyclists’ speed and how close they are getting to cyclists. It is about them being aware that riders are on the road.

“I think it is a good campaign and more power to him.

Mr Barnett said that the amount of support the petition has already received goes to show that people out there are willing to back it.

Neil Holman, a keen cyclist and the owner of George Halls Cycle Centre in Harborough, believes the petition can only be a good thing and said: “When they do the theory driving test they have to do awareness, so I would think they could easily incorporate cycling into that.”

He said he often hears about incidents and on Tuesday one of his staff was cut up by a taxi driver while turning into Scotland Road on his bike.

“Drivers generally don’t have a clue. Drivers aren’t aware of how fast a cyclist can go.”

“A lot of cyclists will go faster than 15 or even 20 miles an hour,” he added.

Sign the petition here