A professional triathlete still recovering from injuries caused in an incident with a motorist in the Dales has joined the debate over the relationship between road users, as cycling events continue to grow as a major contributor to the region’s economy.
During a North Yorkshire County Council debate on a the rise of fatalities on the county’s roads, councillors said schemes had been put in place including the creation of virtual cycling paths on its website. The tension between cyclists and motorists was also discussed by councillors.
Caroline Livesey, of Team Xhale, was rugby-tackled off her bike by a van driver in a road-rage row in May last year leaving her with a pelvic fracture, she continues to be dealing with the injury today. The driver was given a six months suspended prison sentence.
Speaking to the Herald this week she welcomed the opportunity for the debate to be highlighted. After returning from Majorca Caroline said that even on her first ride back in this country, she was verbally abused by a driver outside Dacre.
Both groups should be able to ‘share the road’ together, she said, which was all the more important with events such as the Tour de Yorkshire drawing more people to Yorkshire.
She said: “With events like the Tour de Yorkshire more people want to come here, it is a beautiful place that people want to visit.
“That means more people will be on the road,and we have to find a way to get a message out to both riders and drivers that we need to be able to share the road.
She added: “The current situation cannot be allowed to continue, more people are getting knocked off their bikes or having incidents involving drivers.
“This is something that brings so many tourists and helps the economy. Yorkshire cannot afford to be known as the place where people are knocked off their bikes.”
It is a sentiment shared by other groups across the district, Amanda Stott of the Knaresborough Cycling Club suggested new generations of road users could help bring about change.
She said: “Its a bit like anything in life, you get some people on bikes and in cars who are disrespectful but there are also some who are incredibly respectful. They recognise we are sharing the road with each other. We have also had times where drivers have done things like spray us with their window wipers deliberately.”
She added: “I think if something was added to people’s theory tests we could have new drivers coming on to the road knowing what cyclists are allowed to do, like riding side by side and when it is safe for them to take the opportunity to pass.”
Liz Annetts of the Harrogate Cappuccino Cycling Club said riders in the district were still encountering ‘unwarranted aggression’, while also highlighting the need for a change in people’s attitudes.
She said: “From our point of view we have guidelines we ask our members to follow, but as a cyclist I have to say there is a lot of unwarranted aggression.
“From our own clubs point of view we ride abreast and on narrow roads we are calling out to each other. On driving courses people are told of the rationale, which is if a car overtakes any cyclists riding abreast it shortens the passing distance.”
She added: “We have seen quite a few things written online about cyclists, they don’t seem to think of them as people, that it could be someone’s mum, dad, brother or sister.
“They just think of them as something which holds them up from their destination. I think there is work to be done, but from personal experience there is a lot of unwarranted aggression.”