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Calls for all children to undergo bicycle training
A road collision expert has welcomed the national debate concerning children cycling to school unsupervised, following recent media interest in the case of two children aged 8 and 5 years old.
Joanna Bailey, a partner with Fentons Solicitors LLP and active supporter of road safety charity Brake, said the recent story (read the Daily Mail story here) surrounding the family from south east London had served to highlight a long-standing issue.
"Whether the children in this case were too young to be allowed to ride to school unsupervised is for the parents and authorities to discuss," said Joanna. "But what this case has done is to highlight the wider issue, which is to ensure that children have had sufficient training before they are allowed to ride unsupervised on or near roads."
Joanna said parents are well placed to know enough about their own children's skills and level of maturity to make an informed decision about whether to allow them to cycle on roads unsupervised. "Coupled with a parent's knowledge of the area in which they live and the volume of traffic on roads locally, they are in the best position to know their children's capabilities," she said.
"While we should remember that children can only develop valuable life skills when they have the opportunity to experience risks and learn how to cope with them themselves, we must also do our utmost to ensure they are adequately prepared. The Cycling Proficiency Test or modern equivalents are often offered by schools, and parents should jump at the chance of helping their children learn how to handle their bicycle safely," she said.
Joanna has spent several years working with the victims and families of those affected by road traffic collisions, many of whom were cyclists.
"As a nation we spend a great deal of time and money ensuring that drivers are qualified and fit to drive," she said. "We have to undergo a series of lessons, a written exam and a practical test before being told, 'Ok, you can drive.' But anyone is free to pick up a bike and start riding.
"While proficiency exams are not compulsory, we would support the nationwide introduction of a bicycle training scheme, in the same way that we support calls for a law requiring all cyclists to wear a helmet," said Joanna. "It may seem quite draconian to those who don't regularly deal with accident victims, but we take calls every day from people who have been killed, brain damaged or seriously injured following a collision on the road.
"Ensuring a cyclist is competent and confident on the road, and protected by a helmet, can only be a good thing," she said.
Recent provisional figures from the Department for Transport show that cyclist deaths fell by 10 per cent from 115 in 2008 to 104 in 2009. The number of cyclists seriously injured rose by six per cent from 2,450 to 2,606.
How can Fentons Solicitors help?
Fentons has a specialist department experienced in handling claims for victims of road traffic collisions.
If you think that you have a case or require further information contact Fentons on 0800 0191 297 or fill in the online claims questionnaire.
Source - RoSPA
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