Keep it slow, keep it safe

A road safety evening in Witcham, organised by Witcham Equestrian Centre as part of their amazing fundraising activity to pay for changes to the speed limits in the village, drew a crowd tonight.

Parish council chairman Mick Housden explained the origins of the speed limit change application and progress to date.

Sergeant Phil Priestley from the local policing team spoke about the police perspective, and kicked off some useful discussion about interactions between cyclists and riders (how should cyclists approach horses? should cyclists ring their bell from behind a horse?), and about recording video when out on horseback using equipment such as a helmet-fitted Go Pro.  Phil rightly praised the work of the parish council and Witcham Equestrian Centre in blazing a trail for other villages to follow by working together as a community to make local roads safer.

Alan Hiscox from the British Horse Society (pictured here with me at the event) gave a talk based on the BHS campaign Dead? Or dead slow? Your choice. He gave some horrifying statistics: 39 riders and 230 horses have been killed in traffic incidents in the last seven years, with 840 horses injured.  85 per cent of these incidents were the result of vehicles passing horses too close or too fast.

Alan told us that an official study had recommended that ‘speed limits on roads with significant horse and rider activity should be reduced and enforced’ – exactly what the community is working towards in Witcham.

Nigel Leaney from Willingham Wheels talked about the experience of cyclists, another group of vulnerable road users.  He mentioned the new ‘safe pass’ poster campaign in Cumbria aimed at saving lives by reducing collisions between cyclists and vehicles. Nigel’s presentation also provoked a useful discussion about the importance of ongoing education and awareness for all road users.  The Highway Code is being updated constantly – when was the last time any of us read the latest version?

Ticket sales, refreshment takings, and the proceeds of the raffle at this interesting and thought-provoking event will add to the sums raised so far towards implementing the speed limit changes in Witcham.  Donations gratefully received at Patsy Horse’s JustGiving page.

Finally, did you know?

  • You can (and are encouraged to) report horse-related accidents, incidents or near misses at www.horseaccidents.org.uk
  • The British Horse Society runs a Ride Safe Award scheme – the essential award for all riders from beginners to performance riders.
  • Cambridge Cycling Campaign is a valuable source of information and advice for cyclists, including those taking up cycling after a long break.

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