Could drones improve cycle event safety in Midhurst area?

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  • A debate has been sparked by an incident where a motorist burst two tyres after trying to avoid a large group of cyclists coming towards him
  • It has been suggested that drones could be used to monitor cyclists taking part in large rides
  • It has also been suggested that cyclists taking part in big events should pay towards the upkeep of roads

AN Observer article which highlighted the dangers of large cycling events on county lanes after an incident at Bepton, has sparked a lively on online debate viewed more than 3500 times.

And now debate leader John Trueman, editor of the online community magazine ‘Midhurst Pages’ has come up with the innovative idea of using drones to monitor safety.

The quadcopter might just introduce a method of surveying ‘quiet lanes’

Earlier this summer Bepton villager Bridget Davies and her husband Carl were driving along narrow and winding Bell Lane between Cocking and Bepton when they found themselves facing hundreds of cyclists riding up to five abreast and taking up the whole road.

Mrs Davies said they were forced into the verge hitting a rock and bursting two tyres. Cyclists ignored their warnings to keep to one side and she feared there could have been a serious accident.

There were some 800 riders taking part in a ride organised by UK Cycling Events.

“The quadcopter might just introduce a method of surveying ‘quiet lanes’,” said Mr Trueman, “spotting and recording unacceptable behaviour on camera and reporting the offence direct to a police station. Perhaps initially ‘quiet lanes’ used regularly for big events and sportives should be selected.”

He said he did not believe warning signs would deter bad behaviour unless there was a sanction which was ‘rigorously enforce’.

But once people got caught on camera and fined, he believed the word would spread which could reduce the problem.

The cycling lobby believed quads could also help improve safety if used by individual riders to spot danger, said Mr Trueman.

Drones were already being used for sheep farming, monitoring race horses and many other similar activities.

“All very exciting, but do we want them in the South Downs National Park, especially if they contribute to hassle with sportives and big event cycling?”

He said he had examined the spot where Mr and Mrs Davies had their accident and “it is not fit for use as a sportive route.”

The single track lane he added: “should not, in my view, be allowed for use as a sportive route until the passing places have been repaired by West Sussex County Council highways to a satisfactory standard.”

‘Single track’ signs should be put up and he also believed large event riders should be made to pay a levy to help pay for road repairs.

View the debate here Cycle safety debate

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