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Tragic Lewis died doing what he loved

Posted on - 9th February, 2011 - 10:13am | Author - | Posted in - Campaigns, Crime, News, People, Sport

Lib Dem councillors Mark Jewell and Danny Gallagher have both backed calls for 20mph limits on residential roads

The tragic death of rising cycling star Lewis Balyckyi is one of many young people who die on Lancashire’s roads each year.

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Lewis, just 18 when he died in January, was tipped to represent Great Britain at the 2012 Olympics.

He died from severe head injuries after a crash in Bretherton, only a few miles from his home in Walton-le-Dale.

Lewis’ father Kevin said: “Lewis was every parent’s dream. He never had a frown on his face, always laughing. Whenever he was around, the people he was with were uplifted and always felt better for the experience.

“Sadly this was snatched away in an instant less than five miles away from home when he was doing what he loved – riding his bike.”

Lewis had been the under-16 National Circuit Race Champion, a junior winner of the British National Circuit Championships and was part of the British Cycling Talent Team.

Friend and team-mate Chris Sherriffs said: “He was going away to Brittany to race and live the dream.

“Personally, I don’t think there is enough support or respect for cyclists on the roads in this country. Drivers seem to try and knock you off.”

The loss of such a promising young sports star is an all too familiar story on Lancashire’s roads.

Lancashire County Council plans to combat the problem by introducing 20mph speed limits in residential areas. The Council aims to change the psychology of drivers and make speeding ‘as taboo as drink driving’.

‘A step too far’

But Hugh Bladon, founder member of the Association of British Drivers, doubted the plans would make a difference.

He said: “20mph zones are unenforceable. These roads are where you can’t do much more than 20mph anyway.

“I think it’s one step too far. Drivers should be looking out for dangers rather than looking at their speedometer. It’s an attempt by local councils to be seen to be doing something.”

Road safety charity Brake has been campaigning for the introduction of 20mph speed limits for the last few years.

Their ‘Kids say slow down’ campaign follows research that it takes twice as long for a car to stop at 30mph than if it was travelling at 20mph.

And, after Hull City Council reduced some speed limits to 20mph, they found that accidents involving children decreased by nearly 75 per cent.

Lancashire Road Safety Partnership has introduced educational programs and speed awareness courses for drivers caught speeding to try and change drivers’ mindsets.

But Chris Peck, policy co-ordinator of the national cyclists’ organisation, believes the UK needs to reduce both speed and volumes of traffic to improve safety.

He said: “20mph zones are one of the best things that can be done regarding safety on our roads.

“In Europe there are more cyclists, making drivers more aware of them. We need to encourage more people to cycle because as a nation we are very car dependent.

“But we need to think of ways to stop bad driving habits and improving the layout of our roads.”

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