Rooma and Nilesh Parmar

Traumatised: Nilesh Parmar with his mother Rooma. Photograph: Rooma Parmar

An 11-year-old schoolboy suffered a nasty shoulder injury after he was clattered by a cyclist as he crossed Wordsworth Road on his way to school last week.

Nilesh Parmar was left “shocked and traumatised” after the cyclist knocked him over at high speed and told him to “look where he was going” as he lay injured in the road.

The incident happened just outside Garden School on the CS1 cycle superhighway that recently benefitted from a controversial traffic-calming trial introduced by Hackney Council and Transport for London (TfL).

Nilesh’s mother Rooma said: “My son was wheeling his bike across the road and spotted a cyclist in the distance. Even though there were no other bikes or cars around, the man crashed straight into Nilesh’s shoulder at high speed. Nilesh fell back awkwardly onto his own bike but the cyclist just shouted at him and rushed off. A nearby mother and her son had to help him up.

“Nilesh even apologised to the cyclist. He’s only eleven and all he could think was that he was going to be late for school – he’s just started secondary school so it’s a big deal for him to get there on his own.

“It was only when he got home that he burst into tears. I took him straight to A&E where we discovered he’d actually suffered soft tissue damage in his shoulder. He’s had to take three days off school and he’s done five days of physiotherapy.”

Ms Parmar was “shocked” by the police response when she went to the local station to report the incident.

She said: “The officer made me feel really stupid. She looked at me and said, ‘Are we talking about a pushbike here?’ Then she said – and these are her exact words – ‘What are you expecting to get out of this?’

“She could see I was visibly shaking and upset but she was really rude. She told me they wouldn’t be pursuing it and that I should talk to her colleague because she was about to come off her shift.”

Wordsworth Road and Cowper Road junction

Risky: critics of the new scheme say it is more dangerous for children. Photograph: Nicky Bowden

Last month (October), Hackney Council and TfL introduced a trial that blocks vehicles from using certain junctions on Wordsworth Road. The aim is to improve the CS1 route for cyclists and pedestrians, make the area “more welcoming” and prevent cars from using neighbouring roads as “rat-runs”. But opponents argue the new measures have made the route more dangerous, especially for children, with a number of schools in the area.

Local resident Nicky Bowden, who is campaigning against the traffic filters, said: “It’s pretty clear that TfL and Hackney Council haven’t thought things through for a CS1 Wordsworth Road scheme that benefits pedestrians, motorists and cyclists. They didn’t consult widely and transparently enough.

“We pointed out that the scheme is not pedestrian-friendly but TfL and Hackney Council use lack of budget as an excuse to ignore the safety of pedestrians. Let’s not forget that the junctions at either end of Wordsworth Road remain dangerous for cyclists too.”

Ms Parmar agreed: “You can hear cars, but you can’t hear speeding cyclists. It’s definitely way more dangerous for pedestrians since the trial was introduced. Some bikes go faster than cars along the route – even calling it a ‘superhighway’ makes cyclists think they can just go really fast.

“It’s incredibly dangerous. There have been times I’ve had to pull my three-year-old toddler away from the road because she was in danger of being hit by a bike.”

She called on the council to introduce road signs and CCTV cameras to deter cyclists from speeding, as well as a zebra crossing, adding: “At the moment, crossings are allocated where the junctions meet, and on a bend – not the best location for seeing bikes! With schools and a park nearby, there needs to be a zebra crossing where traffic and cyclists must stop and give way to pedestrians.”

The Town Hall’s transport supremo Cllr Feryal Demirci said: “I am sad to hear about the boy being hit by a person on a bike on Wordsworth Road, and hope he is not seriously injured. We don’t know the full details of what happened, so I would ask the boy’s parent to contact us so we can gain a better understanding of the circumstances and what we can do to try and prevent other accidents.

“The aim of the filters and other measures installed around Wordsworth Road is to prevent cars, vans and lorries from driving through, reducing traffic and making the area safer, less polluted and more pleasant to walk and cycle. The works included raised crossings and humps at junctions to slow down cars and cycles, as well as wider pavements with tactile paving at key crossing points, which along with the reduction in motor traffic, should make the road safer to cross. We also run road safety campaigns aimed at drivers, cyclists and pedestrians.

“Like all our streets, Wordsworth Road has a 20mph speed limit. We will monitor the road over the next 18 months and make amendments accordingly. This will include checking the speed of cars and cycles on the road and adding additional signs and speed reduction measures if needed.”

The Hackney Citizen has contacted the police for a comment and is awaiting their response.


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