‘We need these zones’: rider hopes safety idea can bring harmony between road users

  • A rider who suffered a near-miss with a van hopes to bring harmony between all road users by creating “wellbeing zones” in country lanes.

    Grace Olson has put the idea of the wellbeing zones – which would have reduced speed limits and signs promoting vulnerable road users around the lanes of Eccup – forward to Leeds City Council for consideration.

    Grace’s idea emerged following an incident at the end of the summer when a van overtook her and her mare Pippa “so close they could touch it”.

    “If I’d been on my younger horse, I’d probably be dead,” Grace told H&H. “I used hand signals to ask the driver to stop but I don’t think he understood. When he passed he almost looked sympathetic, it was like he had no idea what he was doing and how to pass a horse. I think he thought I was telling him to come past me.

    “I was so shaken up by the incident and what could have happened. I put a post on Facebook and got a huge volume of replies, not just from riders, but from cyclists and walkers too. Everyone is having an awful time on the roads and it made me think something needs to be done”.

    Grace contacted her local councillor Sharon Hamilton with the concept of the zones.

    “The idea is to make all the lanes entering the village wellbeing zones. There would be big signage showing a rider, cyclist, walker, and wheelchair user – and they would include how to pass them; at 10mph and two-metre distance. We also hope to have the speed limit reduced from 60mph to 20mph,” said Grace.

    “We have to make people realise the country lanes are for everybody. I want to encourage people to become more harmonious and care about each other.”

    Cllr Hamilton took Grace’s idea to a council meeting this month where Grace presented to 100 councillors, with hope the zones will be approved to run as a pilot.

    “I felt a bit like a rabbit in headlights presenting, but all the members were supportive of my idea,” said Grace. “The zones – which will also improve emissions in the area – are about improving wellbeing, which will help reduce the pressure on NHS mental health services.”

    Grace hopes that if the pilot gets granted, people in other areas of the country will be inspired and approach their councils.

    “If more people say ‘Yes that’s a good idea, I want this to happen where I live’, then everybody can be safe. We need these zones,” she said.

    A spokesman for Leeds City Council told H&H the council was pleased to welcome Grace to the meeting.

    “Members listened with interest to the points raised and agreed for the deputation to be passed to our city development directorate for consideration. A formal response to the deputation will be prepared, which will set out recommendations and next steps, if any,” he said.
    “At this stage, no commitment to carry out any works or implement other changes has been approved. Given existing work pressures, a response to the deputation is expected to be issued in the new year.”

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