ANOTHER serious accident involving a cyclist has spurred an ongoing campaign for improvements to be made to notorious New Forest blackspot Ipley Crossroads.
Cycling UK’s campaigns group is pressuring Hampshire County Council to strengthen safety at the junction, near Applemore – the scene of numerous fatal and serious-injury collisions involving cyclists.
David Bensley, a Cycling UK member, was the latest rider to fall foul of the junction when he was badly hurt in an incident with a car on Wednesday 15th January.
It happened shortly after 12.30pm as he was taking part in a Southampton Cycling and Touring Club ride through the Forest.
As reported in the A&T, the impact hurled the 50-year-old unconscious into a water-filled ditch, from which he had to be pulled by fellow club members.
The Hampshire and Isle of Wight air ambulance and a South Central Ambulance Service hazardous area response team were among the emergency crews which responded to the incident near Marchwood Inclosure.
Having suffered serious head and leg injuries, Mr Bensley, from Southampton, was taken by road ambulance to the city’s general hospital, accompanied by medics from the helicopter.
Police closed the junction for an hour while crews dealt with the incident. No one else was reported to have been injured.
Mr Bensley posted on the Cycle Southampton Facebook page that night, saying: “Will miss your rides for some time, in A&E with broken leg and neck. Car taken me out, bike’s a write-off.”
A string of collisions between cyclists and vehicles has resulted in Ipley crossroads being named one of the worst junctions in the country. There have been campaigns in recent years to improve its safety.
In December 2016 36-year-old Eastleigh cyclist Kieran Dix was in collision with a car and later died in hospital. In May 2012, retired Southampton University lecturer Mark Brummell (53) was killed after also being knocked off his bike. The drivers involved in both incidents were prosecuted.
Following the latest incident, campaigners are calling for urgent action to be taken before someone else dies at the crossroads.
One measure proposed is to stagger the isolated junction – something HCC considered in 2018 by digging up sections of it.
Some work has been carried out recently to address the blackspot, with stop-signs and road markings, but the campaigners feel this is not enough.
Duncan Dollimore, head of campaigns at Cycling UK, said: “It’s been clear for almost a decade that this junction poses a real safety risk to both visitors and residents of the New Forest, especially cyclists.
“The slow progress towards improving the layout unfortunately means that that lives continue to be put at risk every day.
“We appreciate that Hampshire County Council are working with local partners, including the verderers of the New Forest, to improve the crossroads, but until this work begins, we would strongly urge the council to take immediate steps to prevent another collision.
“This could be quickly and inexpensively achieved through temporary measures such as the installation of chicanes on approach to the stop-signs, as have been installed on similar crossroads elsewhere in the New Forest.”
Marchwood Parish Council chairman Cllr Richard Young is an avid cyclist and regularly rides through the junction. He attributed these factors to him having a “personal connection” to the issue despite it being outside of his council’s jurisdiction.
“I have sadly even had the displeasure of experiencing a number of very near-misses at Ipley crossroads in recent years, whether cycling alone or in a group with clubmates,” Cllr Young said.
“I am extremely concerned at the evidenced collision data regarding those who have been killed or seriously injured at this location. In my personal opinion the entirely avoidable deaths of cyclists Mark Brummell and Kieran Dix must simply never be repeated when an obvious engineering solution exists in the form of staggering the crossroads.”
He explained his own experiences and those related by other cyclists, as well as Mr Bensley’s accident, led him to believe the stop-signs and lines are “demonstrably wholly inadequate”.
“Only luck prevented yet another avoidable fatality of a cyclist occurring at Ipley crossroads last week, and we as a society owe it to all vulnerable road users to design out the danger caused by apparent driver incompetence,” Cllr Young added.
Several Facebook users commented on Mr Bensley’s post to wish him a speedy recovery and also to criticise the junction.
One wrote: “That junction has such a history, and well documented design failures, it must get addressed ASAP.”
Another posted: “This type of incident needs maximum publicity. My wife had a very narrow escape a few years back at a similar junction in the New Forest.”
Responding to the concerns, HCC’s cabinet member for environment and transport, Cllr Rob Humby, said some of the crossroads’ danger was down to its good visibility.
He maintained the authority was still pursuing the idea of staggering the junction, but he pointed out that land ownership issues mean this is dependent on obtaining special permissions for work.
“I was very sorry to hear of this accident at Ipley crossroads, and of the injuries sustained by the cyclist,” Cllr Humby said.
“We feel that part of the issue here is, conversely, the good visibility and open vista, with some drivers approaching the crossroads and misjudging the speed and distance of oncoming vehicles.
“Therefore, we continue to work on plans to stagger the crossroads. The crossroads are within the New Forest National Park, and the land beyond the paved road surface is Crown land – which is subject to national and European legislation as it supports protected habitats and species.
“This requires special permissions to be granted to us for any realignment of the road to be carried out. We want to resolve this as soon as possible, and are making good progress – working with other agencies towards a collective solution.”
He added: “In the meantime, we have implemented all the measures we consider possible at the crossroads that can be installed within our control, including stop-signs, rumble pads, high-friction surfacing and advanced signing.”
Hampshire police is continuing to investigate the collision on 15th January. Those with information should contact officers on 101.