"I have never known a time when hedges posed such a danger to road users"
Maurie Parish of the Cyclists’ Tourist Club Suffolk is appealing to people to cut their hedges ….
“CTCSuffolk is a local cycling group that organises day rides on Sunday’s and Thursday’s throughout the year. As a group we have become increasingly concerned about a number of road safety issues. This letter is however about overgrowth of hedges. In the past few years there has been a reduction in hedge cutting generally. This said there are some hedges that are cut back every year and this is to be applauded. Unfortunately some hedges have not been cut for several years. In places we now have hedges right up to the edge of the road, and in many instances they are overlapping the highway. Many of those that are cut back are only cut back to the edge of the road prior to the nesting season (early March) and quickly regrow thereafter in the spring period.
In our view there are a number of issues which present a danger to all road users, particularly us cyclists, and others who don’t have the protection of vehicle bodywork around them. We would like to share these issues with your readers in order to bring about a greater understanding between road users..
1 We suspect the fear of scratching vehicles on hedges forces car to the centre of roads where they are at an increased risk of hitting vehicles and cyclist coming the other way.
2 Cyclists have no shoulder room and are presented with a high risk of injury from sharp ends of those hedges cut back or abraded to the edge of the road by commercial and other larger vehicle. This means they have to ride further out from the edge of the road putting themselves in danger, from those oncoming cars in the middle of the road.
3 Cyclists have no escape route in the form of grass verges if “cut up” by any vehicle driver who misjudges space to overtake or when the road is twisty and a vehicle has not seen them in time to slow or stop behind them for oncoming traffic.
4 Cyclists and other road users are hidden from sight by these encroaching hedge lines on anything other than straight roads, for longer periods resulting in greater risk of being hit from behind. Other road users of course include pedestrians and horse riders, as well as slow moving vehicles.
5 A secondary issue is that overgrowth of hedges restricts visibility of road signage that is there to control and manage traffic, such as speed limits, warnings of junctions and other driver/road user information and advice.
As a driver and a cyclist I believe I see this problem from both sides, and am well qualified to voice these views on behalf of CTC Suffolk. I have been cycling for 55 plus years, and driving round Suffolk roads and lanes for a similar number of years during my working career. I have never known a time when hedges posed such a danger to road users as they do at this time.
Our group hopes that by publishing this issue and others we might help make our highways safer for all user’s. We hope that A) Hedge owners will realise the dangers failure to maintain hedges in an appropriate manner cause, and B) Those using the road will become more thoughtful about the way they do so.
I would appeal to all readers to spread the message, as accidents cost us all in the long run, by placing extra strain on the NHS the Police and others, and ultimately some people may pay with their lives.”