• Wheelchair racer lends voice to road safety campaign after near-miss with car
  • All road users need to share road space responsibly, says Mel
  • Road Safety Partnership focussing campaign on positive behaviour
  • Commissioner believes getting attitude right will help lead to safer roads

World Paralympic silver medallist Mel Nicholls is backing a campaign by the Gloucestershire Road Safety Partnership (GRSP) to promote safe and social driving.

The record-breaking wheelchair racer suffered a near-miss with a car while out training in her three-wheeled racing chair in Tewkesbury last month.

Mel met yesterday (17 March) with Gloucestershire Police and Crime Commissioner Martin Surl and the partnership’s Cycling Coordinator Don Muir to talk about how to help make the county’s roads safer.

She described how she was approaching a traffic-calming point on Northway Lane motorway-bridge, when a silver Mercedes refused to acknowledge her right of way and accelerated towards her, causing her to skid and narrowly avoid a head-on collision with the car.

“I was lucky not to be hurt, but it does anger me the attitude of some road users and the obvious lack of care of safety,” said Mel.

“I’m not saying that cyclists and other road users aren’t sometimes at fault, but it’s about everybody being respectful of each other. People who see me out regularly are very supportive and give me a wave or a cheer. Although I think even some people don’t realise I’m disabled, they think I’m just out riding an unusual bike by choice and a small number have disappointingly voiced their dislike at me while out training.”

Mel has offered to do what she can to help the Road Safety Partnership, which has focussed its campaign on positive behaviour, celebrating the fact that many motorists do drive in a sociable manner while encouraging all to think about the impact their actions can have on others.

Commissioner Mr Surl said,

“I’m thankful that Mel’s experience at Northway didn’t end in tragedy and delighted that she has come on board to help promote safe and social driving, which is one of my priorities. We’ve had a good discussion and feel that it would be helpful if everybody was more courteous – motorists, cyclists, bikers, horse riders, dog walkers, anyone in fact who shares road space. If we get the social bit right, the safe part should follow.”

Cllr Nigel Moor, cabinet member responsible for road safety said,

“I’m thankful to Mel for sharing her experience with us. It raises awareness that all road users need to look out for each other and respect each other’s needs.” 

Don Muir, GRSP Cycling Coordinator, Gloucestershire Police and Crime Commissioner Martin Surl and World Paralympian Mel Nicholls