November 21st, 2017
Ireland’s leading cycling organisations have blamed Government inaction for a rise in the number of cyclist deaths this year after two more riders died on Irish roads this month.
The two deaths bring the total number of people who have lost their lives while cycling this year to 14, making 2017 the deadliest year in more than a decade.
In a joint statement, members of Cyclist.ie, Dublin Cycling Campaign, IBIKEDublin, Safe Cycling Ireland & Cycling Without Age said that they are “sick and tired of the silence and inaction by government” when it comes to cyclists’ safety.
The groups have been calling for increased funding and resources for cycling infrastructure and also want to see an increase in the number of Garda Traffic Corps, from 700 to 1,200.
The groups said, however, that their requests have “fallen on deaf ears” to date. “Cyclists continue to be killed as a result,” the statement continues.
Chair of Cyclist.ie, Colm Ryder, said that the Government needs to invest urgently in cycling infrastructure to protect vulnerable road users from this “increased tragic losses of life”.
“Our thoughts are with the two most recent casualties, who came from both ends of the age spectrum. This trend needs to be reversed, and can only be reversed by the Government making the right decisions and investing more in active travel,” he added.
Dr Paul Corcoran of Dublin Cycling Campaign added that that the Government also needs to act now to clamp down on vehicles fly-parked in mandatory-use cycle tracks.
“Illegally parked vehicles force cyclists out into the fast-moving traffic-stream putting riders at increased risk of being hit. They are not an aid to doing business,” he said.
The Dáil must also work to pass the Minimum Safe Distance Passing Bill, according to Stephen McManus for IBIKEDublin. The Bill would ensure that motorists must pass cyclists no closer than 1.5 metres on a road with a speed limit of 50 km/h or higher.
“The people who choose the most dangerous mode of transportation must carry the most responsibility for the safety of other road users,” said Mr McManus. “Every death is one too many.”
The groups will be holding a vigil in memory of the people killed while cycling on Irish roads at 5.30pm today outside the gates of Leinster House on Kildare Street.
‘Vision Zero’ approach
The Green Party has also called for the Minister for Transport Shane Ross TD and the Road Safety Authority to introduce a ‘Vision Zero’ approach to road safety. A similar program has been in place in Sweden since 1997 and has seen a dramatic reduction in road deaths and serious fatalities, according to the Greens.
Green Party Transport Spokesperson Councillor Ciarán Cuffe said that it is not enough to “throw free lights and high-viz vests at cyclists” which can result in a “victim-blaming culture”.
“Instead we need a comprehensive approach that tackles driver behaviour, road geometry, lighting, speed limits and other factors,” he added.
Latest figures from Dublin City Council reveal that the number of cyclists traveling around the city centre has grown to almost 100,000 this year. Cllr Cuffe said that the dramatic rise in urban cyclists must be matched by investment in cycling safety and improved facilities, including segregated bike lanes on busy urban roads.
“It is not good enough to regret another death on our roads. We are all complicit until such time as we place road safety higher on the agenda,” he added.