Road safety: looking out for cyclists
Number of cyclist deaths this year has doubled
Road safety applies to everybody – motorists, cyclists and pedestrians. All are vulnerable and have duties of care to each other. A doubling in the number of cyclist deaths this year prompted the Road Safety Authority (RSA) to launch a campaign asking motorists to allow a 1.5m passing distance when overtaking. Legislation to that effect is before the Dáil but it is difficult to see how penalties could be imposed. Its usefulness may lie in impressing on motorists the vulnerability of cyclists and the need to respect them as road-using equals.
Excessive speed is one of the greatest threats on the road. But impact with a cyclist or pedestrian at even 50km an hour carries a 50 per cent death threat. Dealing with that particular vulnerability requires personal visibility, a redesign of dangerous junctions and greater traffic awareness by all. The number of pedestrian deaths greatly exceeded that of cyclists over many years. Until now, that is. Cycling organisations are now seeking greater investment in cycle lanes and road improvements to make roads safer and user-friendly for everybody. That is the way to go. But cyclists have their own responsibilities regarding lighting; high visibility clothing and helmets; clear signals; awareness of visual black spots on lorries and strict adherence to the rules of the road. Motorists should recognise their particular vulnerability, slow down and give them more room when overtaking.
The number of cyclists in Dublin and other cities has grown exponentially in the past decade. As a cheap, healthy and environmentally friendly means of transport, it would be a terrible shame if concerns about road safety stifled its growth. Most fatal collisions occur at road junctions, according to the RSA, and it has conducted a number of campaigns designed to raise awareness of this with truck drivers, motorists and cyclists. Seven of the 11 deaths recorded this year took place outside of Dublin. That may reflect inadequate investment in rural roads and cycle lanes, rather than individual fault. Whatever the reason, greater care by all road users is required.