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Environment : Road Safety Last Updated: 2, Apr 2018 - 10:02

Road Safety Update 7 Jan 2015
By Noel Gibbons
8, Jan 2015 - 07:51

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A TOTAL OF 12 cyclists have been killed on Ireland's roads in 2014 and along with a 59pc increase in cyclist injuries . Cyclist fatalities have more than doubled on 2013 figures which saw five cyclists killed.

A road safety officer in County Mayo has called on motorists to be aware of the dangers of not giving cyclists a safe distance when overtaking.

Mr Noel Gibbons Road safety officer said "If the road is too narrow for a vehicle to overtake a cycle at a distance of 1.5m, then that vehicle must travel behind the cycle until it is able to overtake it lawfully."

Last year the Queensland Minister for Transport Scott Emerson announced a two-year trial of a minimum passing distance for motorists who are overtaking cyclists: one meter on roads with speed limits up to 60km/h and 1.5m on faster roads.

If Ireland was to introduce a similar rule it would bring the country into line with several other EU member states where a 1.5-metre minimum passing distance has been adopted, such as Germany, Spain and, other than in urban areas where it is 1 meter, France.

Here's is a clip taken on a straight piece of road with no other traffic on the road coming from either direction. The cyclist was cycling from Wexford to Dublin to visit his two daughters. This driver made no effort to overtake in a safe manner at all. The cyclist was wear bright yellow clothing stating give cyclists 1.5 m when over taking.

A Campaign that was founded in April 2013 called Stayin' Alive at 1.5 in Ireland by Phil Skelton in Wexford who lived in Australia for a number of years and saw first hand the benefits of a 1.5m law.


Stats provided by RSA

The outcome that we're looking for is for cars to stop hitting bikes. We want people not to hit bike riders in their cars when they're on the road because the reality is that the majority of crashes that lead to bike rider deaths involve a vehicle."

But educating new drivers is only one part of the equation: there are millions of drivers around the country who already have a license. Educating existing drivers about the importance of giving cyclists enough room is easy when those drivers are cyclists themselves (or when they have a friend or relative that rides), but for the many drivers who don't and never will ride a bike on the road, the challenge is considerably more difficult.

Most collisions are not due to a simple driver error in calculating the distance from the bike. These collisions can be caused by impaired drivers - that is, drivers who are drug- or alcohol-affected, or prescription drug-affected, or have physical impairments such as eyesight or macular degeneration, or simply old age and cognitive impairment. Or they're due to a range of distracted driving causes - working on the mobile phone, having a dog in the car, talking to kids in the back seat, eating in the car, changing clothes in the car, this two has to be addressed by enforcement and education.

So the issue we have to address is, what are drivers doing in their cars? We have situations where drivers have ploughed into the back of bikes where the passengers have clearly seen the bicycle ahead on the road but the drivers haven't. So there's an issue here where drivers appear to be blind to the presence of bikes on roads and that's a major concern. And that's where serious investigation needs to be undertaken.

According to a recent extensive study by the American League of cyclists, 40pc of cyclist fatalities are caused by collisions from the rear. Most of these probably occur as a result of motorists 'taking a chance' and skimming past the cyclist when it really isn't safe to do. Providing clarity with a defined safe overtaking law has helped with this in no small way in other jurisdictions. On page 43 of the rules of the road, it says that 'you SHOULD give extra space when overtaking a cyclist'.

Here is what it looks like at a recent launch of an online petition with Sean Kelly.


We have a dangerous overtaking law here in Ireland which recently got one extra penalty point added to it . Figures from the CSO on citations of this law indicates that there are around 400 of these per annum; not a lot when you consider the amount of vehicles and the amount of journeys carried out. This figure is not further subdivided as to reflect the dangerous overtaking of cyclists.

Phil Skelton said: "The value of introducing a safe overtaking law in conjunction with a safety campaign is that one is crystallised by the other allowing its full effect to take place.

In Queensland for example a recent survey done by the Amy Gillette Foundation after just 6 months of the trial there found that 75% are aware of the legislation, 67% support the legislation and most importantly 61% of cyclists have experienced greater distance from overtaking motorists. Ad campaigns alone can come nowhere near this outcome especially in such a short time".

The return of the Axa Road Safety Roadshow in association with Mayo County Council

Mayo County Council in association with AXA Insurance is issuing an invitation to the public to attend at the AXA/Mayo Road Safety Roadshow on February 5th 2014 at the TF Royal Theatre in Castlebar.

Noel Gibbons, road safety officer, Mayo County Council, explains: "The Roadshow has been running in Mayo since 2007 and has proved to be very informative. It depicts graphically how a night out ended in tragedy and permanent disability for one young driver.

"The Roadshow is aimed at transition year students and the objective of the show is to encourage young drivers, and those about to commence their driving career to adopt a more responsible attitude in terms of their own driving behaviour. The consequences should they fail to do so will be clearly and graphically demonstrated.

"During the show, young people will have an opportunity to benefit from presentations made by An Garda Síochána, Ambulance Service, Fire Service, a consultant based within A&E Department in Castlebar General, a family member of a deceased road traffic accident victim, a car crash survivor and a undertaker."

"We believe that this is a very worthwhile event, which will hopefully leave a lasting positive impression on the young people present. There will be two sessions of the shows - the show will commence at 10.45am sharp."


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