independent

Friday 28 July 2017

Cycle safety vital for all

'County Hall Photo' L-R Graham Russell Louth County Council Sports Centre Manager/Recreation Officer, Adrian OSullivan, Road Safety Officer, Eugene Mulholland LCC Employee and Commuter Cyclist
'County Hall Photo' L-R Graham Russell Louth County Council Sports Centre Manager/Recreation Officer, Adrian OSullivan, Road Safety Officer, Eugene Mulholland LCC Employee and Commuter Cyclist

Louth local authorities highlighted the importance of cycle safe as an increasing number of local people get on their bikes for fitness, to commute, as a competitive sport or for charity.

With the surge in popularity, there are now many more cyclists using the road network. Along with pedestrians, cyclists are among the most vulnerable road-users. Regrettably, every year there are several cycling fatalities on Irish roads with collisions involving cyclists accounting for 1 in 25 road deaths annually and many non-fatal accidents has resulted in serious head injuries.

'Of the seven road fatalities that occurred on County Louth roads in 2016, three of them were cyclists. This accounted for 30% of fatal accidents involving cyclists nationally in 2016,' said Adrian O'Sullivan, Road Safety Officer for County Louth.

'Figures show that, 1,268 cyclists in Ireland sustained serious or minor injuries in collisions in 2012 and 2013. All users whether in a motorised vehicle, cyclist or pedestrian are entitled to share the road and if we're considerate of each other, we'll see fewer needless accidents and deaths,' he added.

In many cases drivers do not demonstrate enough caution and awareness when sharing the road with cyclists. Drivers should always consider the following when cyclists are on the road. Firstly, allow at least 1.5m clearance when overtaking as this will help to ensure that cyclists have enough space if they need to adjust their steering or avoid any obstacles on the road.

Secondly, before making a left-hand turn check there are no cyclists approaching. Thirdly, check that there are no oncoming cyclists before opening the door of your vehicle. Failure to do this could knock a cyclist off their bike or cause them to veer into the path of oncoming traffic in order to avoid hitting the driver or vehicle door.'

He added that cyclists also need to be aware of their vulnerability when sharing the roads with bigger, more powerful vehicles, and to exercise common sense.

'Make sure you are visible to other road-users by wearing high visibility material together with a protective cycling helmet and legally compliant lights and bells and always follow the Rules of the Road. Simple, proactive steps such as 'hanging back' at junctions to avoid getting caught in a 'blind spot' between a lorry and left hand turn will help to ensure you continue to cycle safely and reduce the chances of a collision occurring. When using a cycle lane, always travel in the same direction as the general traffic.'

Sé Weston from Cuchulainn Cycling club explained the importance of road safety and adherence to the rules of the road for all cyclists.

'Nearly 100% of adult cyclists are also motorists and as a result they have a greater understanding of a cyclist's vulnerability while sharing the road. We believe that all cyclists young and old should understand the safety issues associated with cycling, as the promoted health and environmental benefits combined with the growth in bicycle ownership at all ages, means that we will be sharing the roads well into the future.' He added that Cuchulainn Cycling Club has run cycling skill programs through local primary schools and has established beginner's courses for adults either starting or returning to cycling.' The injury or death of either a cyclist or a motorist has tragic consequences for the individuals, their families and those responding to the incident.

Tolerance and awareness of the need to share road space safely by all road users is necessary to avoid any more of these tragic events.'

Louth Local Sports Partnership deliver a wide range of events throughout the county as part of Bike Week including; A School Cycle on the Carlingford - Omeath Greenway in partnership with An Taisce, a Coffee Morning cycle and a Family Fun Cycle both in partnership with Cuchulainn Cycling Club.

For a full list of events and to join in a cycling adventure this June, log onto bikeweek.ie.

Irish Independent

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