Friday 15 December 2017

'Horses treated better on roads than cyclists' - campaign group's strong words as death toll rises

Stock image
Stock image

Kathy Armstrong

Horses are treated better on our roads than cyclists, a campaign group has claimed.

Dr Mike McKillen from www.Cyclist.ie was speaking after it emerged that at least seven cyclists have already died here this year.

So far in 2017 57 people have lost their lives on our roads, down eleven from the same period last year.

Seven of those fatalities were cyclists, this is compared to three year-on-year, furthermore ten cyclists died on our roads during 2016 and nine in 2015.

In the past few days two cyclists have tragically died on our roads in Co Cork and Co Kerry.

The Road Safety Authority released the figures to Independent.ie today and urged road users to be cautious.

Cyclists (Stock photo)
Cyclists (Stock photo)

Read More: Why Dublin cyclists and pedestrians are more at risk now than in winter

An RSA spokeswoman said: "Cyclists, pedestrians and Motorcyclists are our most vulnerable road users.

"It is the responsibility of all road users to share the road safely, it is a shared space.

"We would ask  motorists to look out for vulnerable road users because regardless of who is at fault in the event of a collision the speed of the vehicle at the time of impact will determine if the pedestrian or cyclist suffers serious injury or death."

The spokeswoman also advised cyclists to take precautionary safety measures.

She said: "We advise all cyclists to make sure they are seen and wear high visibility clothing and to have a light on the front and the back of their bike and always wear a helmet."

Read More: 'I haven't been me since I heard Donna died' - Heartbroken brother of tragic cyclist

Dr McKillen spoke about the sharp increase in cyclist fatalities here.

He said: "I'm appalled, this figure is shocking and unacceptable, cyclists shouldn't be dying on our roads.

"We could achieve a Vision Zero policy where you plan for no road deaths, much like airlines - who have excellent safety records.

"We have a police force who are failing to enforce road traffic laws, they need to be out on the roads monitoring drivers but it's not entirely their fault, it's also government policy.

"In 2007 there were around 1200 gardai in the traffic corp, that figure has fallen to just under 700 today.

"Whenever someone retires or leave the traffic corp they haven't been replaced and so through austerity and government policy our traffic corp has been completely decimated."

Dr McKillen is backing the proposed Road Traffic Bill, which would bring in minimum overtaking distances and new speed limits for drivers on roads where there are cyclists.

He said: "This bill has been opposed by a cohort of rural TDs, I just can't understand how you can be against something that protects the lives of cyclists.

"Speed limits must be imposed properly, it's like if you see someone with a horse on the road, you slow way down and give them plenty of space, if you're willing to do that for a horse you should be happy to do that for a person.

"At the end of the day cyclists are humans and our lives matter too."

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