Thursday 25 April 2019

'I know the sense of complete desolation... but I have hope' - brother of tragic cyclist Donna Fox

Neil Fox is confident a new bill can make a difference to cyclists' safety on Ireland's roads

Neil and (inset) Donna
Neil and (inset) Donna
Kathy Armstrong

Kathy Armstrong

The brother of a road victim has said he is confident a new bill can make a difference to cyclists' safety on Ireland's roads.

Neil Fox's beloved sister Donna (30) died after she was hit by a truck while cycling in Dublin City Centre on September 6 2016.

He has become a devoted campaigner for cycling safety, a particularly important message as 15 cyclists have been killed on our roads so far this year - compared to 10 in 2016.

Neil said he is now hopeful for the future after Transport Minister Shane Ross agreed to bring forward an amendment to include the Minimum Passing Distance Bill.

The amendment was brought about by Deputy Minister Regina Doherty, Junior Minister Ciaran Cannon and campaigner Phil Skeleton.

He told "I really hope that Shane Ross will take a chance on this bill and push it through and fully back it.

"I've had positive dealings with the Department of Transport and he has shown with his Drink Driving Bill that he isn't afraid of culture changing legislation.

"I have met with Shane Ross about cycling safety concerns and funding as well to voice my support for the Minimum Passing Distance bill to become law, and he was very engaged in the issues, so we just hope he will start to follow through now in the new year."

He also said it's important to remember that the devastation that road crashes have as he urged people to exercise caution.

"This Christmas was the first Christmas without 15 people who got on their bikes in 2017 and never returned home, that's the reality.

"Each table had one less person at it, I know the sense of complete desolation.

"My message to all road users is to protect yourself and others, be kind to each other on the roads."

"And to cyclists - think of Donna as you mount your bike, not in a morbid way - but in a self protective way. Do what you can to be safe."

The number of cyclists killed on Irish roads grew from 10 in 2016 to 15 so far this year.

Those who lost their lives were:

  • Tonya McEvoy (34) died after a collision with a car in Rathcoffey, Co Kildare on February 12
  • Daragh Ryan (30) was struck by a vehicle leaving Phoenix Park in Dublin on March 12
  • Des Butler (50) was killed in a collision with a van on March 26 near Bunratty in Co Clare
  • Luby Maryori Arroyave Ramirez (30s) died in a collision with a truck in Templeogue, Dublin on March 27
  • Robin Ball (62) was a cyclist who was knocked down near Skibbereen in Cork on April 21.
  • Annette Mannix (48) lost her life after an incident with a tractor in Killarney, Co Kerry on May 10
  • Donal O'Brien (46) had a fatal collision with a car on the Ballincollig bypass in Cork city on May 14
  • Patrick McHale (54) died following an incident with a bike in Rathoreen, Ballina, Co Mayo on May 28
  • US tourist Janet Price (60s) was travelling around the Gap of Dunloe in Kerry when she collided with a 4x4 on May 30
  • Padraic Carney (53) was involved in a fatal traffic collision in Rathfarnham, Dublin on June 19
  • Annette Carlos (65) died after a collision with a tractor on the N28 Cork/Ringaskiddy Road in Cork on September 13
  • Pat Beakey (70) was killed in an incident involving a car near Kentstown in Co Meath on November 12
  • Ryan McCarthy (25) died after a collision with a road-sweeping truck in Rathfarnham, Dublin on November 17
  • A male cyclist (39) lost his life in a collision involving his bike and two cars in Tonevane in Tralee, Co Kerry on November 22
  • Eric Rutter (40s) died in a collision on the Dunnmore Road near Woodstown, Co Waterford on December 3

Heather Boyle, Communications Officer with Cycling Ireland, sympathised with the loved ones of cyclists who lost their lives on Ireland's roads this year.

She said: "As the year draws to a close we are sad to reflect on the increased number of lives lost due to the road collisions involving bikes, and offer our sympathies to all the families, friends and clubmates of those killed. We don’t want to see another year like it."

She called for a change in our thinking and warned against an "us versus them" mentality that can be seen between some road user.

Ms Boyle said: "There are more cars on the road, and more bikes on the road; it’s incredibly important that all users are aware of this, and pay attention to what they are doing.

Donna with her late mother Catherine
Donna with her late mother Catherine

"Innocent people have lost their lives, families have been left devastated. We need everyone to be more patient on the roads, and more aware of their environment.

"You do see negative comments relating to cyclists online and I wonder what we can do to get people to think before they type?"

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