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'Anything can happen when you're riding a bike' - New TV ad a response to 50pc increase in cyclist deaths

Our Road Safety Authority expert explains why we should make travel safer - and how we can do it


Despite 2017 being the safest year on record for road safety, there was a worrying 50pc increase recorded in the number of cyclists killed.

A total of 15 cyclists died as a result of road traffic collisions last year - a figure that is up significantly from 10 in 2016 and nine the year before that.

These year-on-year increases are concerning, and with more and more cyclists taking to the roads, action needs to be taken.

To that end, the Road Safety Authority (RSA) is launching a new road safety campaign to create awareness of the safe distances motorists should give when overtaking cyclists.

Cycling is popular for several reasons - it's great exercise, it's cheap and it cuts down on travel time, especially during rush-hour.

Cyclists, however, are also among our most vulnerable road users. From 2011 to 2016, 54 cyclists were killed, and 4,404 casualties were recorded.

Consequently, motorists have a responsibility to respect their right to the road.

The RSA's new campaign, which is based on a similar best-in-class campaign developed by the Transport Accident Commission in the state of Victoria in Australia, urges drivers to slow down and leave space when overtaking cyclists.

It stresses that drivers should always allow safe passing distances for cyclists, adjust their behaviour to suit the road environment, including slowing down, and ensure they pass cyclists at an appropriate time.

Our new 30-second TV advertisement recommends allowing at least one metre overtaking distance when passing cyclists in speed zones up to 50kmh and at least 1.5 metres when passing at speeds above 50kmh.

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The new campaign provides visual cues to show a safe passing distance, with each rider spreading their arms between their bike and a passing car to indicate the room they require to stay safe.

The campaign tag line is 'It's a little bit of space for a lot more safe' and it is a timely and important intervention, especially given the popularity of cycling is on the rise.

Recent surveys as well as results from the last two censuses show that there are more cyclists on our roads, cycling for longer distances.

Between the 2011-2016 census there was an overall increase of 34pc in cyclists commuting to work, college or school.

The increase in cycling to work was 43pc, meaning there are more cyclists on the road during rush hour traffic.

The National Travel Survey 2016 has also shown a rise in the number of journeys taken by pedal cycle when compared to 2013 (1.3pc of all journeys) and 2014 (1.6pc; 2016 - 1.7pc).

As well as an increase in journeys, the average distances travelled by cyclists increased by 14pc and the length of journey time increased by 18pc between 2013 and 2016.

So, with more cyclists on our roads, there is every reason for motorists to be more aware of them and treat them as fellow road users.

A rise in the number of cyclists does not have to equate to a rise in the number of cyclists killed, or at least not if all road users take greater responsibility for their safety and the safety of others.

So here are some tips for motorist when sharing the road with cyclists:

* When overtaking, leave plenty of space. Cyclists may need to avoid drains or other obstacles.

* Allow at least one metre overtaking distance when passing cyclists in speed zones up to 50kmh and at least 1.5 metres when passing at speeds above 50kmh.

* On left turns, do not overtake a cyclist as you approach a junction - they might be continuing straight ahead.

* Always be aware of cyclists when getting out of your car - use your mirrors and check your blind spots,

* When turning right, a cyclist may move to the centre of the lane - make sure to allow sufficient space.

Cyclists are entitled to road space as much as cars, vans, goods vehicles or indeed any other vehicle on the road.

We all share the road, so please, respect cyclists and always expect the unexpected.

And before you start sending in those emails to the Editor - this is a two-way street. Cyclists must also obey the rules of the road too.

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