Don't spoil the fun: make sure your road event is a safe one
* Tips from our Road Safety Authority expert to keep you safe if running or cycling on the road.
I took part in a road race recently that was organised by the local running club. It's a popular annual run and always attracts a good turnout.
The serious runners are out to set personal bests; the joggers enjoy the challenge and the walkers are out for some exercise.
About 4km of the run are on a regional road, the rest on local boreens. In briefing us the Run Director stressed that, while there were marshals along the route, it was up to us to obey the rules of the road.
A particular note of caution was sounded about wearing ear phones. I'm totally against them. Not on safety grounds as you might think, but because when I'm out running I love to hear the sounds of the countryside. The local gardai provided assistance too, especially on the busier sections.
I take my hat off to the organisers, all of whom were doing this on a voluntary basis. It was a really well-marshalled event. They had thought of everything to ensure our safety.
That was in stark contrast with the cycling race I came across a number of months ago on a busy national road. I came around a bend and had to slow down quite quickly. The hard shoulder on both sides for about 200 metres had been turned into a service park for the cycling road race.
Cars, competitors, bikes were crammed on the side of the road. People were crossing with little concern for safety. It was chaotic.
If you're organising an event, you have a responsibility to ensure the safety and well-being of those taking part and the public. Think about the organisations you need help from to run the event; the gardaí, first aid and so on. It is a good idea to have a committee to share the workload.
No matter what event you are organising, if it involves the use of roads for pedestrians, cyclists or motor vehicles, it is essential it is planned and organised in a way to ensure all road users are protected.
Think very carefully about using the public road to stage an event, whether it's a race or for charity.
If you go on to a public road you are increasing the chances of a collision happening.
If you decide to go hold an event on a public road you will need to contact your local gardaí and the Road Safety Officer in your local council.
Here are a few tips on what should be done:
* Establish a committee and assign overall responsibility for the event to an individual who will act as the overall event co-ordinator.
* Look for a location and route that has a suitable place for participants to assemble at the start. Ideally, this should have refreshment facilities and toilets nearby.
* Make sure any stopping places are big enough to safely hold the numbers expected at the event.
* Choose a suitable time of day - don't hold your event too late in the evening, as bad visibility and driver fatigue make collisions more likely.
* Get your permit (if needed) and check about legal matters. For example, if you want participants to sign a disclaimer, you might need legal advice on the wording.
* Check about insurance - any event of that nature must be covered by public liability insurance.
* Draw up a traffic management plan and pay particular attention to safety at high-risk areas. The plan should take account of access for emergency vehicles in the event of an incident. Communicate the traffic plan to all relevant participants. Each steward should be familiar with traffic arrangements in their area of control.
* Make sure there is first-aid cover available at the event.
* Lastly, make sure you have plenty of hi-visibility jackets for the marshals. You can order them free from rsa.ie.