Cyclists are one of the most vulnerable groups of road users and unfortunately are all too often the innocent victims in accidents caused by inconsiderate or reckless drivers.
High Number of Fatalities Already Recorded
Tragically, every year some of these accidents result in fatalities, but the number of deaths that have occurred already this year have raised concerns that 2017 will be one of the worst years on record for cyclist fatalities
Figures released by the Road Safety Authority
(RSA) to mark National Bike Week revealed that nine cyclists have already lost their lives on the roads this year, compared to three deaths for the same period in 2016.
If this trend continues, then 2017 will see a sharp spike in annual cycling deaths compared to previous years - according to the RSA there were only nine fatalities in 2015, 13 in 2014 and five in 2013.
Ireland’s annual National Bike Week took place in June and safety organisations took advantage of the event to remind drivers of the importance of sharing the roads safely and in particular to slow down and give space to cyclists.
“Cyclists are among our most vulnerable road-users, yet many drivers do not demonstrate enough caution and awareness when sharing the road with cyclists,” explained Ms Moyagh Murdock, Chief Executive of the RSA. “Drivers need to pay greater attention to their speed, as drivers are becoming increasing distracted by mobile devices and they are also speeding in our towns and cities.”
“Our own studies have found that 82% of drivers are exceeding the 50km/h speed limit in urban national areas,” she added. “To put this in context, nine out of ten pedestrians hit by a vehicle at 60km/h will die. Hit at 50km/h survival is literally the toss of a coin.”
Vulnerable Road Users
Safety coalition Love 30
, which campaigns for lower speed limits, has echoed the message that speeding drivers are one of the greatest threats facing cyclists.
It highlights that approximately one third of all accident fatalities are speed related, and calls for drivers to be aware of their speed levels and the potential to kill or maim vulnerable road users, particularly in urban areas. The campaign group has called for the introduction of a 30 km/h speed limit on many roads in Irish towns and cities as a key road safety measure.
“We are one group out of thousands of groups, all around the world, calling on drivers to slow down,” said Love 30’s Mairéad Forsythe. “We must accept that speed is a critical factor leading to deaths on our roads and change our behaviour accordingly.”
Increasing Cyclist Numbers
The number of cyclists on the roads rises during National Bike Week, but even without this event there has been a general increase in cyclist numbers
, particularly in Dublin where research found that the number of cyclists entering the city has more than doubled between 2010 and 2016, increasing from 5,952 to 12,089.
This rise obviously means more cyclists are potentially being put at risk if drivers don’t adapt and modify their behaviour to ensure the safety of more vulnerable road users. Unfortunately, Dublin has apparently already seen three cyclists die in road traffic accidents according to Colin Ryder of the Dublin Cycling Campaign, who described the number of deaths as “a frightening situation that cannot continue”.