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Bike Safety Campaign

Thursday, 26 November 2009

What are the pros of wearing a helmet whilst riding a bike? How do you fit and wear a helmet correctly? How can we take more care on the roads? These and many other questions will be answered!

We will hear from various experts (from medicine to road safety), who will present their cases over the coming weeks. The campaign will finish today.

Last Wednesday (18th Nov) we saw the heartbreaking story of Sam Fleming. Sam had a cycle accident in September 1997 at the age of 19. As a result of falling from his bike, he suffered a traumatic brain injury and has been confined to a wheel chair ever since - he wasn't wearing a helmet.

On Thursday (19th) - we had a lively debate between Mr Conor Egleston, Emergency Consultant Our Lady of Lourdes, Drogheda and James Nix. Conor was pro helmets, James believing that there isn't enough scientific evidence to back up the claim that a helmet can prevent serious injury and that we need to look at the bigger picture, i.e. bike safety in general. Yesterday we spoke with Padraic Quinn from the Safer Cycling Initiative who demonstrated many aspects of bike safety for children.

Why is it Relevant Today?
On 1st January 2009 a new government scheme to encourage people to cycle to work came into force. Cycling is not only cheap and reliable; it also keeps you fit and enables you to do your bit for the environment!

It's not just the hoi polloi who cycle; RTE Six One's News Reader Brian Dobson, Radio DJ Ray D'Arcy and our very own Sheana Keane all regularly 'get on their bikes!' However, there is a downside to life on the road. Whilst the aforementioned all don their helmets and reflective clothing, many people continue to cycle without the appropriate attire. Cycling is becoming ever more popular but the fact that wearing a helmet isn't compulsory in Ireland is even more disturbing considering the amount of children that cycle every day.

The Road Safety Authority has developed many educational programmes to raise the awareness of cyclists. The overall aim of these programmes is to develop safe cycling habits and to ensure that the cyclist knows and obeys the rules of the road which take into consideration the points that you have highlighted.

Dublin City Council organised the first National Bike Week in June of this year - The council also has its own dedicated Cycling Officer, Ciaran Fallon - It's his job to encourage more people to cycle and to cycle safely!

Ciaran Fallon - Cycling Officer - Dublin City Council

Ciaran is Ireland's first local authority cycling officer. Ciaran works in the Roads and Traffic Management section of Dublin City Council. His goal is to get more people cycling, more safely, more often. His focus is both upon hard measures (infrastructure such as cycle lanes and junction treatments) and soft measures (promotions, events and training). Ciaran has been in this role since January 2009

One of the main barriers to cycling in Dublin is perception of risk. International research has shown that there is a strong link between cycling numbers and cycling safety. The more people, the safer each kilometre cycled becomes and as the less people that cycle, the riskier cycling becomes. Cycling numbers in Dublin are on the increase and at the same time the accident rate is decreasing. This accords with the so-called 'safety in numbers' effect and bodes well for the future of cycling in the city.

The item is essentially broken up into two parts:

(i) Advice for cyclists to ensure safety on the roads and
(ii) Advice for other road users, particularly car drivers. (It doesn't matter how many safety measures a cyclist takes if other road users are not driving with due diligence!)

1. Are more of us dumping the car and taking to cycling?

. Whilst there was thought to be a decline in cycling, cycling numbers in Dublin are up 30% in the last five years and at the same time, the serious accident rate is dropping - which is good news.


2. Ok, well we want to talk about proper use of the road by ALL road users, but let's start with cyclists.

. Well first of all, cyclists must obey the rules of the road just like any other road users.
. A bicycle is a road vehicle in the eyes of the law and the same rules regarding traffic lights, yielding and rights of way apply.
. For example, when stopping at a junction, try to adopt a position at the head of the traffic queue - use the advance stop line if this is provided. Try to be a conspicuous to other road users as possible but do not go over the stop line.
. Use cycle lanes when available.

. So, it's so important to ensure you are seen! Always use lights front AND rear during the hours of darkness (it's the law!!!) Avoid wearing dark clothing - and of course improve your visibility by wearing high visibility clothing, vests or belts

. Just as other road users are expected to do, always signal your intention to change direction. This is done simply by extending your left or right arm Remember, look, signal, look again then move on when safe to do so.
. Be aware that other road users are not able to predict your personal journey and need you to let them know where you are intending to go.

. Be aware of other road users and be vigilant. Particularly when it comes to junctions. For example: HGV drivers have large blind zones. Left turning HGV's cause many more fatalities than any other manoeuvre. Hold back and let the HGV move ahead.
. Never ride any closer than 0.5m from the kerb for two reasons (i) this is where they are least conspicuous and (ii) it's the part of the road that has drainage and tends to collect debris.
. Cyclists should plan ahead and maintain a steady line.
. Be vigilant to changing weather. Cyclists are advised not to cycle in heavy fog.


Cyclists can abide by all the rules but if other road users don't then accidents can happen.

. Always observe the speed limit and observe general safety guidelines during adverse weather conditions.

. Observe the rules of the road when it comes to driving and parking in cycle lanes
. Where advance stop lines are provided at junctions, leave them clear for cyclists.

. ONLY overtake cyclists when it is safe to do so! You should give a clearance of NO LESS than 1.5m and indicate to signal to drivers behind that you are passing an obstruction of some kind.

. On the road, expect to use the road with other vehicles including cyclists. Therefore, take extra care at junctions where cyclists are present. Not all cyclists follow correct procedure so it's best for other road users to predict all possible scenarios when cyclists are present and be aware accordingly.
. When changing direction, particularly turning left, motorists should check, signal, check again then manoeuvre.

And finally, last year's budget in October signaled a move by the government to encourage more cyclists on the road with the 'Cycle to work' initiative, what is that?

. Well, this is where an employer can opt to buy an employee a bicycle and cycling safety equipment up to the value of €1000. The employee can then spread the repayment of that bike back to their employee over the next year's monthly wage. Plus there are tax incentives for employers.