COMMENT & ANALYSIS: Back in February we reported how Cosain, a Galway-based road safety campaign group, objected to a Garda Chief Superintendent wanting to give penalty points to people who did not wear high-vis jackets while walking and cycling on public roads and streets. However, local reporter isn’t happy with Cosain’s stance.
Dara Bradley, a reporter and columnist with the Galway City Tribune, on Friday make a rather personal attack on Cosain’s PRO, Simon Comer.
With a fairly sickening headline — “Cosain’s death wish?” — Bradley says that for “some reason” Cosain had an issue with what Garda Chief Superintendent Tom Curley had said.
For some reason (to borrow a phrase), Bradley fails to mention that Chief Superintendent Curley had proposed fining people for walking or cycling without high-vis. Not a single country in the world fines people for not wearing high-vis on city streets and roads, but Bradley was fine with including that suggestion in his report on the Galway City joint policing committee, as if it was hardly noteworthy.
Does his position tell a lot about the prevailing from the windscreen view in Galway? It might do. Galway has a relatively high cycling modal share (for cycling in an area away from Dublin), but its streets and planning are very much so motoring-focused and there’s little signs of that changing. Cork and Limerick are trying to accommodate cycling, but it’s hard to count Galway in that. Councillors in Galway even fought against some key public bike sharing stations.
Bradley isn’t interest in research, he says “Cosain can quote all the research they want” — Bradley knows the facts and the fact apparently is that high-vis will make people more visible and that will save everybody.
But the truth is that high-vis will stop motorists from hitting people, just as well as the much larger area of high-vis stops bridges — like the one pictured below — from being hit by trucks and buses: The thing is, buses and trucks continue to hit such bridge, this one and others like it:
High-vis isn’t a solution because high-vis can’t solve inattentional blindness (which we’ve written about in detail here), or motorists overtaking other road users without giving them enough space, or motorists pulling out in front of people cycling.
What about people cycling in the dark? There’s these things called bicycle lights and it’s already illegal to cycle in the dark without them. It’s more of a problem that some people who cycle see cheap high-vis as an alternative to even half-decent lights which are far more effective and proven. Chief Superintendent Curley might be well advised to enforce current laws for bicycles and car before trying to dream up new ones.
The truth is that high-vis has failed. It’s promotion has failed and it will never be made mandatory for walking and cycling everywhere. The suggestion of making it mandatory is daftness — you might as well try to make it mandatory for all clothes to include high-vis elements. It’s never going to happen.
Bradley ends by saying: “What will they tell us next – that wearing life-jackets won’t diminish your risk of drowning?” It shows that he is blind to or is in denial of the main problem: Poor driving. The life jacket analogy would only work if he thought that life-jackets save people from shark attacks… maybe he does?