Cyclists safety “best addressed by educational campaigns” – Ross

— “Personal protection equipment and high visibility clothing” features heavily
— Ministerial focus differs from detailed 2008 speech on cycle lanes

Minister Shane Ross said he has no plans for legislation to cover what the Fianna Fail spokesman for Dublin calls an “urgent need to address cycle safety”.

Despite high-level meetings between the Department of Transport and the Stayin’ Alive at 1.5 campaign, there’s no plan for a safe overtaking distance law.

New or improved infrastructure is hardly mentioned in a response from Ross, showing he is continuing to have a department focused an RSA-style approach, rather than focusing on the vision outlined in the National Cycle Policy of making our roads and streets cycling friendly.

According to KildareStreet.com, Dublin South West TD John Lahart asked the minister for his plans for the “urgent need to address cycle safety here and his plans to bring forward legislation relevant to cyclist safety.”

But Minister Ross said he had no plans for legislation. He highlighted the idea of promoting cyclists visibility using high visibility clothing.

“I have no plans at present to bring forward specific road traffic legislation regarding cycling safety. In my view, safety for cyclists is best addressed by way of educational and publicity campaigns, such as those undertaken by the Road Safety Authority (RSA),” said Minister Ross in a written parliamentary reply.

The minister continued: “The RSA promote awareness of the Rules of the Road and safe practice on our roads for all road users including the awareness of cyclists and other vulnerable road users among motorists and drivers of heavy commercial vehicles, in conjunction with promoting safe cycling practice by promoting awareness among cyclists of the need for visibility on our roads.”

“The current Road Safety Strategy, running from 2013 to 2020, contains measures to promote the use of personal protection equipment and high visibility clothing, which is heavily funded by the RSA, and developing a standardised road safety cycling proficiency training programme for schools,” he said.

He added: “My Department is funding the development and roll-out of ‘Cycle Right’, a new national cycling training standard which I expect will roll out nationally in 2017. Funding of approximately €37m has been allocated by the National Transport Authority for investment in cycling/walking projects, QBCs, safety integration and traffic management projects in 2016 covering the Greater Dublin Area and Cork, Galway, Limerick and Waterford.”

The approach taken in Minister Ross’s response last week is in stark contrast to a 2008 Seanad debate when Ross spoke in detail about the state of cycle lanes in Dublin.

Back in 2008, Ross said: “It would be appropriate if the Minister of State could give me some assurances that this matter is now a priority, not just for the safety of cyclists, but for the environment. I know he will probably say there was a grant in the budget yesterday, which gave €1,000 under a new cycling to work scheme. That is an encouragement to people to cycle but they are not going to do so if the lanes are dangerous.”

In a seprate parliamentary question, Lahart also asked if Ross’s “attention has been drawn to the fact that inappropriately designed and constructed cycle lanes can result in fatal outcomes for users; his plans to rectify this issue”.

Ross’s reply was again in contrast with his 2008 speech, he said: “While I have overall responsibility, as Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, for policy and funding in relation to roads and traffic, the design and construction of cycling infrastructure in Ireland is carried out in accordance with the criteria set out in the National Cycle Manual as published by the National Transport Authority.”

Another parliamentary reply shows that the Department of Transport plans to undertake a review of the National Cycle Policy “in the near future”.

(Main Kildarestreet.com link via jamesgallagher.ie)

11 Comments

  1. It’s unsurprising that Ross’s rhetoric has changed now that he actually has the power to do things. It’s a lot easier to complain that the other guy is doing things wrong when you know you won’t have any responsibility for making tough choices (but you get to claim credit for any good results). The difference in focus is clear hypocrisy though, I hope some pro-cycling voters in his constituency can hold his feet to the fire over this.

    I find it difficult to not see this focus on high-viz attitude as a ‘blame the victim’ exercise. I also think we all know that the national cycle manual is routinely ignored so that statement is not only evading the issue but factually wrong.

  2. ‘Department of Transport plans to undertake a review of the National Cycle Policy “in the near future”’

    That’s ominous.

  3. Great. His solution to prevent road deaths is education and publicity. Seeing that it was such a great success, he wants to repeat EDWARD (European Day Without A Road Death) which had two road fatalities only without the additional enforcement.

  4. Stephen McManus November 7, 2016 at 9:31 pm

    Imagine if Ross was given a difficult portfolio like health or education. We would be doomed.

    I said it before, this guy does not give a toss about cycling, we need to build up the pressure.

  5. Leave cyclists alone, educate the dangerous drivers

  6. what exactly was Lahart suggesting

  7. From 50 years of experience in road safety all over Europe we know that equal attention (and money !) must be paid to MAN – ROAD – VEHICLE. This policy and practice triangle of road safety analysis and project implementation is basic. Even the politicians in European Parliament are applying this three-fold and simultaneous (!) approach. So Minister Ross needs to spend money in all three perspectives if he was to be a successful minister.

  8. Really disappointing response from Minister Ross. The RSA policy of victim-blaming of VRUs has to be stopped where we are expected to wear body-armour and be lit up like Christmas trees. It has no basis in scientific evidence or safety practice as set out in workplace safety regulations which require the elimination of the hazard as the primary risk control principle.
    It is clear he has been captured by the RSA and is making no attempt to understand cycling in rural areas or congested urban traffic – but the hardly surprising since he has failed, so far, to grant Cyclist.ie a meeting.
    He hasn’t bothered to reply to the letter delivered by Cyclist.ie at the Protest last September.

  9. Oh well, it’s not just cyclists that need reforming….RSA Press Office thinks the solution lies in pedestrians’ hands too

    From Dublin InQuirer story re a woman campaigning for pedestrian safety on her walking route to her children’s primary school. IN KILMAINHAM, ONE WOMAN TAKES ON THE TRAFFIC
    CONAL THOMAS NOVEMBER 16, 2016

    “While Dublin City Council works on improvements to the public realm that benefit pedestrians, the Road Safety Authority is more concerned with just keeping pedestrians alive.

    The main issue is to make sure pedestrians know how to cross the road correctly, according to the RSA’s press office. And it has launched a campaign encouraging pedestrians to wear high-vis jackets.

    “These two issues are of particular importance as two-thirds of pedestrian fatalities were found to happen at night,” according to the press office”.

    So as long as Mary and her children wear hi-viz and cross the road properly, the rat-running, mobile phone use, light-breaking and inattention will magically evaporate

  10. I don’t know the area apart from visits to IMMA but Kilmainham Lane is certainly narrow. Does the council know how much traffic is local, ie people going to work/visit in Royal Hosp/Jail/Hilton etc? It’s difficult because council are not responsible for enforcement and as we know Garda Traffic corps has shrunk since the recession. Has any consideration been given to keeping out through traffic via bollards, making the area a cul de sac etc or is that not feasible? Yes it would be nice if motorists were more law-abiding but do they need to be there at all?

  11. Sorry meant last comment to go on Dublin Inquirer comment thread in the hope that journalist who wrote the story would know some more of the background

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: