Fianna Fail TD continues party’s focus on safety gear for cycling

A Fianna Fail TD for Limerick, Niall Collins, is the latest parliamentarian to ask about the promotion of bicycle helmets.

While Deputy Collins’ request did not include compulsion, according to parliamentary records, a larger amount of Fianna Fail TDs and Senators have focused on mandtory clothing for cycling and walking in recent years compared to our report in 2015 covering how much compulsory bicycle helmets were raised by TDs and Senator over 15 years.

This year we have reported how the Fianna Fail transport spokesman, Robert Troy, has been pursuing the issue (he later clarified that: “Everybody, including pedestrians and cyclists, should wear high visibility vests”), last year the party’s senate spokesperson on justice Denis O’Donovan looked for mandatory high-vis for walking and cycling, and, in 2015, Niamh Smyth, a Fianna Fail TD for Cavan-Monaghan, also requested mandatory high-vis for walking and cycling.

According to records published on kildarestreet.com, Collins asked: “To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport to outline the options available to him to encourage all cyclists to wear helmets when cycling; if his attention has been drawn to concerns on same; and if he will make a statement on the matter.”

In a written reply published on May 23, Minister for transport Shane Ross said: “It is long-standing Government policy to recommend and promote the wearing of helmets by cyclists. Both my Department and the Road Safety Authority – which has responsibility for information and awareness campaigns – encourage their use. Opinion is divided internationally on whether the wearing of helmets is best pursued through statutory requirements or through other strategies, for example through publicity and educational campaigns.”

“Making helmets compulsory would raise a number of difficulties. In particular it would be necessary to have an enforcement system, with penalties for cycling without a helmet. The matter was considered during the preparation of the Road Safety Strategy 2013-2020. Although the Strategy strongly favours encouraging the use of helmets, it did not recommend making their wearing compulsory, and I have no plans at present to make the wearing of bicycle safety helmets a legal requirement,” said Minister Ross.

He added: “Encouraging the wearing of cycle helmets in Ireland is achieved by promotional, educational and publicity campaigns rather than by a punitive approach to the issue, particularly having regard to the large numbers of children and young people who cycle.”

5 Comments

  1. Good god, truly depressing stuff. As Chris Boardman said: plastic hats don’t even feature in the top-10 of issues around making cycling safer.

  2. Logical Thinking Required June 1, 2017 at 8:32 pm

    Wearing a helmet, high vis jacket etc. didn’t stop a car literally driving in to me today as I cycled in the cycle lane. It was extraordinary how the driver just glared at me as I ‘heart pounding’ shouted at them to get out of the cycle lane. There seems to be a huge gap in understanding that a large metal vehicle travelling at speed is much more dangerous to a human being on a bike than the other way round. Safe, effective infrastructure, less of a blame culture towards cyclists and all round respect and education would go a long way. But of course let’s legislate and penalise instead.

  3. I’ve recently had a Garda pull me over on the N40 to advise me it was an unsafe road to travel on given the drecent death of a man on the N22 which is connected it. I politely disagreed and he then suggested I wear brighter clothing. It was 11am in the day.
    Now we have this tool calling for helmets to be compulsory all on the back of the recent spate of cyclist deaths. Fun with the rise in gun deaths in Dublin I haven’t heard any call for people to stay off the street and those who do venture out be made wear bullet proof vests.

  4. Mike McKillen June 4, 2017 at 4:18 pm

    The really insidious reality of this ‘we don’t intend to make them compulsory’ rhetoric is that the courts are making decisions about apportioning blame in our adversarial litigation system when people who cycle are impacted by vehicles driven by a drivers who doesn’t know how to respect a rider’s vulnerability in traffic while not having a helmet of hi-vis at the time of the collision.
    It is serious and time to do something about it.

  5. Mike McKillen June 4, 2017 at 4:21 pm

    helmet of hi-vis = helmet or hi-vis!

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