Irish Rail should read the Rules of the Road before advising cyclists to

COMMENT & ANALYSIS: Irish Rail was rounded on for calling a person on a bicycle a “#crazycyclist” when they cycled by level crossing barriers just smashed by a driver of a van who was only given the tag “#WhiteVanMan”:

Views may differ between people on if #WhiteVanMan is as harsh as calling a cyclist — who hasn’t just caused thousands of euro worth of damage — crazy. Clearly both were in the wrong, but some of the advise from Irish Rail to cyclists afterwards was also wrong and misguided.

The Irish Examiner of course had an article covering the video. They also quoted an Irish Rail spokeswoman as stating: “We appeal to all cyclists to obey the rules of the road when passing through level crossings. For safety all cyclists should dismount when passing over level crossings.”

The problem with the quote is that the Rules of the Road section on level crossings states: “Cyclists – cross at right angles to the tracks or else dismount to avoid getting the wheels caught in the groove.” Maybe the #crazytraincompany should Read the Rules of the Road and stop putting up silly requests for cyclists to needlessly dismount?

The first place I ever noticed the cyclist dismount signs was on a straight level crossing beside Foxford station in Co Mayo — at this locations, just like on the N17 crossing pictured above, there’s nowhere safe to dismount to. The advice to dismount is bonkers.

Regardless of what’s written on signs, you have to balance your responsibilities and Irish road traffic law has a requirement that you do not act in a way which will endanger yourself or others.

You might expect a recommendation for cyclists to dismount where a road meets railway tracks at an acute angle which increases danger, that might be somewhat reasonable. But there’s few rural or urban level crossings that I can think of where there’s much of an acute angle, or safe space to dismount.

And, where there is space to dismount, there’s usually enough space for cyclists to cross at a right angle without affecting motorised traffic (like on this disused railway crossing elsewhere on the N17).

Given that, in the past, railway safety authority reports have criticised the volume of warning signs at level crosssings — it’s now time to review why Irish Rail are asking cyclists to dismount at crossings where there’s little risk between a bicycle and the tracks, while dismounting could increase risk of a collision with a motorist.

6 Comments

  1. It’s just all part of the pervasive culture that people on bikes (‘cyclists’) are somehow wrong to be on the road in the first place. The place for bikes is in the playground with the other kids.

  2. Yeah. I don’t see why we didn’t think of that before. It’s the ultimate solution to cyclist safety. Put “Cyclists Dismount” signs at every bridge, crossing and junction. Hell, just on every road.

  3. Irish Rail are concerned with safety. Not too long ago I responded to a motercycle burning in the center of a rail crossing. The driver lost control on a wet day and tipped over. His fuel tank leaked and his motorcycle was a write off. Walking a bike across the rubber matted crossing may not be such a bad idea after all? Shame there is always a conspiracy theorist thinking everyones after their cycling rights.

  4. Perry — you’re talking nonsense because (a) dismounting with a bicycle on a main road with no space to do so is not safe and (b) bicycles have crossed most of the level crossings in the country for 100 years without much issues.

    If there’s some special problems at some level crossings, Irish Rail should seek funding from the NTA or department to fix their designs.

  5. @Perry
    So are you saying that people on motorcycles should dismount at every rail crossing?

    The article is about how Irish Rail seem to have a confused idea of the law in relation to bicycles. So you tell us a story about how a motor vehicle crashed at a rail crossing and use that as some sort of support for Irish Rail’s incorrect idea of the law?

    Bizarro world.

  6. what sort of fool would use rubber matting for a road surface on a crossing, wet rubber is one of the lowest friction surfaces available.

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