Sinn Fein backed pro-cycling measures at their party conference this weekend but the headlines were grabbed by a delegate who said cyclists on the footpaths “are among the worst criminals”.
While delegates spoke about the benefits of cycling, one opposed to promoting cycling said: “I think that cyclists who cycle on the footpath are among the worst criminals, because there’s hardly a day when I step onto the street in Dublin where I’m nearly creamed by a cyclist when I’m standing at a bus stop.” If you don’t believe the quote, 98FM have the audio clip.
The pro-cycling motion from the Gerard Casey Cumann in Antrim was focused on Northern Ireland and was passed. It recognises cycling as a mode of transport with heath and economic benefits and calls on the Minister for Regional Development to:
- Bring forward plans to increase investment in cycling from the current amount of approximately 58p per person each year in the North to at least £10 per head of population.
- Direct the new Cycling Unit to consider the case studies of Amsterdam and Copenhagen in regard to introducing separate, safe bicycle infrastructure.
- Ensure cyclists are accommodated on Translink bus and rail services at all times and introduce adequate bicycle storage and racks on buses.
- Ensure that cycle lanes are kept clear and enforced.
- Introduce filter traffic lights and ‘bus stop islands’ for cyclists in towns and cities.
Separately, the Department for Regional Development’s Cycling Unit has said it is looking at upping the 58p per person budget to£4 per person.
Another motion calling for the support for the UK-wide ‘20’s Plenty’ campaign and the adoption of 20mph (30km/h) as the default speed limit in built-up areas was also passed. While 30km/h limits have proven to be controversial in Dublin, the equivalent 20mph limit in the UK are quickly gaining traction and large amounts of streets in London and other cities use the limit. 30km/h is also widely used across Europe, including in Germany, France and the Netherlands.
On social media, some complained or joked about the “among the worst criminals” comment. One user on Facebook questioned why the speaker was allowed to “rant”, a Sinn Fein spokesperson replied: “Every delegate is entitled to put forward their opinion on a motion and then those motions are voted on. We don’t review speeches members wish to make during a debate. That is democracy.”
Here’s a sample of the reaction on Twitter:
So Sinn Fein think Cyclists on footpaths are “the worst criminals”! Not murders, not bank robbers, not drug dealers…says it all #SFAF14
— Maria Mulvany (@mariamulvany) February 8, 2014
@cyclingindublin the Sinn Fein comments about cyclists were disgraceful. Maybe he should try cycling in Dublin and see from our eyes .
— Marc o brien (@spreemob) February 9, 2014
@sineadmahern so wrong for so many reasons
— Sinead Ahern (@sineadmahern) February 8, 2014
A Sinn Feiner shows his moral perversity, calling cyclists on the path “among the worst criminals”. http://t.co/JVCVzXCOVs Not murderers?
— hsh (@hughsheehy) February 9, 2014
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— Jamie O’Keeffe (@jamie_okeeffe1) February 8, 2014
— James O’Donnell (@bikefitie) February 8, 2014
Image: Wexford Quay by Sinn Fein, some rights reserved.