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Cycling training to be rolled out to school across Ireland in 2016

— Summer campaign to highlight need for drivers to take extra care
— RSA also to study use of personal protection equipment

Cycling safety training for children in schools across Ireland is to be rolled out “early” next year, the minister for transport Paschal Donohoe said this week.

The measure is part of the National Cycling Policy, which also promises to make such training based on a national standard open to adults.

In a written reply to a parliamentary question, minister Donohoe said: “The RSA (Road Safety Authority) is currently involved in producing a National Cycling Standard, in conjunction with Cycling Ireland and my Department, with input from a number of other stakeholders. The Standard will focus on ensuring an introductory level of road safety training on bicycles to school children, and preparing them for cycling on the public roads. The project is targeted for implementation across all schools nationally in early 2016.”

The Department of Transport, Sport and Tourism last year appointed Ireland’s cycling sporting body to set up and administer a safety standard for all cycling on public roads. As we reported last September, the department of transport defended blurring the official lines between cycling as sport and a mode of transport.

It is understood that the standard being developed is similar to but not directly based on the UK’s Bikeability programme for schools and adults, mainly on cost grounds. The Irish standard is instead to be built on the Dublin City Council Bike Start Programme which was launched in 2009.

The minister also said that other measures are to be introduced by the Road Safety Authority sooner than next year.

“A new advertisement campaign has been developed for airing this month and in the summer 2015.  The ad focuses on cycle safety and is aimed at cyclists and drivers, and in particular the need for drivers to take extra care when sharing the road with cyclists,” the written reply in the minister’s name said.

It added: “In addition, the RSA are producing a short vodcast (video podcast) to highlight the blind spot on HGVs as well as conducting observational studies on the use of personal protection equipment – high visibility clothing, for example – by cyclists.  The results will be available on their website later this year.”

The transport minister was responding to independent TD Finian McGrath, based in Dublin North Central. His parliamentary question said: “To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his views on a matter (details supplied) regarding the Road Safety Authority; and if he will make a statement on the matter.” The phrase “(details supplied)” is usually used to in the public record to hide the names or details of individuals who TDs ask questions for.

The minister also said: “While the range of measures undertaken by the RSA in this area will always be subject to adjustment in response to need, I am satisfied that the Authority is fully engaged in this vital area.”

MORE: Department defends putting sporting body in charge of cycling safety is reader-funded journalism. That means it's funded by readers like you.

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