— “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)