15 is the provisional number of people killed while cycling on roads in the Republic of Ireland in 2017 — it’s the highest number of cycling deaths in one year since 2007, and above the 20 average.
The number is provisional because others deaths which were the result of injuries sustained while cycling may not yet be recorded as cycling road traffic collision deaths.
Significantly, all of the 15 collisions in 2017 included the involvement of motorists — that compares to the 2016 and 2015 when the number of collisions were at least 50% lower and three collisions in each of those years did not involve motorists (mainly single-vehicle collision and one case of a pedestrian walking across a cycle path).
In line with the trend in recent years, most of the deaths last year were in high-speed zones — in area of 80km/h and above. It means a large majority of collisions (nearly 67%) are in speed zones over 60km/h — the speed at which national and international guidance recommends segregation between bicycles and cars.
Even when the limits are broken-down, the largest percentage of collisions (33.4%) were on roads with a speed limit over 100km/h, including a collision on a non-motorway bypass with a 120km/h speed limit.
The Dublin City Council area, which is host to by far the highest number of commuters using bicycles, suffered one (1) fatal cycling collision — retaining its low number of cycling deaths which has averaged just over one death per year in the last decade.
However, the South Dublin County Council area within the M50, some of which also has a relatively high percentage of cycling commuting, suffered three cycling deaths this year — including one in Terenure and two in Rathfarnham.
Co Kerry and Co Cork were the joint counties with the second highest number of deaths, with three deaths in each county.
Counties Meath, Mayo, Clare, Kildare and Waterford all had a single cycling fatality each.
The names of the victims and the details of the collisions are as follows:
- February 12: 34-year-old Tonya McEvoy died after a collision with a driver of a car in the village of Rathcoffey, Co Kildare.
- March 12: 30-year-old Daragh Ryan died while cycling on the Conyngham Road in Dublin City in a collision with a motorist exiting the Phoenix Park.
- March 26: 50-year-old Des Butler died after a collision with a driver of a camper van at an exit ramp junction of the N18 in Co Clare.
- March 27: Luby Maryori Arroyave Ramirez, who was in her 30s, died after a collision with a truck at a roundabout in Terenure in south Dublin.
- April 21: 62-year-old Robin Ball died in hospital a week after a collision on a local rural road about two miles from Skibbereen town in Co Cork.
- May 10: 48-year-old Annette Mannix, who was cycling in a group at the time of the collision, died after a after a collision tractor and trailer on the Killarney bypass, Co Kerry.
- May 14: Donal O’Brien died after a collision with the driver of a 4×4 car on the 120km/h (non-motorway) Ballincollig bypass near Cork city.
- May 28: 54-year-old Patrick McHale died after a collision with a driver of a car on the Ballina to Killala road in Co Mayo.
- May 30: Janet Price, a tourist in her 60s, was in a collision with a driver of a 4×4 at the Gap of Dunloe in Co Kerry.
- June 19: 53-year-old Padraic Carney, a principal of a primary school in Rathmines, died after fatal road traffic collision with the driver of a car in Rathfarnham in south Dublin.
- September 13: 65-year-old Annette Carlos died after a collision with a driver of a tractor on the N28 between Cork and Ringaskiddy Road in Co Cork.
- November 12: 70-year-old Pat Beakey died after a collision with a driver of a car between Kentstown and Balrath in Co Meath.
- November 17: 25-year-old Ryan McCarthy died after a collision with a road sweeper in Rathfarnham in south Dublin.
- November 22: 39-year-old Roger O’Halloran died after a collision also involving two cars at Tonevane near Tralee, Co Kerry.
- December 3: Eric Rutter (40s) died after a collision with a driver of a 4×4 on the R684 road between Waterford City and Dunmore East.
Road Safety Authority (RSA) analysis of the overall road deaths in 2017 highlights that: “Seven of the  fatalities occurred on a Sunday, three on a Tuesday, two
each on Wednesday and Friday and one cyclist fatality occurred on a Monday.”
The high Sunday figure, along with notable number of collisions in rural areas and on high-speed roads is one of the indications that most of the deaths are from leisure or sportive cycling, mostly not from commuting cycling.
The RSA also found that “Thirteen [of the 15] collisions occurred during daylight conditions and two collisions occurred during hours of darkness.” This follows previous RSA data showing visibility conditions to be limited factors in cycling collisions resulting in death.
On ages, the RSA said: “All cyclists killed were aged 25 or older. Five were 25-39 years of age, seven were between 45 and 64 years of age and three were aged 65 year and older.”
Using the data available to IrishCycle.com, including some estimation, the average age of the people killed on roads while cycling in 2017 was 48-years-old.
ANALYSIS: Where 2017 stands
Each one of these numbers is a death of a person and — as with a growing number of countries — the target should be zero road deaths.
The number of deaths increased in percentage terms by 50% between 2016 and 2017. It should be noted that the yearly number of cycling deaths in the last decade was mostly in single digits and the fluctuation of the year-by-year level of deaths can be large (ie 5 deaths one year and 12 the next) — this means small changes can show up as large percentages. For example, this means there was a decrease of nearly 40% in one year followed directly by an increase of 140% the next year.
Some caution should be taken in using the percentage change as a target. For example, between 2003 and 2004 there was a 0% change but the death rate still remained at 11.
15 deaths in 2017 far below the high number of cycling deaths in the 1990s, but it is above the last 10-year average (9) and the 20-year average (11).
The trend is down from the highs of the 1990s (above and first 20-year image below), but a polynomial trendline (second image) shows that the trend in recent years is an increase in deaths. A large caveat is that the increase is more pronounced because of 2010 and 2013 had the joint lowest death rate on record of just 5 people cycling killed in the whole country in both of those years.
This article is part of long-term research and data collection by IrishCycle.com on cycling deaths on Ireland’s roads. This data and historically data is being added to a database to look at tracking the prevalent factors — because of its draft status, on-going or potential road traffic court cases, and sensitivity to the families of the victims, we cannot make this data more widely available at this time — however, we welcome suggestions, and links to or copies of older reports we may have missed or which are not available online.