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Woman’s legacy could be making deadly Dublin junction “safe as possible”

— Cycling in Dublin needs “real life-saving change, at a faster pace”.
— “We must fight hard to change things” says brother.

Making a junction in Dublin as “safe as possible” would be the best legacy for the woman who died there three years ago, her brother has said.

Donna Fox was killed at the junction between Seville Place, Guild Street and Sheriff Street while cycling to work in 2016 when a truck driver turning left failed to see her.

Her brother, Neil Fox, said that he understands the sheer frustration of cycling campaigners who — as we reported last month — said the junction is “not much better off than it was before” after a recent redesign.

Kevin Baker, a cycling advocate with the Dublin Cycling Campaign infrastructure group, said: “Allocate for cycling is not just about money. It’s also about providing the space. Here’s an example of how get it wrong. This is a recently redesigned and reconstructed junction, where a woman was killed, that still leaves people on bikes dangerously exposed.”

Neil Fox said: “To me the best legacy for Donna is to make where she was killed as safe as possible. Rather than some ghost bike or plaque, that’s what counts. The site itself is where I go rather than her grave which seems odd to people but it’s where she left us.”

He said that residents on the street have been kind to him and are worried about the safety of the junction.

“The people who live right beside where Donna died have been so kind to me, they worry so much about that junction and were so angry when Donna was killed,” said Fox. “They felt they’d been begging for it to be made safer for so long and were getting nowhere so Donna’s death was a catalyst for the locality. They all got behind the need to change the area to make it safer more liveable too.”

In December and January, Fox asked people who use the junction what was their experience of it — he said that the amount of near misses was shocking and staggering.

IMAGE: Neil with his sister Donna.

“Their stories were so shocking I brought them to the Minister of Transport Shane Ross. The amount of near misses was staggering, the fact that so long after my sister was killed nothing had changed was appalling,” he said. “Shane Ross in fairness to him took a real interest in these stories and the department were delighted to be able to tell me the junction was going to be changed in a few weeks. I got a text from the Minister on day construction began. It was only then that it dawned on me that something really good was going to happen. It was emotional to be honest.”

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“However, I’ve now been hearing concerns about the actual construction and even doubts as to how much safer and practical it will actually be. I understand [cycling campaigner] Kevin Bakers sheer frustration at Dublin City Council, I share it obviously. We need to get this done right. No plasters on the wound, but real life-saving change. And at a faster pace.”

“Donna obviously would be alive today had we minimum passing distance legislation enforced and if that junction was properly protected. But they’re huge ifs and get us nowhere. Instead we must fight hard to change things. I’m most passionate about Seville Place site obviously. It’s weird that it’s been changed as in odd that the site is gone in a way, on a personal level, but it’s fantastic. The best way to honour Donna is to make that place a happy place for cycling.

His sister was in a cycle lane when she was killed and that “painted lines are not enough”. Fox said that the council adding flexi-bollards to the junction soon after her death was “a well meaning gesture” but “obviously not enough”.

Fox said he was not impressed by council officials at Velo-city, an international cycling conference held in Dublin at the end of June. The site of his sister’s last moments were at the back of the convention centre in the docklands.

He said: “It’s not personal they’re lovely people, but we need huge strong passion and vision for Dublin City. We need people with backbone, energy and commitment. I am not sure we have that in Dublin City Council.”

Fox added: “It’s vital National Transport, Dublin City Council, Department of Transport and Road Safety Authority take the bull by the horns and radically change Dublin’s cycling infrastructure and work at altering attitudes too. Cycling must be encouraged but also with that comes a duty of care. We need junctions like where Donna died to be unremarkable normal places to cycle not danger spots.”

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Cian Ginty

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