A person cycling is killed in a collision involving a truck, Irish Times thinks this “prompted questions” on “safety of e-bikes and e-scooters”

Comment & Analysis: The Irish Times is being strongly criticised for publishing an article this evening which said that the death yesterday of a person using an electric bicycle who was in a collision involving a truck driver “prompted questions around the safety of e-bikes and e-scooters”.

In the aftermath of the collision yesterday the truck involved was pictured some distance away from the mangled bicycle. The truck was an articulated truck with six axles and a trailer designed to carry aggregate.

...I'm sorry to disrupt you while you're reading this article, but without messages like this, IrishCycle.com's reader-funded journalism won't survive. With 676k views so-far this year, it's not just "avid cyclists" that this website reaches. But the number of subscribers is around 0.6% of readers. This large gap between readers/subscribers is standard for non-paywall reader-supported journalism, but IrishCycle's journalism needs more support. Don't delay, support monthly or yearly today. Now, back to the article...

But the headline on The Irish Times article today is “E-bikes: What are the regulations and what can be done to make them safer?”

The fifth paragraph of the news article includes this stunning line: “The incident in Dolphin’s Barn has prompted questions around the safety of e-bikes and e-scooters – so what are the facts and figures on safety, and what is the law?”

It’s unclear what the relationship between electric bicycles and e-scooters which promoted a news reporter or editor to link the two issues together in regards to a death involving a truck.

The article is being called victim-blaming and, with the available information, it’s hard to see how it’s not. It is to me at least very odd to be linking an explainer-type article to a road traffic death which little has been confirmed about how it happened. If The Irish Times knows more, they have yet to feel sure enough to report on the details.

The article instead covers a confused jumble of issues edited together. It starts with the acceleration of the plans for legal changes mainly aimed at motorists, outlines the number of overall road deaths this year, and then acts as an explainer article of the legal situation regarding electric scooters and bicycles. It feels like something that was supposed to be at least two separate articles but was cobbled together.

In the middle of the article, readers are treated to an apparently random list of collisions involving both electric scooters and electric bicycles. What connection do these have to each other or what could possibly be gained from linking very different types of collisions and anybody’s guess.

As if the article was not bad enough, there is also a lack of clarity around some of the issues of the explainer part of the article, defining what is a bicycle or not. This is minor compared to the very striking linking of things which are not related to apparently make the issue about the safety of electric bicycles rather than the safety of large trucks.

The day after the death, just after midday, the Dublin Cycling Campaign tweeted: “We in the Campaign are deeply upset at the tragic loss of life at Dolphin’s Barn Bridge yesterday. Someone’s friends and family are struggling in shock and disbelief that will bleed in to years of grief. We extend heartfelt condolences.”

It’s very hard to understand how editors in The Irish Times around the same time were greenlighting an article of the nature of which they published just after 7pm.

The response from The Irish Times needs not just to be a retraction of the article, but to issue an apology. Sadly The Irish Times has a history of rarely standing up and admitting its mistakes. This bullish attitude will do more damage to the newspaper than it thinks.

5 comments

  1. Yes, you could just as easily blame lack of legislation to enforce hands free mobile use in vehicles. Was it a factor? Who knows…

    Or maybe look at truck driver training when it comes to giving priority and space to pedestrians and cyclists in cities.

    Likewise dangerous blind spots in truck and SUV design when at traffic junctions.

    The headline could just as easily be ‘ Are Trucks safe to drive in our busy cities with inadequate segregation of cyclists’

    Reply
  2. I agree with all of the above comments and I would like to express my deepest and sincere sympathies to the victims family. May he RIP.

    The Irish Times article is certainly at the very least grossly insensitive to the victims family.

    Thanks to Cian for your long-standing campaigning on behalf of the long suffering cycling community and for such a huge volume of ongoing general research of the highest quality.

    Reply
  3. Flowers have been left at a pole beside the accident site on the Bridge. The pole clearly has a sign that 5-axle trucks are not allowed here. The truck has been reported as having 6 axles, including a trailer. Surely the Gardai should be involved here? It’s dreadful if illegal trucks are using our city streets with no enforcement. It’s making them very unsafe.

    Reply
    • Hi Eric, I just want to make clear that the article does not imply that the truck should or should not have been where it was. I have no way of confirming such and trucks with more than 5 axles can get permits to enter the ban area.

      The Gardai are investigating the collision.

      Reply

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.