All posts by John

Latest Tragic Cycling Death Unacceptable, the Irish Cycling Advocacy Network, is troubled and saddened by the recent death of a cyclist in Co Meath last weekend, bringing to twelve the number of people killed while cycling in Ireland, so far in 2017.  This is more cyclists than were killed in all of 2016.  All of these deaths have involved motor vehicles.  We would like to convey our deepest sympathies to the family of the latest victim and indeed to the families of all those killed on our roads.

Colm Ryder, Chairman said “These deaths have not been caused by accident; they have been caused by avoidable collisions.  Collisions arise because of error, incapacity, inattention or distraction on the part of drivers or cyclists, with inadequate design or maintenance of roads or vehicles as contributory factors. Other factors that contribute are lack of awareness of, and/or respect for people who cycle, and dangerous driving such as speeding and dangerous overtaking.”

We are calling on the following immediate actions to reduce or eliminate the risk to cyclists on our roads:

  • We call on the Minister for Transport, Shane Ross, to increase funding for cycling, invest in safe, well designed infrastructure for cycling and to introduce necessary changes in the law such as the proposed Minimum Passing Distance Law (Note: Less than 2% of transport funding is allocated to cycling. This low figure compares with a UN recommendation to allocate 20% of Transport funding to cycling.)
  • We call on the Minister for Justice, Charles Flanagan, and the Garda to improve and increase enforcement of road traffic laws, especially in relation to cyclists’ safety and well-being.
  • We call on the RSA to increase its efforts to improve road safety for vulnerable road users, and in particular to bring about improvements in the education of drivers to be more aware of, and to give adequate space and respect to cyclists and pedestrians on our roads.
  • We call on all road users
    – to drive with due care and attention,
    – to refrain from speeding and using mobile phones and other distractions,
    – to refrain from drinking and impaired-driving,
    – to keep their vehicles roadworthy, and above all
    – to be aware of, and respect each other on the road.

As we have stated so many times cyclists do not throw themselves at motor vehicles with a death-wish. There is something wrong with traffic on our roads.

NTA Makes Dog’s Dinner of Cycle Quality

The NTA have made a dog’s dinner of cycle facility quality. Yes they are concerned about quality and yes they refer to it in the National Cycle Manual but does anyone outside the NTA really understand it?

When people are booking a hotel or apartment, they have an understanding of the ‘Star’ system of ranking. They may not understand the difference between a 2 star and 3 star hotel but they understand that a 3 star hotel is more luxurious or offers better facilities than a 2 star one and they would expect to pay more for it (all other things being equal).

So what is the story with the quality of cycle facilities? There are five levels of service – A+, A, B, C and D. Any cycle facility which does not fall into the first four is category D. Width is one of five determinants of quality the other being number of conflicts, percentage of HGVs on the route, pavement condition and journey time delay. (There has been some modification to pavement condition as a result of the development of the Greater Dublin Cycle Network but the amendments have not been incorporated into the written or digital version of the Manual.) Width is by far the most important determinant so what does the Manual say about width and level of service? The Manual assesses width in terms of the number of adjacent cyclists as shown below.


Quality of Service

No of Adjacent Cyclists












So is the width of Level C the same as Level D? And is the width of Level A the same as Level B? What width is necessary to achieve category A? In Section 1.5.2 of the Manual, there are references to widths of five cycling regimes but the Manual does not state if the cycling regimes corresponds to the Level of Service, and furthermore the exact meaning of different regimes is unclear and open to interpretation. For example what does basic two way mean? It can mean whatever you want.

Section 1.5.1 of the Manual Determining Width includes the following The designed width of a cycle facility is comprised of the effective width, i.e. the space that is “usable” by cyclists, as well as the clearances that will be required in different circumstances.

Effective width as opposed to designed or constructed width is a very important concept as it takes edge conditions into account. This is important as local authorities often provide a 2m wide cycle track which with a kerb adjacent to the footpath on one side and another kerb adjacent to a traffic lane on the other, only has an effective width of 1m.

To make matters worse, the minimum standard is defined as 3m, but whether this is effective width or designed/constructed width is not clarified and it does not define whether this is one way cycling shared with two way pedestrians or two way cycling shared with two way pedestrians. As 3m is the minimum standard in accordance with the National Cycling Manual, it is assumed that the level of service for cycling is the fifth and lowest category ie D. Then, just when you think that the NTA couldn’t complicate things further, they succeed.

In 2015, they published a Permeability Best Practice Guide which also has five levels of service but in this case they are A,B,C, D and E.

Section 3 of the Guide defines widths for the different Quality of Service (see below) but doesn’t define whether these are effective or constructed widths.


Quality of service

Minimum Width (m)












The Best Practice Guide states that local authorities in urban areas should aim to provide a Level A quality of service for any pedestrian or cycle links between residential areas and destinations such as schools and shops. Not unreasonably, the document goes on to point out that Level A will often be unachievable due to constraints but at least sets out a high target.

So where does that leave the common situation that arises where one section of a route has segregated cycle facilities and the next section has a 3m wide shared footway? Using the permeability criteria, the shared section is ranked category B and C (second and third) but using the National Cycle Manual criteria, it is D (fifth). What would you think of an organisation which ranks a hotel as one star, three star and four star at the same time? The idea of a star ranking is good. It gives politicians and the general public a crude but widely understood assessment of quality. However, the time to properly define its use is long overdue.

This article originally appeared on the website of Maynooth Cycling Campaign.

Ironic that the NTA HQ features a vehicle parked outside on the pavement

Dangerous overtaking

OK so you have been out cycling and you feel the chilling effect and intimidation of wind displacement and vibrations caused by a close passing vehicle. You know the feeling from previous incidents but this time you are using an onboard or head camera and you’ve recorded the incident on your ride. You’re mad as hell and want to report it to the Gardaí.

RSA launches website in support of new drink driving bill is pleased to see the RSA taking Drink Driving seriously

The Road Safety Authority (RSA) has today Friday 6 October, launched a website, to provide factual information on drink driving in Ireland and to dispel the many myths and misinformation in relation to the problem of drink driving in Ireland.

The new site,, is being launched to support the proposed change to strengthen drink driving penalties contained in the Road Traffic (Amendment) Bill 2017. It features factual information outlining the road crash data, scientific research on the impairment effects of alcohol on driving.

The Road Traffic (Amendment) Bill 2017 proposes a change to the penalties for drivers who chose to drink drive at blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels between 50-80mg. The Bill does not propose to change Ireland’s drink drive limits.

Under the proposed legislation, drink driving offences committed at BAC levels between 50mg and 80mg will incur an automatic disqualification of 3 months instead of the current penalty of a €200 fine and 3 penalty points.

Commenting on the new website, Ms, Moyagh Murdock, Chief Executive of the Road Safety, said: “The website has been developed to provide the public, elected representatives and the media access to facts in relation to drink driving. It has also been created to counter the myths, and distorted facts that have been put into the public arena by vested interest groups and individuals. Interest groups that have ignored the pleas of victims’ families to support the introduction of the new measures and turned the perpetrators of drink driving offences into victims. The proposed change in legislation increases the penalties so offenders will lose their licence at a lower alcohol level than currently. This is vital if we are to have an effective deterrent that changes the behaviour of the small group of people in this country who continue to drink and drive.”

“I urge the public to take a few moments out of their day to visit this useful and informative website and familiarise themselves with its content. I believe that the facts and data on the site will convince people of the merit in the proposed change to drink driving penalties. The site also provides downloadable social media banners for users to show their support for the bill, and I would urge people to show their support by downloading them and sharing.”

Mr Shane Ross, Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport said; “I welcome the RSA’s new website in support of my Road Traffic (Amendment) Bill 2017. Astonishingly, many vested interest groups and their supporters continue to deny the factual evidence about drink driving, turn their faces away from the traumatic experiences of road traffic victims and more specifically, distort information which proves that this legislation needs to be introduced. I urge politicians, publicans and the general public to access this user friendly site, inform themselves of the facts, support this Bill and help to save lives on our roads.”

The information contained on the site includes:

  • Drink Driving – Fast Facts
  • Alcohol as a factor in road crashes
  • Every victim has a story
  • Attitudes towards drink driving in Ireland
  • Drink Driving Enforcement
  • The Morning After – what happens?
  • Supporting Rural Ireland
  • Drink driving best practice

The site also features national and international research into the impairment effects of alcohol, incidence and impact of drink-driving. Recent and historical drink driving campaigns, and provides downloadable social media banners for users to show their support for the bill.

Please visit

Cycling Needs €145 Million Per Annum – Not Hype & Spin

Since Census 2016 published the report on commuting in June, there has been much hype and spin in the media about increases in cycling. However, the emphasis on a much lauded increase of 42% in cycling to work puts a false gloss on the results. Percentage changes are meaningless unless related to a time span and a starting point so the Department of Transport’s spin doctor should stop combining multi year results and instead report the results in terms of annual increases. In this case the time span is five years from the previous census and the 2016 level of cycling nationally is an overall low of 2.68%. As this was approximately the level of cycling in the year 2000, cycling nationally has essentially flat-lined since then.









On foot
















Bus, minibus or coach








Train, DART or LUAS








Motor cycle or scooter








Motor car: Driver








Motor car: Passenger








Other means (incl. Lorry or van)








Work mainly at or from home








Not stated








Total Students/Workers

(Rows 1-10)*








Total Commuters (Rows 1-8)








%Commuting by Car (Rows 6-8)








%Cyclists wrt Total Commuters








Source: Census 2016

Table 1: Means of Travel to Work, School and College (Nationally) 1986-2016

The increase in cycling from 2.19% in 2011 to 2.68% in 2016 is an increase of 22.6% for all people working and in education rather than the headline figure of 42% which only refers to people working. This increase equates to a more modest increase of 4.15% per annum. This would be good for a country with a high level of cycling but bad for a country like Ireland which is starting from a very low base. The increase in cycling by working people offsets a more modest increase in cycling by students to secondary school who are arguably a more important sector of the population as they are an indicator of future levels of cycling rather than ‘middle aged’ men in lycra who rediscover cycling. In this context, the greater number of female students driving to secondary school rather than cycling is a continuing cause of concern. By way of contrast, Vancouver reports annual increases of more than 30% per annum and Transport for London (TFL) report that bicycle use increased by 70% in six months on part of the high quality London Superhighways.

While the level of cycling in Dublin and other Irish cities is higher than the national level of 2.68%, Vancouver achieved 10% cycling to work from a low base in 1997 and Seville has increased its modal share for cycling from less than 0.5% in 2006 to around 7%. The National Cycling Policy Framework includes a target of 10% commuting by bike by 2020. At the rate of progress of the last five years in Ireland, the 2020 target will not be achieved nationally until 2047. This is the key statistic which comes out of the Census results and with the hype and spin stripped away, the lack of commitment and lack of progress is obvious. The implications for urban areas – more congestion, more air and noise pollution, decreased levels of activity by the general population and increased demands on the health services – are all too obvious. The failure to meet European targets on climate change will almost certainly result in a greater financial burden on the country.

Irish politicians have been “supporting” pro-bicycle policies for some twenty years but their continuing ineffectiveness is clear. When politicians in the Netherlands decided to design for bicycles rather than cars in the 1970s, the change was apparent within a year with the BBC sending a camera team overseas to record the radical developments. For similar change to happen in this country, the government must

  1. Significantly increase funding for cycling from its current levels of €12 Million per annum to €145 Million per annum, and
  2. Appoint a National Cycling Co-coordinator to the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport in accordance with the 2009 National Cycling Policy Framework.

A budget of €145 Million for cycling would amount to 10% of the 2017 transport budget and would be in line with WHO recommendations. This funding is already available under the normal budgetary process and is entirely separate from the Mid-Term Review of the Capital Budget but to date there has been no commitment at a political level to prioritise the funding of walking and cycling. The emphasis on rural greenways may seem attractive to politicians but unless hard political decisions are taken to curb private cars and to prioritise cycling in urban areas, mass cycling will remain like the draining of the Shannon – a political aspiration. In the short term, the lack of political reaction to increasing cyclist fatalities and the postponement of decisions on safe cycling infrastructure in Dublin City do not augur well.

Great Dublin Bike Ride

It was terrific to see so many out on the Great Dublin Bike Ride last weekend organised by Cycling Ireland. We hope that the increased numbers taking part in Sportifs is translating – and continues to translate – into more and more people seeing cycling as the best way to commute in towns and cities. But not just commuting of course – we maintain there is HUGE potential for far more trips to the shops, GAA / soccer / rugby matches and training sessions, and night-time cultural events (for example) to take place on the bike! We are only just beginning to crank up our campaigning.

See also DCC Facebook & lots of pictures here

Legality of Bull Bars

From: Vehicle Standards Section, Road Safety Authority, via Email on 1 August 2017

Thank you for your query regarding frontal protection systems, more commonly known as bull bars, which has been passed to me for our direct response. The legal position on these is as follows;
EC Regulation 78/2009 lays down the requirements for the type-approval of motor vehicles relating to the protection of pedestrians and vulnerable road users. This Regulation contains specific requirements for frontal protection systems that can be approved for use on a vehicle and has replaced Directives 2005/66/EC and 2003/102/EC since 24th November 2009. EC Regulation 78/2009 has been transposed into Irish law in the Road Vehicles Entry into Service Regulations (S.I No. 157 of 2009) and the Mechanically Propelled Vehicle Entry into Service (S.I. No. 448 of 2007). he technical requirements of Regulation 78/2009 in relation to frontal protection systems do not differ from the requirements of Directive 2005/66/EC which was in place since 21st May 2007.

Currently frontal protection systems, either fitted by a vehicle manufacturer or supplied as separate technical units[1] and intended for fitting to new passenger cars (category M1 vehicles) and light goods vehicles (category N1 vehicles) must meet the requirements of EC Regulation 78/2009. Systems for fitment to these vehicles must satisfy a number of tests, including energy absorption, before they can be type-approved for use on new vehicles. Also, Type Approved frontal protection systems must not be distributed, offered for sale or sold unless accompanied by a list of vehicle types for which the frontal protection system is type approved, as well as clear assembly instructions. The proof that a frontal protection system meets with the requirements of Directive 2005/66/EC or Regulation 78/2009 is the presence of an e-mark.

Once vehicles are in service they must adhere to the requirements set out in the Road Traffic (Construction, Equipment & Use of Vehicles) Regulations (S.I. No. 190 of 1963). Article 32 states that vehicles “shall not have any inessential object in a position where it is likely to strike any person involved in a collision with the vehicle, unless injury is not likely to be caused by reason of the projection of the object”. Furthermore Article 96 states that “every vehicle while used in a public place shall be such, and so maintained and used, that no danger is likely to be caused to any person”. Owners or drivers of vehicles breaching these regulations may be found guilty of an offence under Section 11 of the Road Traffic Act 1961 as amended.

It is important to note that all frontal protection systems fitted or made available for fitting to new vehicles at registration or before entry in to service since 21 May 2007 must bear an e-mark. If it does not, then the vehicle should not be registered or allowed entry into service. It should also be noted that there are currently systems fitted and in widespread use that bear manufacturers’ logos but do not conform to the relevant type approval requirements. Such systems, which are most often fitted to a vehicle post registration, are not made by the vehicle manufacturer and would not be shown to have the necessary levels of pedestrian and vulnerable road user’s protection as required by EC Regulation 78/2009. If such devices were fitted to vehicles in use on a public road, such use may be in contravention of Articles 32 and 96 of S.I. No. 190 of 1963 as highlighted above and the driver/owner of that vehicle may be guilty of an offence.

Enforcement of the Road Traffic Regulations is a matter for An Garda Síochána and interpretation is a matter for the courts.

[1] ‘separate technical unit’ means a device subject to the requirements of a regulatory act and intended to be part of a vehicle, which may be type- approved separately, but only in relation to one or more specified types of vehicle where the regulatory act makes express provisions for so doing;

Trusting this clarifies the situation for you.

Kind regards Brian Forde Vehicle Standards