Message sent to Road Safety Authority

Message sent on Wednesday 6 August to Road Safety Authority by – The Irish Cycling Advocacy Network in response to RSA press release issued Friday 1 August regarding rise in vulnerable road user fatalities

Michael Rowland (Director of Research)
Brian Farrell (Director for Communications)

Dear Michael and Brian

As a leader of a group of vulnerable road users, who are at all times in traffic (unlike pedestrians, and who generally choose when, where and how they cross our roads) could I plead with the RSA to alter its ‘blame-the victim’ approach to getting its message across. While I commend you for the generally better content and tone of the latest press release issue last Friday the RSA could do more to place the main responsibility on motorised drivers, particularly those who drive large vehicles – buses, coaches, HGVs, SUVs/4x4s.

Let’s be blunt about the fact: it’s the one tonne plus metal projectile with its driver that is the killer and maimer. We know from the international research literature that in the case of cyclists the majority of RTCs take place at junctions. The causal factor is driver miscalculation/error in approx. 90% of those analysed in Europe.

Drivers are going to have to accept that the car cannot be ‘king’ on our roads any longer. Many still believe that they are paying ‘road tax’ and that this gives them superior rights.  I get harangued in radio interview after interview by texters and callers-in or vox pops advancing the argument that because cyclists don’t pay this mythical road tax, we have no right to be there. Regional radio stations bring out a lot of  ignorant drivers who hold this view. I am fed up with this treatment. This is dangerous if left unchallenged by the Garda and the RSA. I can’t rebut it on my own!

We are quite concerned that vehicle manufactures still seek to head off better front-end conformation standards in the case of buses, coaches, vans, HGVs, SUVs and 4x4s. None would pass the EuroNCAP at present. Do you not think that the RSA should inform the public about the front-end hazard presented by these vehicle types in its campaigns. I am sure it would be a surprise revelation to the majority of drivers. You need to raise awareness about this issue.

We are working with The European Cyclists’ Federation (ECF), to which we belong, to stop manufacturers seeking derogations from incorporating safety features.

In relation to the 9 unfortunate cyclists who have died this year can I make the assumption that impact with a vehicle was involved in 8 out of the 9?

Could you please let us know the vehicle type involved in the 8 impacts and the number that were at junctions?

We note the marked rise in construction traffic around the GDA and we hope that all HGV drivers have viewed (during CPC) the advisory video that the RSA made with us and Dublin City some years ago. I am dubious that all do see it because when I did a HGV driver training session (with Michael McKenna) about cyclist awareness with Musgrave Group drivers last January none of the drivers knew about it. That worries me a lot. Is it mandatory for ADIs to use it in training?

I am just back from a cycling tour in the Charente-Maritime region of France and the HGV drivers there are just a reckless and inconsiderate of cyclists as here. All are overtaking far too close and fast so much so that the air-displacement effect seriously affects your ability to control the bike.

Could I plead with the RSA to bring about a paradigm-shift in how HGVs/coaches/buses interact with cyclists – drivers of these vehicles have got to reduce speed and keep a wide distance when overtaking cyclists to minimise the air-vortex effect. Exactly as they would do if overtaking a rider on a horse.

In your media releases and safety advisories the RSA constantly calls on cyclists to be ‘seen’. We would argue from experiential learning/bitter experience that drivers fail to LOOK properly so no matter how we are dressed/lit up we won’t be ‘seen’. I would ask that you reflect on this. The commonest excuse drivers give us when there has been an near-miss or actual impact is ‘Sorry I didn’t see you’ to which our reply is YOU DIDN’T LOOK. Remember we see right into vehicles so it obvious when a driver is LOOKING properly.

Please, please address this failure of some drivers to both look fully and properly and to expect cyclists to be present on all roads.



Chairman of – The Irish Cycling Advocacy Network