Tag Archives: Health&Safety

All health & safety issues, inc. diet & lifestyle; also helmets

Latest 2020 Road Traffic Collision Data Shows New Road Safety Strategy and Funding Are Urgently Required

Cyclist.ie ,the Irish Cycling Advocacy Network, welcomes the recent Garda Siochána and Road Safety Authority road safety appeal in advance of this June Bank Holiday weekend. However  Cyclist.ie is strongly of the view that the publication of Ireland’s new road safety strategy must be brought forward.

Just as for Slow Down Day one week ago The Road Safety Authority (RSA) and An Garda Síochána renewed their appeal for road users to take extra care on the roads this weekend. Shocking provisional collision figures for 2020 show that there has been a 17% increase in the number of fatal crashes and a 9% increase in road deaths compared to the same period last year.  Pedestrian deaths have doubled to 18 compared to  9 in 2019. The number of collisions is particularly disappointing at a time when Covid 19 restrictions meant that traffic levels  have been greatly reduced.

Cyclist.ie Chair, Colm Ryder stated that the effectiveness of all elements of the current road safety strategy needs to be examined.  Mr Ryder said, “ It almost beggars belief that at a time when people are working from home, businesses are closed, and traffic levels have been significantly reduced, that fatalities have actually increased” 

Mr Ryder suggested that the  new upcoming Road Safety Strategy must adopt the Swedish Vision Zero/Safe Systems approach. The Swedish Safe Systems Approach states that “human life and health are paramount and take priority over mobility and other objectives of the road traffic system”

However, a strategy is of no value without the means to enforce it and Mr Ryder stated that the new government must provide the Garda with sufficient resources for roads policing.   “While we acknowledge the work of the Garda in enforcing road traffic law, collision and fatality statistics are a clear indication that current levels of enforcement are insufficient”. The desired operational strength of the Garda Road Policing Unit is 1200 but at the start of 2020 the number of garda deployed was just over 700. 

While we await a new strategy and enhanced budget we can still act to reduce speeding on our roads. Mairéad Forsythe of Love30, Ireland’s campaign for lower speed limits stated that  government and local authorities need to step-up.  “Once again, we appeal to the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport to do the right thing and introduce a default 30km/h in all urban areas, and in areas where people walking and cycling are sharing space with cars, buses, trucks and HGVs.”

Slow Down Every Day, not just One Day

The Irish Cycling Advocacy Network, Cyclist.ie, welcomes the enforcement by An Garda Síochána of a 24-hour National Slow Down Day on 22nd – 23rd May 2020.

Yet unlike Christmas Day, Slow Down Day should be every day. 

An Garda Síochána say that more road deaths have been recorded so far this year compared to last year (56 deaths up 5). This is appalling in a time of historic low traffic volumes due to the Covid-19 ‘Stay At Home’ restrictions.

Mairéad Forsythe of Love30, Ireland’s campaign for lower speed limits said: “It is very simple. If you are out for a walk to the shop and a person driving at 60km/h hits you, there’s a 90% chance your family will be gathering for a socially-distant funeral. If you are walking to the local café and are hit by a car travelling at 30km/h, there’s a 90% chance you will survive and be able to return to your favourite coffee shop one day. Once again, we appeal to the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport to do the right thing and lower speed limits to 30km/h in areas where people walking and cycling are sharing space with cars, buses, trucks and HGVs.”

Colm Ryder, Chair of Cyclist.ie added: “Responsible driving is critical at all times, and is particularly needed in these days of Covid-19. The two metre social distancing requirement frequently forces people nationwide to step off narrow paths out onto carriageways to avoid contact with other people walking. People cycling have to give two metres social distance to people walking too. This means people cycling must move into the primary position in the middle of the lane, which is difficult when motor vehicles are moving at speed. People should not have to choose between risk of death by road traffic collision or risk of contracting a deadly viral infection.”

Gerry Dornan, chair of Maynooth Cycling Campaign and Vice-Chair of Cyclist.ie, continued: “to assess the value of enforcement on Slow Down Day, we need statistics on the number of key indicators – fatalities, serious and minor accidents. We also need to know the number of checkpoints and how long they are in operation, and afterwards we want to know how many people driving were prosecuted. This needs to be more than a day of education.”

Joan Swift of the Sligo Cycling Campaign concluded: “We expect people driving to be educated about The Rules of the Road. And we expect An Garda Síochána to protect people walking and cycling by enforcing our road and public safety laws. We now expect our Government to fund changes to road design. Engineering out speed is vital to enable people driving to comply with speed limits. We need segregated and protected cycle ways and paths away from main roads

Kerry Cycling Campaign call for motorists to slow down

Kerry Cycling Campaign have called for motorists to slow down and take more care following a horrific month of road deaths and injuries. With so many people out walking and cycling within 2 kilometers of their homes motorists are asked to slow down and be careful. The dramatic reduction in traffic volumes has resulted in some drivers increasing their speed – particularly in urban areas.

Anluan Dunne speaking of the Kerry Cycling Campaign said “Quite simply drivers need to slow down. We are calling on the Gardaí to step up enforcement across the county – especially in urban areas. More people are out walking and cycling and due to physical distancing they may have to step onto the road to avoid each other”

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Focus on COVID-19, not broken bones from speeding cars

Advocates for everyday cycling call on all to support Prof John Crown’s plea for lowered speed limits nationwide during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Prof Crown, consultant oncologist at St Vincent’s Hospital and former Senator, called for lowered speed limits nationwide during this public health emergency [1]. 

We are all concerned by reports countrywide of people driving faster. Though our roads are emptier, six people died in road traffic collisions last week [2] and road deaths are up by a quarter for 2020. 

The Road Safety Authority, Gardaí, medics and the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport  are asking motorists to slow down to avoid overburdening hospitals [3]. This does not go far enough.

The number one action to ‘lower the baseline’, and reduce one of the biggest causes of hospital admissions, is to immediately lower motor vehicle speeds, says The BMJ [4] and NHS doctors in The Times [5]. This is supported by 20’s Plenty for Us, a UK campaign for more liveable street environments by setting a mandatory 20 mph (circa 30 km/h) limit for most roads where people live [6].

The Isle of Man introduced an all-island speed limit of 40 mph (circa 65 km/h) from midnight Friday to ensure that its hospital does not become overwhelmed during the coronavirus pandemic [7].

Dr. Damien Ó Tuama, National Cycling Coordinator with Cyclist.ie, the Irish Cycling Advocacy Network that represents over twenty local campaign groups, greenway groups, and bike festivals, says:

We need more than a message that ‘motorists must slow down’. Lowering and enforcing speed limits will reduce the frequency and severity of road traffic collisions. Lower speed limits could be achieved immediately via ministerial order under Section 4 of the Road Traffic Act 2004 [8], but this will need buy-in from all. We call on Minister Shane Ross, An Garda Síochana, and the Road Safety Authority to act now.

Phil Skelton, founder and chief campaigner of Stayin’ Alive at 1.5, the successful campaign for the introduction of a cyclist specific dangerous overtaking law for Ireland [9], says:

We can reduce collisions in our cities, towns and villages with a 30 km/h speed limit. Every day we witness more people stepping off narrow footpaths – where they exist – to maintain the 2 metre physical distancing. With the new restrictions announced last night, people are now limited to exercising locally with 2 km of their homes. Essential workers will continue to commute by bicycle and by foot. We need drivers to slow down, give space to people cycling and walking, and save lives. ”

Mairéad Forsythe of Love 30, a campaign for lower speed limits [10], says:

Research is stark: collisions at 50 km/h are five times more likely to be fatal than at 30 km/h [11]. We need to follow the example of the Isle of Man and make our rural and urban roads safer from our doorsteps. We need lower speed limits, now.” 

Cyclist.ie, the Irish Cycling Advocacy Network, and other cycling and walking groups support Prof Crown’s call for immediate reductions in road speeds, in particular a default 30 km/h speed limit in urban areas.

How to report a ‘dangerous overtaking of a cyclist’ incident

Last November a new offence of ‘dangerous overtaking of cyclists’ was introduced, it carries a higher fine of €120 as well as three penalty points. How you can report such dangerous overtaking is explained in this article by Paul Corcoran, a former chairperson of the Dublin Cycling Campaign, who has recently reported cases to the Gardai.

See full article, on IrishCycle.com

DTTAS Proposals for Graduated Speeding Fines

Cyclist.ie, the Irish Cycling Advocacy Network  wholeheartedly endorses the appeal to Cabinet by The Irish Road Victims  Association, IRVA, to support  Minister for Transport Shane Ross’ plan to introduce graduated fines for people caught speeding.  Chairperson of Cyclist.ie ,Colm Ryder, said ” We were disappointed last week to hear FG TD Peter Burke oppose the measure on RTE Radio, and astounded to read a report this morning that 6 cabinet members also oppose the measure”.

The IRVA comprises members who have lost loved ones in a road traffic collision, and their view, on the need to take measures to curb speeding, is deserving of respect.  Graduated fines are a commonplace way of doing this in other jurisdictions.  Mr Ryder pointed out that the commonsense stance of the IRVA is supported by official statistics from the Garda and the RSA.

To date in 2019, 131 people have died on Irish roads , an increase of 10 on the same period in 2018.  There has also been an increase in the number of vulnerable road users ie motorcyclists, pedal cyclists and pedestrians who have died. According to the statistics on the Garda website, up to November 25th, 25 pedestrians, 16 motor cyclists and 9 pedal cyclists have died. This represents 38% or more than 1 in 3 of all fatalities.  Cyclist.ie is not claiming that speed was a factor in any or all of those  collisions but we do know that the chances of dying upon being hit by a vehicle increases substantially with the speed of the vehicle.

The most recent RSA Free Speed survey indicates that 52% of car drivers break the speed limit on urban roads and 27% on rural roads, while an incredible 98% of drivers break the lower urban 30 kph speed limits. “This being the case” said  Mr Ryder,  “Cyclist.ie doesn’t understand why the concept of graduated fines is being portrayed as another attack on rural Ireland. Observation of speed limits is in all our interests whether we live in rural or urban Ireland. We applaud the IRVA for its stance and call on every member of Cabinet tomorrow to back in principle the concept of graduated fines based on speed of the vehicle.  The details can be ironed out via amendments.”  Mr  Ryder stated that Cyclist.ie favours higher fines in low speed areas as this is where vulnerable road users are most at risk.

Health Bodies Call for Active Travel in Climate Action Plan

Major Health Bodies support call for Active Travel to be an integral part of the forthcoming All of Government Climate Action Plan

The Irish Heart Foundation, the Irish Cancer Society, Diabetes Ireland, Irish Doctors for the Environment, the Association of Health Promotion Ireland, Professor Donal O’Shea (National Clinical Lead for Obesity and Hon. President of Cyclist.ie), and the Irish Pedestrian Network have signed an open letter from Cyclist.ie to the Taoiseach asking for concrete measures to facilitate active travel to form an integral part of the forthcoming All of Government Climate Action Plan.

The Department of Transport’s walking and cycling budget is increasing this year, but planned expenditure comes nowhere near the 10% level demanded by Cyclist.ie for cycling in its Pre-Budget Submission 2019 and endorsed by the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action (JOCCA). The ground-breaking report by the JOCCA makes a very strong case for active travel with the statement – “active travel measures are also among the most cost-effective emissions reduction strategies”. Our particular focus is how this needs to happen on health grounds. There is overwhelming evidence that lack of physical activity is a contributory cause in a host of debilitating chronic illnesses, including heart-disease, stroke, some cancers and diabetes. Hence the endorsement of the letter by all of the above health bodies. The forthcoming Climate Action Plan presents an opportunity to set targets for active travel which will contribute to reducing emissions and promoting health.

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Safer, rounder trucks to hit the roads next year

The introduction date for more aerodynamic, safer truck cabs on Europe’s roads will be brought forward to 1 September 2020, EU lawmakers agreed yesterday. The European federation of transport NGOs, Transport & Environment (T&E), welcomed the reform which will speed the roll-out of more rounded truck fronts that allow drivers to better see pedestrians and cyclists and improve fuel efficiency.

Under the changes agreed last night, truckmakers will be permitted an additional 80-90cm of cab length in return for improving the aerodynamics, vision, safety and driver comfort of the truck cab.

James Nix, T&E’s freight and climate director, said: “For decades EU law prohibited truckmakers from producing more streamlined, rounded cabs, holding back safety and aerodynamics. Today’s decision puts an end to this and paves the way for more fuel efficient and safer trucks to hit the road from next year, many years earlier than previously agreed.”

Today’s trucks account for 2% of vehicles on the road but 15% of fatalities, amounting to 4,000 deaths every year across Europe. Around 1,000 of these deaths are cyclists and pedestrians. Combined with other design changes, the reform will also enable emissions reductions and fuel savings of up to 10% from long-haul trucks.

On 21 February, legislators will decide on another key reform – the introduction of a ‘direct vision’ standard for new trucks in the General Safety Regulation – in a vote by the European Parliament’s internal market committee (IMCO). The standard is expected to set out the area surrounding a truck cab the driver must be able to see without using mirrors or cameras, thus improving safety for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists.

James Nix concluded: “The design change just agreed will help consign the brick-shaped cab to history. However, unlike for cars, there is still no minimum area of the road that truck drivers must be able to see directly. MEPs should now pass the direct vision standard which will go a step further in making Europe’s roads safer for all.”

T&E noted that the reform of truck cab design has taken place in less than nine months, showing that the EU can move speedily. The proposal was published as part of the mobility reform package in mid-May 2018.

Cyclists call on gardaí to protect them from road rage drivers

Cyclists have called for more action by gardaí to protect cyclists after a number of apparent road rage incidents emerged in videos on social media.

The call came after dash-cam footage of an incident involving a cyclist and taxi driver on Belvedere Road between North Circular Road and Dorset Street in north Dublin was published on social media on Wednesday.

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