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Irish Transport Minister demands safer "cycling culture" that respects pedestrians and the law

Eamon Ryan agreed with a local who suggested walking is dangerous because of cyclists who "really don't care about ­pedestrians"...

Cyclists in Ireland reported being left "disappointed" by Green Party leader and Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan's comments about bicycle riders apparently putting pedestrians in danger and lacking respect for the law.

Mr Ryan's comments were published in the Irish Independent, and came at a meeting about the Dodder Greenway, an active travel route in Dublin, during which the minister suggested "conflict" could be reduced with the installation of more cycling and walking paths.

However, he also agreed with a local who said people were put in danger by cyclists "who don't care about pedestrians", saying they were "right" and that it is "very much incumbent on the cycling community to create a culture and an attitude" that respects pedestrians and the law, and is "enforced".

One prominent Irish cycling social media profile, Righttobikeit — who shares video footage of near misses and dangerous driving experienced while cycling in Ireland — said they were left "disappointed" by the Transport Minister's comments and added that he had been guilty of "entertaining the old 'irresponsible cyclist' trope."

Another cyclist called the wording "terrible", with "nothing either about the culture of dangerous motorists".

And, much like in the United Kingdom where comments and questions from MPs about dangerous cycling are regularly met with Department for Transport replies pointing to the suitability of current legislation, a spokesperson for Mr Ryan's Department of Transport pointed out that cyclists who break rules are subject to fixed-penalty notices.

"Cycling without appropriate lighting, breaking traffic lights, cycling into a pedestrianised area and cycling without reasonable consideration of others are all fixed-charge notice offences," they said.

"Many of these offences – including travelling without due consideration of others – will be expanded to cover e-scooters upon the signing of the ­relevant regulations in the coming months.

"The enforcement of road traffic legislation falls under the responsibility of An Garda Síochána, while the deployment of garda resources is a matter for the Garda Commissioner and for the Department of Justice."

On our Friday live blog we shared some reaction to An Garda Síochána's social media account saying that its "two new electric bikes" would be "put to use by Gardaí on patrol" to ensure that "cyclists continue to work with us by practising good road safety, and taking personal responsibility for their own safety and that of other road users".

The cyclist-heavy approach to road safety was criticised by some, campaigner CyclingMikey replying calling the post "foolish" and claiming: "Around 95 per cent of KSI collisions between cyclists and drivers are solely the fault of the drivers. If you want safety, it's driver behaviour that you need to alter."

The Department for Justice added: "Road safety is a shared responsibility, and it is one which this Government takes very seriously. The enforcement of cycling regulations is a matter for An Garda Síochána.

"Road traffic legislation is enforced as part of the day-to-day duties of members of An Garda Síochána and, to assist with this, the Government is committed to providing the funding needed to ­continue to ramp up Garda recruitment. This is an increase of over 20 per cent since 2020. Garda recruitment continues apace with funding for 800-1,000 new ­garda recruits. Over 700 recruits entered Templemore in 2023 – the biggest intake since 2018.

Cyclist in Dublin (licensed CC BY 2.0 on Flickr by Teyvan Petttinger)

"Growing the strength to 15,000 and beyond will allow for more high-­visibility policing in our towns and cities."

On Saturday, we reported that a legally blind man in the County Donegal town of Letterkenny had received his second conviction in as many years for cycling while drunk, after police found him riding his bike in an "extremely unsteady" manner along the hard shoulder of a dual carriageway after a night out.

Irish cyclists have long since been calling for action to make the roads safer for vulnerable road users, the bereaved partner of a rising racing star, killed in a collision last year, warning that the roads had become "like a war zone" for cyclists.

Last week, following the death of John Walsh — the second UCD Cycling Club member to be killed in a collision in less than a year, after Gabriele Glodenyte's death last May — former pro cyclist Dan Martin said he hoped "the more people we get on bikes, the safer the roads will become", but admitted "going out on the bike every day, you do have near misses constantly in cycling, and that is scary".

A poll conducted in February 2023 indicated that cyclists are perceived to be among Ireland's most dangerous road users, with around a fifth of those surveyed claiming that people on bikes represent the greatest threat on the country's roads, just behind young male motorists and e-scooter users.

Dan joined road.cc in 2020, and spent most of his first year (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. At the start of 2022 he took on the role of news editor. Before joining road.cc, Dan wrote about various sports, including football and boxing for the Daily Express, and covered the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for The Non-League Paper. Part of the generation inspired by the 2012 Olympics, Dan has been 'enjoying' life on two wheels ever since and spends his weekends making bonk-induced trips to the petrol stations of the south of England.

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9 comments

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ktache | 1 month ago
1 like

Breaking traffic lights...

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KDee replied to ktache | 1 month ago
0 likes

Not just me that finds that phrase odd then. But I've seen it before on another set of comments (X maybe) from Ireland so perhaps it's a colloquialism. 

Avatar
lonpfrb | 1 month ago
2 likes

Complete false equivalence between "A poll conducted in February 2023 indicated that cyclists are perceived to be among Ireland's most dangerous road users, with around a fifth of those surveyed claiming that people on bikes represent the greatest threat on the country's roads" and actual facts from official statistics.

If anything the poll demonstrates the evidence value of 'eye witnesses' to be biased and unreliable as is well know to the road traffic police in most countries. For example calibrated speed measuring equipment gets very different results than 'eye witness' accounts.

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hawkinspeter | 1 month ago
3 likes

Oh great! Is this the future of green politics?

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marmotte27 | 1 month ago
2 likes

"Green party", really?

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wycombewheeler replied to marmotte27 | 1 month ago
5 likes

maybe the green party is some sort of nationalist party over there, and not an equivalent of our green (environmental) party.

Hard to understand otherwise, simple figures on

  • pedestrians injured by cyclists
  • pedestrians injured by drivers
  • cyclists injured by drivers

should have shown where the real issue lies.

Avatar
eburtthebike replied to marmotte27 | 1 month ago
1 like

marmotte27 wrote:

"Green party", really?

I came here to say the same thing.  I don't recognise his comments as being remotely like the policies of the UK Greens.

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marmotte27 replied to eburtthebike | 1 month ago
1 like

They seem to be a classical green party. But the policies of these have changed a lot lately in order to become 'electable' (though this is the first anti-cycling rant I read from a leader of such a party). https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_Party_(Ireland)

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chrisonabike replied to marmotte27 | 1 month ago
0 likes

Wouldn't be surprised if facilitating cycling was one of their less popular policies. Not because Greens object but simply because a) it's not currently something most people outside of NL and some parts of Scandinavia are calling for and b) there are certainly lots of people who will oppose specific changes involved in this.

IMO cycling / car trip reduction is in the "we never knew we wanted it - until it happened" category for many.

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