herald

Friday 28 November 2014

The terrifying road toll on cyclists

IT sounds like the ideal way to get around the capital - but there are real dangers out there for cyclists.

It's cheap, offers the benefit of regular exercise, and is good for the environment.

But just 5pc of us -- one in 20 -- use pedal power to get us to work.

This compares with a massive 40pc of people in Copenhagen who get on their bikes every day.

The dangers -- real and perceived -- of cycling in our city, help explain the low numbers.

More than 140 cyclists are injured on Dublin city streets every year, some of them seriously.

Date collected by Dublin City Council shows that in just one year -- from 2007 to 2008 -- casualties in its jurisdiction rocketed from 90 to 141, a rise of 56pc.



Killed

Some 28 cyclists were killed within the Dublin city area between 1999 and 2009, while 1,401 non-fatal accidents involving bicycle users were recorded.

However, the true figures could be even higher.

A study by Dr Declan Bedford, a specialist in public health medicine with the HSE, found the number of cyclists injured is being significantly underestimated.

The RSA reported 109 serious injuries among cyclists between 2005 and 2009.

However, Dr Bedford and his researchers found that 1,050 riders were admitted to hospital during the five-year period.

Unlike many other accidents which cause injury on our roads, accidents involving cyclists tend to have little to do with speed.

In Dublin city, accidents tend to take place at junctions or along the quays, according to RSA statistics.



side-swipe

More often than not, the incidents happen on the capital's busiest routes.

Right-turning cars and sideswipe collisions cause more frequent but less severe injuries, a report by council official Elaine Conlon stated.

Car doors opening into the path of cyclists are also a common cause of injury.

Accident rates for cyclists decrease in proportion to hours of daylight, meaning fewer accidents are reported during the summer than the winter.

Ms Conlon said the data indicates commuter cyclists are involved in the greatest number of incidents, with the rate highest during at morning and evening peak times.

A significant improvement in safety was observed following the opening of the port tunnel and the subsequent HGV ban in Dublin city in February 2007.

comurphy@herald.ie

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