herald

Sunday 23 April 2017

'Cycling around Dublin is just like travelling along a Ben-Hur chariot track', says Ryan

Green TD Eamon Ryan on his bike
Green TD Eamon Ryan on his bike

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan, who was knocked off his bike by a car several years ago, has re-issued a plea for the Government to make Irish roads a safer place for cyclists.

The cycling enthusiast, who bikes into the Dail every day, believes that the new legislation will make a big difference.

However, he feels that Irish roads are not safe enough.

"They're designed for cars, not bikes," he said.

"Cycling is really taking off in this country, especially those who bike into work. It's one of the main ways we can tackle congestion and also a great way to reduce obesity.

"What's holding us back is that our roads aren't safe enough.

"I regularly describe cycling in Dublin to be like travelling along a Ben-Hur chariot track.

"If you go down from the bottom of Leeson Street you're merged between two or three different lanes. It's the same if you're coming from Fairview heading up to the Millennium Bridge - you're in a four-lane squeeze."

The TD added that, in 2015, he was struck by a car while cycling down Raglan Road.

Shaken

"I was heading towards the Egyptian embassy when I came to the roundabout half way down the road. I then noticed a car coming from another road straight at me," Mr Ryan said.

"Everything seemed to move in slow motion because I had time to realise that he didn't see me. I was knocked off my bike and went straight onto his windscreen, smashing it completely.

"Amazingly I had rolled off the front of the car and landed on my feet. The driver was really shaken and my bike was destroyed but I was very lucky I wasn't hurt."

Mr Ryan said he deems the recent number of cyclist deaths an "inevitability of a badly designed system".

"The Government really have to look at how to make our roads a safer place for cyclists.

"The number of people biking in this country has rocketed over the past number of years so something needs to be done."

He also acknowledged that cyclists have a role to play too.

"Cyclists are no angels themselves, they really have to play a role to ensure that they keep safe and follow the rules of the road just like everyone else."

Mr Ryan also admits that he does not wear a helmet while cycling in Dublin, despite his accident two years ago.

"I don't wear a helmet myself on Dublin roads and I don't think we should make it mandatory.

"If you try and police it so cyclists should wear helmets you're not making the roads any safer. Most cyclists who are killed are by trucks turning left and unfortunately a helmet won't protect them," he said.

Fines

A woman left paralysed after a hit-and-run while she was cycling to work is fully supportive of introducing fines and penalty points for motorists who drive too close to cyclists.

Aline Barros was knocked off her bicycle in an accident in July 2008.

The Brazilian suffered life-changing injuries, is paralysed from the legs down and suffers severe pains in her spine.

As a result of the accident, she now requires a wheelchair.

Speaking to the Herald previously, she said: "I think this is a very good idea because motorists need to respect the cycling lane.

"They drive much too close and never give the cyclist any room to manoeuvre."

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