herald

Wednesday 19 December 2018

'Road rage cyclist threw bike at my bus and spat in my eye', says driver

Dublin Bus driver Dave Fitzsimons had to have tests for hepatitis at St James’s Hospital after the attack
Dublin Bus driver Dave Fitzsimons had to have tests for hepatitis at St James’s Hospital after the attack

A Dublin Bus driver has told how a furious cyclist threw his bicycle at his bus and then spat in his eye.

Dave Fitzsimons, a bus driver in the capital for 11 years, said the attack was just one of many he had faced.

The cyclist was weaving in and out of traffic in front of the bus but became violent when Mr Fitzsimons signalled at him to be careful.

"This guy was out on his bike in front of me. He was on his phone with not a care in the world," he said.

"I slowed down and he did it again so I gave him a beep to say if you go under the bus there's no coming back out of it.

"He threw the bike in front of the bus and came around to the side window.

"It was open about three inches, he stuck his face in and basically spat right in my eye.

"When it happened it felt like a lifetime. I was stunned and I just froze," he said.

The driver was interviewed on RTE's Sean O'Rourke show yesterday as the number of attacks on public transport were highlighted.

A spokesperson for the National Bus and Rail Union said attacks were becoming more frequent, with four serious assaults on bus drivers in the past month.

The NBRU is calling for a dedicated transport division within An Garda Siochana to deal with the issue.

Mr Fitzsimons was advised by his GP to attend St James's Hospital to make sure he had not contracted any diseases.

"Some of it was dripping and I was a little bit stunned so I didn't know if it went into my mouth or what to do," he added.

"My doctor advised me to go straight to A&E and they put me on a priority list and I just sat there for four hours.

Infected

"I had to get blood tests to make sure I didn't have hepatitis or something else.

"It felt like getting a punch but I'd say it was worse not knowing if he was infected with anything. That was my biggest fear," said the driver, who thankfully was uninjured.

Anti-social behaviour has also been on the rise on trains in recent years, with 705 cases reported in 2017. Some 15 of those were assaults on staff.

A revenue protection officer with Irish Rail said a policing unit was urgently needed on trains to combat a growing number of gangs using the trains as a "training ground".

"Every day you're faced with the threat of violence, sometimes twice or three times a day," said Brian Byrne.

"The trains are becoming a training ground for antisocial behaviour. They know they can just get off and walk away.

"A female colleague of mine had her fingers broken. Some colleagues have had their ribs cracked.

"I have had hot drinks and cold drinks thrown at me, I've been spat at. I wish I was making it up but this is the reality every day, and the other passengers are left terrified."

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