Drivers warned to slow down as cyclist death toll triples in one year
The number of cyclists killed on Irish roads has tripled in a year.
The stark statistic was revealed at the launch of National Bike Week which begins tomorrow.
A dramatic increase in road deaths among cyclists sparked a public appeal for motorists to slow down and give riders space.
National Bike Week is expected to prompt an increase in the number of cyclists on the roads in the coming days.
The call for increased awareness by drivers comes as it emerged that nine cyclists have been killed on the roads so far this year.
In the same period last year there were three deaths.
"The number of cyclists is set to increase next week as many people take to the roads to mark National Bike Week," said Transport Minister Shane Ross.
"Against this backdrop is a worrying increase in the number of cyclist casualties and fatalities.
"As speed is the single biggest factor that determines the survival of a cyclist in the event of a collision, I am urging drivers to please slow down."
Moyagh Murdock, the chief executive of the Road Safety Authority, said: "Cyclists are among our most vulnerable road users, yet many drivers do not demonstrate enough caution and awareness when sharing the road with cyclists.
"Drivers need to pay much greater attention to their speed, as drivers are becoming increasingly distracted by mobile dev- ices and they are also speed- ing in our towns and cities.
"Our own studies have found 82pc of drivers are exceeding the 50kph speed limit in urban national areas.
"To put this in context, nine out of 10 pedestrians hit by a vehicle at 60kph will die.
"Hit at 50kph, survival is literally the toss of a coin, 50-50."
Colm Ryder, chairperson of Cyclist.ie, the Irish Cycling Advocacy Network, said Bike Week is a celebration of all positive things that cycling is about.
However, he also called on motorists to slow down and give cyclists room.
"It would be even better if motorists would get on their bikes themselves for one of the many events throughout the week outlined on bikeweek.ie," he said.
Mr Ryder conceded there were also some "rogue cyclists" who do not obey the rules of the road.
He called for a big increase in the amount being spent on cycling infrastructure to encourage more use of bikes and higher safety standards.
Supt Con O'Donohue of the Garda National Roads Policing Bureau said gardai will be focusing on speed-limit enforcement during Bike Week.
"A speed limit is not a target. Drive appropriate to the environment and conditions," he said.