The Department of Transport Tourism and Sport (DTTaS) and the Road Safety Authority (RSA) can rightly claim responsibility for the large decrease in road fatalities over the last thirty years. However, in claiming a reduction in road fatalities in 2018, they are blind to the trend of increasing cyclist fatalities since 2011 and by failing to properly allocate for safer cycling, the DTTaS perpetuates a road and traffic environment where cyclist safety is secondary.
The DTTaS and the RSA are very concerned about the number of fatalities on Irish roads. At the end of each year, they respond to the annual number of fatalities and welcome the results if the number goes down and lament if the number goes up. Their benchmark for success or failure of road safety policy is annual number of fatalities relative to the previous year. This is a good yardstick when the numbers involved are relatively large. When the number is relatively small, as in cyclist fatalities, the total for consecutive years can vary widely.
If, however, the number of fatalities is averaged over three years the effect of large swings is reduced and longer term trends are discernible. Analysis using a three year average shows that cyclist fatalities were at a low point in 2011 but have since risen significantly – more than 50%, albeit over seven years. Other countries which have significantly increased the level of cycling, have done so while simultaneously reducing the number of fatalities.
Colm Ryder, Chair of Cyclist.ie, the Irish Cycling Advocacy Network, states “The increasing level of cyclist fatalities in Ireland is unacceptable. To address this as a matter of urgency, the DTTaS must begin to properly allocate for cycling”.
The DTTaS currently spends less than 2% of its transport capital budget on cycling. To maximise the contribution of cycling to reducing carbon emissions and increase health and environmental outcomes, the Minister must increase expenditure to 10% of the Land Transport capital budget, and not to 10% of the Public Transport budget as recently announced. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has reported that the next twelve years are critical to prevent global warming beyond 1.5o. The clock is ticking ……..
For Attached Graph and Table, see below
Reference: RSA/Garda Siochana, Provisional Review of Fatal Collisions January to 31 December 2018 pdf