Family of cyclist killed in a traffic accident call for new legislation

Family of cyclist killed in a traffic accident call for new legislation

The family of a cyclist who was killed in a traffic accident three years ago is calling for changes to the infrastructure for cyclists and to legislation about offences to cyclists.

Donna Fox (30) was killed after being struck by a truck in Dublin in September 2016. She had been cycling to work.

Her brother Neil has since become a cycling safety campaigner advocating for better conditions for cyclists – including a minimum passing distance law that is in operation in countries like Australia and the USA.

Speaking on RTÉ radio’s Today with Sean O’Rourke show Mr Fox repeated a call for legislation that would make dangerous overtaking of a cyclist an offence.

Last year a planned new law to set a minimum passing distance for motorists overtaking cyclists was abandoned by Minister for Transport Shane Ross, after the Attorney General advised that it would be too difficult to enforce.

Since then, Mr Fox has continued his campaign. “Infrastructure is the main thing that needs to change, but that's further down the line because it takes longer to do, we need better cycle lanes at kerb height, we also need cycle lanes not to be used for parking, that's quite a hazard in itself.”

Mr Fox said he understood the legal problems with the minimum passing distance legislation, even if he disagreed with them. “I think we need to look at why Ireland is so different from other countries.

Since 1973 minimum passing distance legislation has been around in America, Australia, several European countries like Portugal and France.

“I'm a volunteer I'm not part of anything so I've no agenda, no axe to grind.

It's not out of anger or anything like that. It's more out of passion to try and make things better and to try to make it clear that this is somebody's life and whatever we do is to prevent deaths, not just deaths, injuries, four people who are cyclists are hospitalised in this country every day.

“That's a lot. That's just the ones who go to hospital, not all that are knocked down go to hospital.

“This is a chance we have to make things better. It's a simple message, it's not rocket science. Speed is also a factor.”

Minister of State Ciarán Cannon told the programme that the legislation now being proposed is the creation of a new and separate offence of the dangerous overtaking of a cyclist. “This will be a unique and special offence, with no mention of a distance.”

The new legislation, which he says will be ready “within weeks, will mean motorists who commit the offence of dangerous overtaking of a cyclist will be hit with penalty points.

Meanwhile Conor Faughnan of the AA said that rather than new legislation there should be better enforcement of existing laws. “It frustrates me that in Ireland the default ‘go to’ mechanism is to think up a new law.

We've done that so often that the Irish statute book bears comparison with any elsewhere in the world, we have a fine set of road traffic laws, our real Achilles Heel is our ability to enforce it, especially in cycling.

“The obnoxious behaviour of some motorists to cyclists needs to be stamped out.”

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