This article has been written for Lawyer.ie by Ray Motherway, a practicing barrister with professional experience of injury law in Ireland.
The Road Safety Authority (RSA), the state agency formed by the Irish Government to promote road safety, reported that in 2015, there were 9 cyclist deaths on the roads, which increased to 10 in 2016, with Louth having the worst records with three of those fatalities.
The RSA’s most recent report on cyclist injuries as far back as 2012 [also embedded below], recorded that 630 cyclists reported to An Garda Siochana that they were injured in collisions on Irish roads. It is notable, however, that those statistics record only those incidents of collisions reported to An Garda Siochana.
Research from just one Dublin university hospital published in The Irish Medical Journal revealed that 534 cyclist presented with injuries in 2014.
[See INFOGRAPHIC image below: ‘What time of the day are you most likely to be injured on a bike in Ireland?’]
If all the hospital data in Ireland were to be gathered, the total injuries presenting to Irish hospital would be much higher than current RSA data trends suggest.
Cyclists face many hazards on the road – motorists, pedestrians, fellow bicycle users and uneven road surfaces can also give rise to cyclist injuries. Recent media articles have highlighted a further hazard in Dublin city centre: the Luas Cross City works on and approaching O’Connell Street, where there have been reports of cyclists falling from bicycles when attempting to traverse the tracks.
Growth of Cycling in Ireland
Getting on your bike is a healthy, cost-effective, reliable, environmentally friendly means of travel, which has become the preferred mode of transport for many in the past decade. Cycling has become even more attractive and accessible with the introduction of the The Cycle to Work Scheme and public bike rental schemes.
The Cycle to Work Scheme is a tax incentive scheme, introduced in 2009, to encourage more employees to cycle to and from work, or between workplaces, thereby contributing to lowering carbon emissions, reducing traffic congestion and improving health and fitness levels.
Under the scheme, employers pay for bicycles and related equipment for their employees, and employees repay their employer over 12 months (deducted from pay). The scheme covers the purchase of bicycles and equipment up to the value of €1,000 from approved suppliers every five years. The employee is not liable for tax, PRSI, levies or the Universal Social Charge on the repayments.
Later in 2009, the Dublin Bike Scheme launched, making available to the public 450 bicycles at 40 stations throughout the capital, which, due to its popularity, has expanded to approximately 1,580 bicycles at 101 stations across Dublin. So popular was the scheme, that it was also introduced in the cities of Cork, Limerick and Galway.
In Dublin in 1997, there were, on average, 5,628 cyclists on the road every day, which numbers doubled by 2015. With increased numbers of cyclists have come increased deaths and injuries.
CYCLING ACCIDENTS STATISTICS INFOGRAPHIC
Increased Safety Awareness
Cyclists have available to them many pieces of equipment that can make a journey safer: a helmet, reflectors, lights, and a bell.
Thankfully, helmet-wearing rates increased from 41 to 52% between 2014 and 2015, and of those using public bikes in 2014, 9% used helmets (Dublin only) increasing to 27% in 2015 (nationwide). In 2015, approximately 41% of private and 13% of public cyclists wore both helmet at high visibility clothing.
Safer Cycling Tips
While these statistics demonstrate increasing awareness for cycle safety, cycling related injuries remain commonplace and in order to make cycling safer, the RSA recommends:
- Ensuring you have a white light for the front and a red light for the rear of your bicycle;
- Make yourself as visible as possible by wearing luminous clothing such as high-visibility vests, reflective armbands and belts;
- Wearing a helmet at all times;
- Ensuring that you keep to the left hand side of the road; always looking behind you and giving the proper signal before moving off, changing lanes or making a turn;
- Complying with the rules of the road, never run traffic lights or weave unpredictably in and out of traffic;
- Maintaining your bike properly – in particular, your brakes should work properly and your tyres should be inflated to the right pressure and be in good condition;
- Respect other road users – avoid altercations with motorists; stop at pedestrian crossings; don’t cycle on the footpath
- Maintain a safe speed, especially when cycling on busy streets and going downhill;
- Steer well clear of left-turning trucks: let them turn before you move ahead.
- And good luck & take care now!
CYCLE INJURY CLAIMS (for more information >> visit our practice page here)
*To enquire first about whether you might have a valid claim contact Roddy Tyrrell, publisher of Lawyer.ie & Principal of Tyrrell Solicitors.
To arrange a consultation by phone or in person, contact him using the enquiry form or call (01)6671476.
If you have been injured or a family member died as a result of a road traffic collision while cycling you may have grounds to take legal action for compensation*.
What should you do if you have been involved in a cycling incident where you have suffered an injury?
First, determine whether you (or any other person), require medical assistance at the scene, and if so, contact emergency services; only then, proceed to take the following actions:
- Request that all vehicles remain in position until you use your mobile telephone to take photographs of the scene – only do so with due consideration for your safety and the safety of other road users.
- Request and record the contact and insurance details of other parties involved and any witnesses to the event.
- Contact An Garda Siochána and request their attendance at the scene.
- Request details of the member of An Garda Siochána that attends the scene.
- Enquire of local shops and An Garda Siochána as to whether they have CCTV footage of the incident.
- Even if you consider yourself to be uninjured, attend the emergency department of your local hospital or your general practitioner as soon as possible. It may be that you are suffering from symptoms apparent only to a medical expert.
- Maintain a diary of the symptoms experienced following the incident and all attendances with any doctor or physiotherapist.
- Attend any further appointments recommended by the medical practitioner or physiotherapist.
- Keep all receipts in relation to any expenses incurred as a result of the collision.
- Contact your solicitor. [Roddy Tyrrell is himself a keen cyclist and has acted on behalf of many cyclists seeking justice – see his full profile here]