The Galway Cycling Campaign is issuing a safety warning for users of the Seamus Quirke road where traffic was recently switched over from the existing road to a newly constructed section. The new section of road includes intermittent footpath structures on one side that are eventually intended to become cycle paths. The Cycling Campaign are concerned that some cyclists are using these to cycle on the wrong side of the road against the normal flow of traffic. They point out that using cycle facilities in this manner is associated with up to 12 fold increases in the risk of collision with cars at the side roads. Side roads and junctions already account for 75% of car/bicycle crashes. Researchers in Finland, Germany, the US and Sweden have all identified the issue.
The issue is that, when turning at side-roads motorists are not accustomed to looking for cyclists coming from the wrong side at speed. Calling for vigilance from city motorists campaign PRO Oisín Ó Nidh stated “we have to remember that Ireland is a country where there is little history of cycle training or of educating cyclists in the safe use of roads, also the same goes for motorists – as a result many Irish cyclist’s have no idea of the limitations of these cycle facilities and are putting themselves in danger in the incorrect belief that they are actually safer. This is also the case for cyclists using the cycle path going with the flow of traffic. They also have an increased risks of collisions compared with being on the road” Addressing cyclists using the road he added “it may feel more vulnerable to stay in the main traffic lane but the evidence suggests you may be safer on the road where drivers are looking rather than on the cycle paths.”
The Cycling Campaign have previously expressed serious concerns about the current design for the Seamus Quirke road and view it as unworkable from the perspective of cycling as a form of transport and a highly questionable use of public money. In their analysis, when the road is finished, many cyclists will find it safer and more convenient to stay in the bus lanes and ignore the cycle facilities. PRO Mr Ó Nidh states “if cyclists ignore the cycle facilities it will also make the paths safer for pedestrians. The cycle path chicanes at the Bus Stops will lead to the increased risk of collisions between pedestrians and cyclists”
Sweden: Leif Linderholm: Signalreglerade korsningars funktion och olycksrisk för oskyddade trafikanter ─ Delrapport 1: Cyklister. Institutionen för trafikteknik, LTH: Bulletin 55, Lund 1984, In: »Russian Roulette« turns spotlight of criticism on cycleways, Proceedings of conference »Sicherheit rund ums Radfahren«, Vienna 1991.
USA: A. Wachtel and D. Lewiston: Risk factors for bicycle-motor vehicle collisions at intersections, Journal of the Institute of Transportation Engineers, pp 30-35, September, 1994.
Denmark: S.U. Jensen, K.V. Andersen and E.D. Nielsen: Junctions and Cyclists, Velo-city ‘97 Barcelona, Spain .
Finland: M Rasanen and H. Summala: The safety effect of sight obstacles and road markings at bicycle crossings, Traffic Engineering and Control, pp 98-101, February, 1998
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