ONE OF the founders of the Limerick Cycling Campaign has expressed disappointment over the Government’s decision not to proceed with legislation to make the road safer for cyclists.
The proposal, contained in the Road Traffic (Minimum Passing Distance of Cyclists) Bill, would have made it an offence to pass within a metre of a cyclist on roads with a speed limit under 50km/h and within 1.5 metres on roads with a limit of 50km/h or higher.
But Minister Shane Ross said he was dropping the plan on the basis that it would be impossible to police and enforce.
Brian Leddin, who is the Green Party’s local election candidate for City North, told the Limerick Post that the only way that Limerick people will get back on their bikes and reduce traffic congestion is to make the roads safe for them.
“Studies show that 70 per cent of all car journeys in Limerick are three kilometres or less. If we could get even one-quarter of those journeys to convert to bike journeys, it would make a huge difference,” he said.
Mr Leddin, pointed to the number of school children who travel by car every day.
“Parents are rightly concerned about their children’s safety and only a tiny number of children cycle to school. According to the last census, less than four per cent of boys in secondary school cycled to and from school and only 0.4 per cent of girls.
“We can greatly improve these figures by putting safe cycling infrastructure in place. School traffic is one of the single biggest factors in traffic congestion. If we could make the roads safe for children to cycle it would massively reduce traffic problems”.
Mr Leddin pointed to the Dutch policy of providing segregated bicycle lanes on almost every road, with a small kerb to divide and protect cyclists from motor traffic.
“The majority of our roads are wide enough to have segregated lanes. If we had them everybody would feel safe in letting their children cycle to school and lots of people would consider using a bike rather than the car, particularly for short journeys. There’s an excellent cycle lane out to UL and it’s widely used, which proves the point.
“Cycling would make a real difference to traffic problems but we also know it’s a great way to get exercise and it’s becoming very popular as a tourism leisure pursuit. The minimum passing legislation being dropped is a disappointment but we need to start planning for cycling as a realistic means of transport.”
“There are many aspects to the challenge ahead of us but improving the safety of cyclists is key to increasing cycling numbers and reducing dependency on cars”.