Thursday 4 May. Professional Cyclist, Imogen Cotter, who was seriously injured in a head on collision in January 2022, is calling on motorists to slow down and share the roads safely with people cycling as part of a new safety campaign being led by the Road Safety Authority (RSA) and Škoda Ireland.
While training in January 2022, Imogen was hit by an oncoming vehicle that was attempting to overtake another person cycling on the other side of the road. She suffered serious injuries resulting in five surgeries and hundreds of hours of physiotherapy. Since the collision, Imogen has documented her road to recovery and is now working with the RSA and Škoda Ireland on a safety appeal campaign reminding motorists to share the roads safely with those who cycle.
The campaign and road safety appeal are being made as a new report published by the RSA shows a worrying increase in people being seriously injured while cycling. The research found that between 2016-2021 there was an average of 239 people seriously injured while cycling each year. 9% of people seriously injured while cycling was a result of a hit and run incident. For each cycling fatality during this time, there was an average of 25 serious injuries. The research also noted that failure to observe by other drivers was their most frequently noted action in collisions where people who cycle were seriously injured.
Other key findings include*:
- Over three-quarters (77%) of people seriously injured while cycling were male
- The highest proportion of serious injuries occurred between 4pm and 8pm (29%)
- 62% of serious injuries occurred Monday to Thursday
- The highest proportions of serious injuries occurred in July (11%) and Sept (11%)
- 4 in 5 serious injuries occurred on urban roads
- Almost half of serious injuries occurred at a junction (46%), most commonly a T-junction or crossroads
- 8 in 10 serious injuries were a result of multi-vehicle collisions which most commonly involved a car (76%)
Speaking at the launch of the new campaign with RSA and Škoda Ireland, Imogen Cotter said: “I remember seeing the van coming at me and thinking I was going to die. I hit the windscreen really hard. It was horrifying for my parents to get a call like that. It felt so unfair, everything I worked for, for so long could have been gone in an instant. People need to slow down and see the impact not observing people cycling can have. My message is for people to slow down and realise there is a real person cycling on that road. They are people with whole lives and goals. If this campaign can make one person slow down that will be a step in the right direction to making roads safer for everyone.”
Mr Sam Waide, CEO Road Safety Authority said: “Everyone using the roads has an equal responsibility to ensure good road user behaviour and to protect vulnerable road users, including people who cycle. The research published today is very worrying and highlights a concerning disregard for people who cycle. In particular, the hit and run figure is shocking and shows a complete lack of respect for life. The RSA would like to remind motorists to look out for cyclists by allowing the required space when overtaking them and ensuring to check their blind spot at junctions and changing lanes. It is important to always anticipate a cyclist having to make a sudden move to avoid obstructions. We all have a responsibility, whether as motorists, cyclists, or pedestrians to share the road in a safe and responsible manner and we’d like to thank Imogen for sharing her life-saving message here today.”
Ms Eimear Walshe, Marketing Manager Škoda Ireland: “We are delighted to work with our ambassador Imogen Cotter and the RSA on this life-saving safety initiative. Imogen’s story is unfortunately not an isolated incident. Many people who cycle experience near misses on a regular basis. At Škoda we are passionate about supporting motorists and people who cycle to use the road in harmony alongside each other. As the number of people who choose to cycle on our roads increases, it is important that drivers support and respect their right to use the road. We admire and thank Imogen for sharing her story with the aim of making a difference and saving lives.
The RSA is advising drivers on safety issues that are challenges for people who cycle and reminding road users to be aware and to share the road safely:
- Give the space to ride safe. Give people who cycle the space to ride safely when overtaking them (at least 1 metre in speed zones up to 50 km/h and at least 1.5 metres in zones over 50km/h). People who cycle can be thrown off course by sudden gusts of wind or when having to avoid uneven road surfaces.
- Check mirrors regularly. Remember a person cycling could be in your blind spot so look carefully before you manoeuvre your vehicle.
- Slow Down. If you are driving too fast you will not be able to react in time to the presence of other road users. There is a 50% risk of death if a person is hit by a vehicle travelling at 60km/h.
- If you or passengers are getting out of a parked vehicle, make sure you check for passing people cycling before opening the door.
- Cycling should be a fun and safe pastime. People who cycle also need to make sure their bikes are roadworthy and in good working order to include brakes, tyres, chain, and have lights and reflectors.
The digital campaign in partnership with Škoda Ireland will run across social media and video on demand for the month of May promoting the need for drivers to allow a safe passing distance when overtaking people who cycle. The campaign was created & produced by Zahra Media. The campaign can be viewed on here on rsa.ie and here on Škoda.ie
Table 1 Fatalities and Serious injuries among people who cycle, 2016-2022
*Cyclists Serious Injury Report 2016 to 2021. This report was prepared using data from the Irish Road Traffic Collision Database, which is based on collision records transferred from An Garda Síochána to the RSA. Please note, figures are provisional and subject to change.
To date in 2023, a total of 57 people have been killed in fatal road crashes, this is same number of road deaths compared to the same period in 2022.
Ireland’s Road Safety Strategy:
Ireland’s fifth government Road Safety Strategy 2021-2030 aims to reduce the number of deaths and serious injuries on Irish roads by 50% over the next 10 years. This means reducing deaths on Ireland’s roads annually from 144 to 72 or lower and reducing serious injuries from 1,259 to 630 or lower by 2030.
The strategy is the first step in achieving the 2020 Programme for Government commitment of bringing Ireland to ‘Vision Zero’. This is to eliminate all road deaths and serious injuries on Irish roads by the year 2050.