2018 News

02 May 2018

Motorists Urged to Give Cyclists the Space to Ride Safe

  • Minister, RSA and Gardai seriously concerned about increase in cyclist fatalities as popularity of cycling increases dramatically in recent years
  • 6 cyclists have died in 2018 compared to 4 cyclists up to the same period last year
  • 2017 saw 50% increase in cyclist fatalities
  • Cyclists also advised to take steps to ensure their safety on the roads
  • 15 road deaths over May Bank Holiday crashes in past five years

Mr. Shane Ross TD, Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, the Road Safety Authority (RSA) and An Garda Síochána today called on drivers to slow down and keep a safe distance when overtaking cyclists on both urban and rural roads. This call comes following serious concerns over the number of cyclists killed on Irish roads this year.

To date in 2018, a total of 6 cyclists have died compared to 4 cyclist deaths up to the same period last year. This follows a 50% increase in cyclist fatalities in 2017. In response the RSA launched an awareness campaign in early March to educate drivers of the need to leave a safe distance when overtaking cyclists. The RSA recommends that drivers allow at least one metre overtaking distance when passing cyclists in speed zones up to 50km/hour and at least 1.5 metres when passing at speeds above 50km/hour.

Mr. Shane Ross TD, Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, said: “As Minister for Transport, I am committed to introducing regulations to mandate safe overtaking distances when passing cyclists in order to reduce the number of cycling deaths on our roads. Whether cycling for leisure or to commute, cycling has many health and environmental benefits and we need to actively support people who choose to travel that way. But every year there are several cycling fatalities on Irish roads and almost a thousand cyclists injured. One fatal road tragedy is one too many.  In 2017, there were 15 cyclists killed on our roads; a 50% increase on 2016. This is unacceptable and I hope that the introduction of the Minimum Passing Distance (MPD) will contribute positively to the safety of cyclists on our roads.

Ms Moyagh Murdock, Chief Executive, Road Safety Authority said: “We are using the opportunity of the May Bank Holiday weekend to remind drivers to always allow safe passing distances for cyclists. We are very concerned about the increase in cycling fatalities and serious injuries across both 2017 and 2018 to date. As the weather improves and cycling continues to grow in popularity we will see more cyclists on our roads and the risks will increase. To protect cyclists we have launched a major road safety awareness campaign this year, asking motorists to pass cyclists at a safe distance and we are also investing in safe cycling training to teach both children and adults proper cycling skills. Last year the RSA invested €353,885 in cyclist safety awareness campaigns and cycling training nationwide.”

Assistant Commissioner, David Sheahan, Garda National Roads Policing Unit, said: “We are calling on drivers to heed their speed, slow down and keep their eyes on the road. It is important to be conscious of cyclists at junctions, particularly when turning left, to check the various driver blind spots and allow plenty of space when overtaking a cyclist. Our message for cyclists is to realise that the rules of the road apply to them also. This means not cycling on footpaths, not weaving in and out of traffic, stopping at traffic lights and signalling your intent when turning left or right.”

Mr Phil Skelton of the ‘Staying Alive at 1.5’ campaign said, “I am delighted to see the RSA safe passing ad so prominently displayed on our national media. Anecdotally, we are hearing of safer interactions between bicycle riders and motorists as a result. We look forward to this message becoming prominent in the next edition of the Rules of the Road, due out shortly, where it can become part of driver training.”

“Unfortunately 2018 has seen 6 bicycle riders die on our roads and this is the unacceptable face of road safety.  May of last year was the most lethal for bicycle riders with 4 fatalities in that month alone. I would appeal to other road users to be extra vigilant of our vulnerable road users.”

A total of 55 people have died on the roads to date in 2018. This represents an increase of one death compared to last year.

Editor’s Notes:

Collisions and injuries involving pedal cyclists

Over the period 2011 – 2016 there were 4,404 cyclist casualties in 4,381 collisions recorded.  From 2011 to 2017, there were 69 cyclists killed.  The 2014 and 2015 figures are not directly comparable to the number prior to 2014 due to the system change described .  This does constitute a trend break across this time period.

 Table 1. Number of casualty collisions [2] and cyclists killed and injured 2011 - 2017

2011 2012 2013 2014* 2015 2016^ 2017^ Total
Cyclist casualty collisions 400 629 637 867 913 935 n/a 4,381
Number killed 9 8 5 13 9 10 15 69
Number injured 395 630 638 864 911 966 n/a 4,404

*break in the series, ^provisional and subject to change

The percentage share of pedal cyclist injuries compared to injuries sustained by other road users (excluding fatalities) increased from 5% to 9% between 2011 and 2013.  The 2014 and 2015 figures are not directly comparable to the number prior to 2014 due to the system change[1] but on average represented 11% of all injuries reported. 


Table 2: May Bank Holiday fatalities and serious injuries, 2010-2017*

Year Fatal Collisions Fatalities Serious Injury Collisions Serious Injuries
2017* 2 3 n/a n/a
2016* 2 2 7 9
2015* 2 2 13 16
2014 5 5 6 11
2013 2 3 6 7
2012 2 2 3 6
2011 3 4 5 9
2010 1 1 5 10

*Please note: figures are provisional and subject to change. Note: there was a change in the injury data collection methodology from 2014 onwards; any trend comparison in injury numbers should be made with caution.

  • There were 186 arrests on suspicion of driving under the influence over the May bank holiday 2017.


[1] Significant changes were made in 2014 to the mechanism by which collision data is transferred by AGS to the RSA including the addition of new variables, changes to existing variables and introduction of a two-way validation process.
[2] Casualty collisions include fatal, serious and minor injury collisions



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