Brother of tragic cyclist calls for politicians to do more to tackle 'crisis'

Donna Fox
Donna Fox

A BROTHER of tragic cyclist Donna Fox, who was killed on the road last September, today pleads with politicians to do more to address a situation which many are calling a “crisis”.

Five cyclists have been killed on Irish roads in the first quarter of this year, with three losing their lives in the past fortnight.

The alarming figure has already reached half of 2016’s total of fatalities. 

This year’s cycling deaths include Luby Ramirez, in her 30s and from Colombia, but living in Walkinstown, who was struck by a truck in Terenure, Dublin, on March 27; Des Butler (50), killed in Co. Clare last Sunday week in a collision with a camper van; Paul Hannon, in his 40s and from Limerick, who died on Patrick Street, Dublin, when he was hit by a taxi on March 24; Daragh Ryan (30), from Heytesbury Street, Dublin 8, struck by a car on Conygham road, Dublin, on March 12 and Tonya McEvoy (34), from Rathfarnham, who was cycling with a club when a car hit her near Maynooth, Co. Kildare, on February 12.

And the pressing need for legislators to do more to improve safety conditions will not be lost on several politicians, who are keen cyclists themselves.

Among the TDs who cycle to work are Jim O’Callaghan (Fianna Fáil), Peadar Tóibín (Sinn Fein), Eamon Ryan (Greens), Gino Kenny (People Before Profit) and Ciarán Cannon (Fine Gael), as well as a number of Senators, Ivana Bacik (Labour) and Alice Mary Higgins (Independent).

Even Taoiseach Enda Kenny rides a bike on charity runs, while Communications and Energy Minister Denis Naughton is believed to have been knocked off his bike last week in an incident.

Fitness fanatic Donna (30), was killed near Dublin port last September, when she was hit by a truck and died from her injuries, despite wearing a helmet.

Her brother Neil says the family are still devastated by her death and he is urging politicians to do more.

“Donna was 30 years old, planning to marry her partner Anne Marie and build a home together,” explains Neil. 

“Donna was such a wonderful daughter and sister and aunt, not to mention friend. 

“I know she would be happy if one life was saved as a result of what happened her. 

“That is why I support the Allocate for Cycling campaign, calling for 10 per cent of funding to go towards cycling safety initiatives. I moved to the city just after Donna was taken from us. I am so aware of the large number of cyclists in Dublin city. 

“Indeed, I walk by the spot where Paul Hannon’s accident happened just the other week, every day. 

“Politicians like Regina Doherty, Ciarán Cannon and Ciarán Cuffe are trying to find a way of making cycling safer, and the RSA have been fantastic, but I feel as a country many need to look at their negative attitudes to cyclists and face up to the fact that we all share the roads.”

Neil says that despite Donna wearing her helmet, she had little chance of surviving.

“But as I always point out, the likelihood of survival in a collision, especially a ‘low impact’ one, is much greater with a helmet. My sister was very unfortunate, to put it mildly,” he stresses. 

He says that not a day goes by within him thinking of Donna.

“It has eased a bit, lately, as in I now think beyond that awful morning and recall happier days,” he reflects. 

“But Donna is always in my thoughts, in my heart. 

“I believe it is important to speak up for cyclists and support any measures that can help protect them on our roads.

“Sadly, some people tend to see those who cycle as nuisances on the roads. I call on all motorists to remember that cyclists are as entitled to use the roads as they are.

Cyclists are obviously much more vulnerable road users and providing extra caution can mean the difference between life and death.

“Saving lives should not be seen as controversial, protecting vulnerable road users shouldn’t be seen as asking too much.

“The notion that only motorists have rights on our roads has got to be smashed once and for all. It is not about blame, but simply about protecting the vulnerable.”

Fine Gael has been pushing a new bill that would make it illegal for cars to overtake bikes at a distance closer than one metre and if cars are travelling more than 50kph, this distance would increase to 1.5 metres.

Under the planned law, drivers would face fines of €80 and three penalty points if they are caught encroaching on cyclists’ road spaces. Fines of up to €1,500 and five penalty points could be imposed.

Ciarán Cannon told the Sunday World that he and Regina Doherty have a bill ready to go through the Dáil which could be passed within a week, but they have met some resistance from politicians who believe cars have more right to be on the roads than cyclists.

“The minimum passing distance laws has been implement across 26 states across the U.S. and also in Spain, France, Belgium, Portugal, Australia and New Zealand and it has been proven conclusively to work,” he says.

“There are cyclists on the road and they need to give them significant space when cycling, because the vast majority of cycling deaths occur on overtaking manoeuvres.

“Cyclists do have a responsibility to consider their own safety, but we have to acknowledge that there is no hierarchy of road users.”