THE grief-stricken father of a young woman killed cycling home from work last month has called for wider roads, one-way streets and dedicated bike lanes that run against traffic.
Peter Fox, whose daughter, Donna, was killed after being struck by a truck near Amiens Street in the north inner city on September 6, said if any good could come from the tragedy it would be that authorities move to protect vulnerable road users.
This week, a large group of cyclists gathered outside the Dail to protest against the lack of investments in cycle lanes in the city centre.
The protest organiser said the demonstration had been prompted by Donna’s avoidable death.
The campaigners have called on the Minister for Transport Shane Ross to look at the economic advantages of supporting cycling and to give cyclists a fair share of the spend of public funds being used for the country’s road networks.
Nine cyclists have died on Irish roads already this year – as many as were killed in the whole of 2015.
Speaking to RTE’s Claire Byrne, the heartbroken father of three said Dublin was anything but a safe place to commute.
He added: “It’s not anywhere near it. It’s a disaster area. It’s amazing there aren’t more fatalities and more accidents.
“It was time to do something about it ten years ago. Cars and lorries are getting bigger. The roads are not getting bigger. There’s new roads being built and they’re still being built to the same width as they were 30, 40, 50 years ago.
“Certain roads could be made that there’s no cyclists allowed on, and other roads made one-way streets.
“My message is this – that the people who have the authority should earn their wages, represent the people, do what has to be done.
“[A plan could] consider that the cyclist, when they’re on these cycle lanes, go in the opposite direction of the traffic, where they can see us, and we can see them.”
The taxi driver from Balbriggan said bike lanes in the city were like a “patchwork quilt”, which were fine in some places but then simply stopped, forcing cyclists onto the road alongside buses, lorries and cars.
He said: “If it saves someone else’s life, if it saves someone else going through what our family is going though now, anything is worth it.
“You could put a cycle lane through the centre of my sitting room and I wouldn’t care, if it saved some family going through this.”
The heartbroken dad described the pain of losing his daughter, and how he had to break the tragic news to Donna’s little sister, after first hearing about the accident on the radio.
“I just can’t get my head around it,” he said.
“She was brilliant. She was a great friend, she never let me down. She was great company; she kept the family going – she kept us all on our toes.”
Peter said he had long worried about his daughter cycling to and from work, but she kept reassuring him, saying she was happy the route she was taking from Whitehall into town was safe.
He said: “Cycle lanes only go so far, then they stop. There’s nowhere you can travel in the city the whole way on cycle lanes. You’re on a cycle lane and you’re grand, then you’ve no cycle lane – that’s where your problem is.”
Protesters on Monday evening called for more funding for cycling infrastructure across Dublin city and county. They were angry that funds earmarked for planned segregated cycle lanes that would have cost between €5.7m and €12.3m had been diverted to the €1.1bn Luas project.
Organiser Colm Ryder, from the Dublin Cycling Campaign, said the demonstration was prompted by Donna’s death.
He said: “She was the ninth person to be killed off her bicycle this year … A lot of them are avoidable deaths, and they are avoidable if the proper attitude is taken in relation to the funding of cycling, which is active travel, which is about people being healthy.”