Tragic Donna’s brother begs for safer bike lanes

by Sylvia Pownall

THE brother of a woman knocked down and killed off her bike has begged the council to reconsider its decision not to provide safe cycling routes to schools.
Fingal County Council last week voted 19-16 against a proposal that cycle paths and walkways for new schools be written into the draft development plan.
But Neil Fox from Balbriggan, whose 30-year-old sister Donna died after being hit by a truck as she cycled to work last month, is calling for a rethink.
He told The Gazette: “I would urge the council to perhaps meet with a family like ours to hear the effects of a cyclist being killed.
“I think it is only when you experience such shock and loss that the urgency to improve cycling conditions in Ireland really comes home.”
Raymond Ryan, chairperson of Skerries Cycling Initiative, said: “Naturally we’re very disappointed.”
Councillors who voted against writing the condition into the development plan for what is Ireland’s youngest and fastest growing population said they feared it could delay school building projects.
Opposers – including Fine Gael, Fianna Fail, Labour and Renua en bloc – said compulsory purchase orders to acquire the additional land needed could prove tricky.
But Neil Fox said the move should be “overwhelmingly endorsed”, adding: “I would be hopeful that this decision will change. We can only hope that nobody loses their life awaiting it.
“Anything that saves another family from going through the absolute trauma and utter devastation we are going through should be done.
“Every effort to make our roads safer for children and adults alike should be a real priority. Lives should matter over economics.
“We love and miss Donna beyond expression. I hope no family goes through this again.”
Raymond Ryan said the practice of ferrying kids to school by car had to change, or traffic jams, accidents, pollution and childhood obesity would continue.
Mike McKillen, spokesperson for Dublin Cycling Campaign, told The Gazette: “They don’t know what they’re doing. They need to have regard for the national policy on childhood obesity. Children have got to get active.
“Parents drive their kids to school even though they know it’s wrong, but they’re scared to let them walk or cycle to school.
“You have to have segregated pathways so the children will be safe cycling to school. Anything else just doesn’t make sense.”
Cllr David Healy (GP) had proposed the motion committing to providing foot- and cycle paths when developing land for new schools.
The council’s own planners warned against it on the grounds that it could delay school projects, and Mayor Cllr Butler (FF) expressed concern that it could “potentially hold us to hostage in terms of the price we pay [for land]”.
The issue of safe school routes has been raised by Portmarnock Community Development Association and other community groups in Lusk and Rush.
Cllr Natalie Treacy (SF) said it was a “no-brainer”, adding: “Why would anyone vote against it? As a mother I would always put the safety of children first.”

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