There is a lot of “aggression” towards cyclists on Irish roads, according to a professional cyclist.
Imogen Cotter was speaking following the launch of her new safety campaign with the Road Safety Authority (RSA) and Skoda Ireland.
Ms Cotter is the focus of the new campaign following a near-fatal crash with a van driver in Gerona, Spain in 2022.
Speaking to Newstalk Breakfast, Ms Cotter said that before her crash, she had been at a peak in her cycling career.
“I had signed my first professional contract, and I was the reigning national champ – I had a big year of racing ahead of me,” she said.
Ms Cotter said the crash occurred as a van began to overtake another cyclist who was coming towards her.
“That van continued driving on my side of the road to take a side road and ended up hitting me head-on at about 60 to 70km/hour – it was a very high-impact collision.”
The cyclist said her injuries were so severe, she was “lucky not to die.”
“I had five surgeries last year,” she said.
“There's still a lot of imbalances and chronic pain and a disability in my wrist.
“I don't have much movement in my wrist at all because I shattered the bones.”
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Ms Cotter said she is not alone, as more than 1600 cyclists have suffered serious crash injuries on Irish roads over the last seven years.
“I'm very lucky I’m able to live a normal life despite the injuries I had,” she said.
“Traumatic brain injuries, disabling injuries – these are all things that we don't really hear about that much because you focus on the fatalities, but there are stories behind every road traffic accident that happens."
Ms Cotter said aggression from drivers towards cyclists is commonplace in Ireland.
“I feel that cyclists are so vulnerable on the road and the drivers are so safe in their steel cube and we're out there just on a little carbon frame,” she said.
“I think there's something very scary to leave your home and hope that you get home alive.
“To not be sure that you will because you don't know if a driver is going to be aggressive or annoyed with you or just not paying attention.
‘RSA and Skoda’
The cyclist said she “jumped at the opportunity” to be a part of the RSA and Skoda’s new campaign to “change the attitude” of drivers toward cyclists.
“I think that if drivers can notice and realise and understand that the cyclists on the road are whole people outside of the five-second encounter you have with them,” she said.
“They have a family at home and loved ones and goals and they just want to get home – I really think that that's the important thing for drivers to understand.
Ms Cotter said that crashes are “a traumatic situation for everybody involved.”
“Obviously the cyclist is going to come off worse, but it changes everybody who's involved in it, it changes their lives.”