Ireland’s ongoing obsession with cars on our city streets means it is still dangerous for children to cycle to school, Shane Coleman has said.
He was speaking after the Transport Minister told the Dáil that, despite improvements in recent years, Irish roads are still not safe for children to walk and cycle to school.
Speaking during a road safety debate following the 155th death on Irish roads this year, Eamon Ryan said Irish roads are not safe for experienced cyclists, let alone school children.
He said we need a modal shift away from cars and towards active travel and public transport so that we can deliver “safer roads and more effective roads for everyone”.
On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, presenter Shane Coleman said there is still far too much of an emphasis on cars in our towns and cities.
“I was a little conflicted when I heard this and look, Eamon Ryan is a regular cyclist so he is out there on his bike the whole time,” he said.
“I cycle and I cycled my kids to school. One of my kids cycled to school the whole time and I would never have dreamt of stopping him, but I do admit there were times [I was nervous].”
'Our roads are not safe for our children to walk or cycle to school' Ciara and Shane react to Minister Eamon Ryan's comments. Would you feel safe allowing your child to cycle to school? @NTBreakfast pic.twitter.com/eoPb5RxER9
— NewstalkFM (@NewstalkFM) October 27, 2023
Shane said he has been cycling on Dublin’s streets when he was 17 years old and is rarely nervous himself – but he found it different waving his son off to school.
“It’s not far, about a mile, but it is more that they are really busy roads and narrow roads with cars flying by,” he said.
“I remember one time walking with the other kids up to school and coming across an accident and my immediate thought was, ‘Oh my God, could it be?’ And of course, it could have been.
“So, it is dangerous and I would have taken a deep breath when he was heading off on the bike so I kind of understand where Eamon Ryan is coming from.”
"Change the balance"
Shane said we need to rethink the balance between different modes of transport on the roads.
“We can’t widen the roads, but we need to change the balance,” he said.
“I know people don’t want to hear this and I know people give out about cyclists and so on – but there is too much of an emphasis on cars in our towns and cities at the moment.”
Fellow presenter Ciara Kelly said she lives in a quieter area with safer roads – but there are definitely parts of the city that are too dangerous.
“I think if I lived in the city centre of Dublin – or in Cork, or in Galway – I wouldn’t put my kids on a bike to school because I would be too afraid,” she said.
“It doesn’t mean I am right but I think I would be.”
The death of man in Sligo on Wednesday evening brought the number of road deaths in Ireland this year to 155 – the same number that died on Irish roads in all of 2022.
The Government has pledged to ‘accelerate’ its road safety reform plan in response to the increase.