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Is the NSC planning to rid Ireland of all cyclists?
By Rory McKevitt, Irish Cycling Campaign
20 May 2004,

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Is the National Safety Council planning to rid Ireland of all cyclists?

Especially children?

Currently cycling in Ireland is on the decline. The 2002 census figures showed the worrying drops in cycling, since 1996 there was a 27% decrease in the amount of people cycling to work. More worrying is the drop in schoolchildren cycling to school. Only 1% of children up to the age of 12 use a bicycle as a means to get to school. Cycling by second-level schoolgirls has dropped by over 60%. There are now more second level schoolgirls driving themselves to school than cycling!

So NSC is now addressing cycling and they seem to have some very concrete plans for cyclists: less cyclists and less cycling.

Proof of their approach can been seen in their literature. Their "Going to School Leaflet" states that "No child under the age of 12 should be allowed to cycle in any sort of traffic." Apparently one should "Think twice before allowing your child cycle to school." This should eliminate a large amount of cyclists.

On Thursday the 13th of May they issued a press release. It stated that a law making cycle helmets compulsory for all cyclists, mainly children, should be introduced.

This might be expected to achieve drops of up to 90% of schoolchildren cycling. After the introduction of such a law in Australia cycling by secondary schoolgirls in Sydney was almost destroyed, falling by 91%

(1), the overall drop in child cycling in Australia was 30 to 50%

(2), Similar patterns prevail in other countries that chose to introduce laws on cyclists wearing helmets: Nova Scotia, Canada decrease in cycle use of 40 to 60%

(3), New Zealand down approx 22% post helmet laws.

(4), With obesity being a major problem for Ireland reducing the number of people engaging in an extremely healthy activity such as cycling can only cause massive damage to the health of this nation. In the UK it has been estimated that the number of children currently at risk of dying prematurely through obesity and related illnesses is approx 12,000 times those suffering serious head injury each year through cycling.

(5), If they were serious about saving lives one would might expect that the NSC would actually tackle the real issues of safety for the Irish cyclists:

Heavy Goods Vehicles (involved in over 50% of cyclist fatalities) Speeding plus lack of lower speed limits in urban areas, dangerous junction designs (especially roundabouts) and bad driving in addition to lack of adequate enforcement by the police.

The NSC contains no cyclist, pedestrian or public transport user representative, and only commercial motoring industry lobby groups are represented by external appointees to the NSC board.

Whose interests are really being served?



Census Figures available from the Central Statistics Office,

1) Various references given in summary paper, Discouragement of cycling in Australia,

2) An Observational Survey of Law Compliance and Helmet Wearing by Bicyclists in New South Wales-1993,Smith NC, Milthorpe MW.RTA ISBN 0-7305-9110-7

3) Hats off (or not?) to helmet legislation, Chipman R. Canadian Medical Association Journal 2002, 166(5)

4) Perry N, analysis of data from New Zealand Household Survey.

5) Storing up Problems- The medical case for a slimmer nation, Royal College of Physicians, the Faculty of Public Health, and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health. February 2004.

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