Wednesday, 19 December 2018
Promoting Cycling: Motion [Private Members]
A few years ago, I had the pleasure of welcoming Mr. Michael Aherne, the head of the transport development division of the National Transport Authority, to Navan. He walked the town and examined the traffic movement, the state of the pedestrian links and the complete lack of cycle ways. That visit was to see how we could improve our urban space. Following on from that engagement, we have launched a €12 million project called "Navan 2030". It is currently underway and is aimed at making our town safer and a better experience for everyone. The project is intended to improve public transport, pedestrian links and cycling usage between residential areas of the town and the town centre. We just completed an opening phase some weeks ago with a new cycling bridge into the town.
One of the remarks Mr. Aherne made that day on cycling was what he described as the litmus test for how safe a road is for cyclists. His simple philosophy was would he let his granny cycle on that road. If we were to take the granny test and apply it to the majority of roads in Ireland, the truth is we would be looking at possible UN sanctions for grannycide. Our roads would simply not stand up to Mr. Aherne's test. We heard the statistics from Deputy Troy. I refer to the nine cyclists killed this year, the 59 killed over five years and the large number of injuries incurred by cyclists on our roads. It is imperative that more is done to try to make it safer for cyclists using our roads.
I hope the proposals contained in this motion are not rejected but embraced by the Minister and the NTA. It is already very proactive in trying to roll out schemes beyond the Pale and into provincial Ireland. I pay tribute to Mr. Aherne and his team for doing so. Outside of the physical improvements we are seeking, and the improvements already being made to our urban spaces, we see other people, beyond the realms of this Parliament, bringing fresh new ideas to the issue of cycling safety.
I will finish with the story of one young man whom I want to mention in particular. His name is Ben Soroos, a junior certificate student in Beaufort College secondary school in Navan. At the start of this year, at the BT Young Scientist Awards, Ben made a device that is secured to the handlebars of a bike. It records video of any vehicle that comes within 1.5 m of the bike. His device, Safe Ride, records for 60 seconds after an unsafe pass occurs. It will record and save all of the licence plate numbers detected as well as all of the video for later viewing from a local website. Previous occurrences of close incursions can also be viewed there. There is also a button to save the previous 120 seconds of video so that cyclists can save video of other incidents they witness. Ben's aim is to limit the number of unsafe passes cars make past bicycles. Using the device will make reporting unsafe passes easier. We hope, of course, if we can see the improvements called for by Deputy Troy implemented that we will have no need for Ben's device and he can use his creative mind to invent other devices in another sphere.