AQW 26043/11-15

Mr David Hilditch
Democratic Unionist Party
East Antrim

Tabled Date: 20/09/2013
Answered On Date: 07/10/2013
Priority Written: No

To ask the Minister of the Environment, given the increase in the number of cyclists using rural roads, what plans he has to enhance road safety for cyclists.

My Department has a statutory duty to promote road safety and, within the context of the Northern Ireland Road Safety Strategy, does this through a wide range of road safety education activities, including road safety public information campaigns and education programmes.
I believe that reducing further all deaths and serious injuries on our roads, with the ultimate ambition of 'Vision Zero’, where any death is unacceptable, is an important and achievable objective.
Between 2008 and 2012, six cyclists died on our roads. So far this year three cyclists have died. In 2012, 55 cyclists were seriously injured, an increase from 36 in 2003. The rate of Pedal Cyclist deaths and serious injuries per 100 million kilometers cycled in 2011, the latest figures available, was 77, an increase of 28% on the 2004-2008 baseline of 60.
Drivers are responsible for the majority of collisions, with the main causes being speeding, drink driving and inattention on our roads. Changing the attitudes and behaviours of drivers is therefore the most effective way of protecting all road users and our campaigns concentrate on changing such behaviours. The Road Safety Strategy recognises cyclists as a vulnerable road user group and includes a range of actions that relate to cyclists’ safety.
In October 2011, the Department launched the ‘Be Cycle Aware’ campaign to remind drivers and cyclists to pay attention when sharing the road. This campaign consists of two radio messages and bus back posters.
In May 2012, a campaign was launched to encourage road users to ‘respect everyone’s journey’. The important safety messages to drivers will benefit all vulnerable road user groups, including cyclists.
In September 2012, a campaign was launched, focusing on wider road user responsibility, urging all road users to take responsibility for their actions on the road. The television, press and online campaign includes an injured cyclist saying “I was cycling in the bike lane. The driver said the sun was in his eyes.”
A further campaign, launched on 24 April 2013, invites everyone to ‘Share the Road to Zero’. This is aimed at all road user groups – cyclists, pedestrians, motorcyclists, drivers and passengers and, indeed, focuses heavily on cyclists in the opening scenes. The aim is to get every road user to take personal responsibility for helping to prevent deaths on Northern Ireland’s roads. The social media aspect of this campaign provides appropriately targeted road safety messages to subscribers. This can be found at
A ‘Cycling Skills & Cycling Safety’ guide, developed jointly by DOE and DRD, is available in hard copy and online and provides information on the benefits of cycling, on basic safety requirements and on the rules of the road.
The Cycling Proficiency Scheme is offered by the DOE Road Safety Education Officer Service to every primary school in Northern Ireland. Over 530 Primary Schools participate in the scheme each year, with approximately 8,365 children benefiting from the scheme annually.
Rules 204 to 218 in the Highway Code provide advice on how drivers should treat vulnerable road users, including cyclists, with extra care and attention. Advice specifically for cyclists can be found in Rules 59-82.
Given a rise in cyclist casualties, the Department is currently analysing available data and has commissioned qualitative research to help inform consideration of potential new educational activity around cyclist safety.
I recognise the continuing challenges of reducing casualties on our roads, and will take forward further actions as appropriate from this analysis and research.