Five-year-old boy dies in Belfast after being hit by car while riding his bike

School principal pays tribute to Conor O’Neill, politician calls for safer roads

by Simon_MacMichael   June 12, 2014  

Broken bike (CC licensed image by garryknight, www.flickr.com)

A five-year-old boy has died in Belfast from injuries sustained when he was hit by a car while riding his bike. Police are appealing for witnesses.

The incident happened in Rosehead, North Belfast, at around 9am yesterday morning, reports the BBC.

The child, Conor O’Neill, was taken to the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children but died of his injuries.

Conor was a pupil at Holy Cross boys' primary school, whose principal, Kevin McArevey, rushed a quarter of a mile to the scene of the incident.

He said: "The entire school community has been devastated by news of this awful tragedy."

"The boy concerned was a lovely child. He had a radiant smile that could light up any room. This is an awful day for the family, friends, staff and children."

Mr McArevey added: "He was playing on his bike, as he normally would, before going to school. His mum, I'm aware, was calling him in for school when the accident happened."

SDLP politician Alban Maginness, who represents North Belfast in the Northern Ireland Assembly, told the Belfast Telegraph: "This is a tragedy that will send shock and hurt throughout the community.

“I want to offer my sincere sympathy to the family of the young child who will be going through a harrowing time.

"I have no doubt that the entire community will rally around them at this extremely difficult time.”

He added that his party was calling for the steps to be taken to improve the safety of vulnerable road users in the area.

"The SDLP will meet with Roads Service in the coming days with a view to securing traffic calming measures that will make the area safer for pedestrians, children and road users,” he explained.

“It is imperative that Roads Service acts quickly on these requests before another tragedy befalls this close-knit community."

Fear of their children being put in danger by traffic is a major factor behind many parents’ decision not to let their offspring play outside.

In 2011, Tim Gill, an expert on children’s play and free time, expressed concern over survey findings from Tata Steel that showed declining use and ownership of bikes among children, who preferred to stay indoors with devices such as games consoles or mobile phones.

He said: “The findings on cycling and cycle ownership paint a worrying picture, not just about children’s exercise but also about their everyday freedoms.

“Not so many years ago, kids both burnt up calories and built up their self-confidence by cycling around their neighbourhoods. It looks like parents today feel the roads are too dangerous for that.

“There’s a message here for politicians; make streets safe enough so that parents can feel confident about letting their kids cycle as part of their daily lives.”

Last month Sustrans launched its Campaign for Safer Streets, urging parents to write to their local MP to demand every child be given the right to a safe journey to school.

A survey from the sustainable transport charity found 41 per cent of parents saying that their children had experienced some kind of “near miss” while walking or cycling to school.

14 user comments

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That's appalling. Obviously we don't know the the facts of this case, but definitely drivers should give plenty of room when overtaking kids on bikes.

I was on a ride at the weekend when someone overtook us on an empty straight minor road on the moors, and was within about a foot of me, my wife, and my two kids (aged 6 and 7). Fortunately they are all good riders, but if one of them had had a wobble then they could have been an accident statistic. The driver seemed oblivious of how close they had come.

posted by Chris James [161 posts]
12th June 2014 - 11:57

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Stop the child murder.

posted by congokid [111 posts]
12th June 2014 - 12:52

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There had been a few assumptions made by local press which now seem to have been removed. Though the footage on UTV while not graphic is pretty disturbing This tragic incident occurred in a quiet estate that wasn't a rat run. Basically an in and out road. The sooner developers start to design estates that lean more towards allowing play on the streets the better, maybe having communal parking rather than trying to squeeze as many dwellings as humanly possible. I would even go as far as a mandatory 10 mph limit for these particular in-out estates and a 20 for regular side streets.

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posted by giff77 [1040 posts]
12th June 2014 - 13:35

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I live not too far from where this happened (only a few miles) and have a daughter of a similar age. I'm currently going through the process of teaching her to ride without stabilisers but there is no way on earth that I would let her cycle in the street. There is a speed bump outside our house but the 4x4s just seem to see that as something to help them get air and it does nothing to slow down larger cars such as Audis, BMWs etc.

My condolences go to the family of this little boy.

posted by Beatnik69 [45 posts]
12th June 2014 - 13:45

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Another very sad story, but I'm not certain that cycling has much to do with it.

The comments seem to suggest that this boy was playing on his bike, not out for a bike ride per se. He could just have easily been on a scooter or kicking a football. The point is that this sort of thing simply shouldn't happen on residential streets.

I do agree with Giff77's comments about the structure of housing estates and associated parking however human behaviour is rather difficult to change. Where I live there are lots of laybys for resident and visitors to park in but the roads are still clogged with parked cars because people want to park as-close-as-possible to their front doors. Even walking a couple of hundred yards is somthing many seem unwilling to do.

posted by Matt eaton [308 posts]
12th June 2014 - 17:30

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Good point Matt, making streets safer for all people and all activities, not just for driving is key. Getting people to realise that there is an alternative is hard as almost everyone is also a driver. Speed limits need to be enforced too, which is hardly ever done unless a speed camera happens to be in place.

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posted by ragtag [154 posts]
12th June 2014 - 19:05

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I was cycling with my six-year-old this afternoon and we stopped at a traffic light controlled t-junction waiting to turn right. We positioned ourselves in the ASL in front of lane two. Lane one turns left, lane two turns right.

The lights turned green and we started off. My six-year-old is a very capable cyclist but obviously wasn't quick enough for the uber-friendly black cab behind who went into the turning left lane to undertake us and turn right across us shouting obscenities as he went.

Some people, eh?

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posted by Username [47 posts]
12th June 2014 - 21:55

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I think Matt it has a lot to do with cycling. As a result of this incident, how many parents will stop their children playing/cycling on the streets in that particular estate? In fact how many will allow their youngsters cycle to the school which is a quarter of a mile away and has no main road as such to deal with? I am though convinced that many motorists on the estate will not change their driving techniques as they are all convinced that they are good drivers and it will never happen to them.

This tragic incident only reinforces the misconception that the streets are 'dangerous' and bikes should not be on them. And the motorist continues to be unchallenged about how he/she interacts with other road users.

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posted by giff77 [1040 posts]
12th June 2014 - 22:56

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I would not let my 5-year-old child cycle in the street unsupervised, no matter how quiet. Sad state of affairs to be in, but a necessity. Luckily, local parks have cycling facilities which is ideal. Young children don't have the road-sense to see and hear dangerous situations developing and therefore take avoiding action.

Extra bike? What extra bike dear?

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posted by goggy [87 posts]
13th June 2014 - 7:17

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Username wrote:
I was cycling with my six-year-old this afternoon and we stopped at a traffic light controlled t-junction waiting to turn right. We positioned ourselves in the ASL in front of lane two. Lane one turns left, lane two turns right.

The lights turned green and we started off. My six-year-old is a very capable cyclist but obviously wasn't quick enough for the uber-friendly black cab behind who went into the turning left lane to undertake us and turn right across us shouting obscenities as he went.

Some people, eh?

Is that one of those London cabbies that was protesting on Wednesday? Good riddance - bring on Uber!

Extra bike? What extra bike dear?

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posted by goggy [87 posts]
13th June 2014 - 7:20

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A piece in the DM said the vehicle was being driven at around twice the speed limit in an area where the limit is 30mph.

As a parent, my sympathies are with the family of the child.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2132 posts]
13th June 2014 - 9:07

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Remember when residential streets were somewhere that children played safely and happily?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h-VuB131sFo

Growing up in the 80s we'd often be in the road playing football, kerbie, kick the can etc - just stopping for the occasional car being driven at a reasonable speed.

Sad how times have changed. Sad

posted by GrahamSt [77 posts]
13th June 2014 - 10:39

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Based on what, are you calling this murder?

posted by welly2 [9 posts]
13th June 2014 - 13:16

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welly2 wrote:
Based on what, are you calling this murder?

Well, I think the failure, at a social and political level, to do anything about lousy road design, or to properly enforce the laws on driving (along with a general obsequiousness towards an activity as intrinsically dangerous as driving) - with the knowledge that this omission _will_ inevitably lead to the deaths of innocents - could, rhetorically if not strictly legally, be described as 'murder'.

posted by FluffyKittenofT... [640 posts]
15th June 2014 - 14:24

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