Cycling campaigners in Dublin have questioned the timing of a video released by Luas, the city’s tram network, which attacks “irresponsible cyclists” and believe it is a response for their own calls for tram tracks to be made safer for people on bikes.
A video launched alongside the Be Tram Aware campaign shoes several instances of collisions or near misses between cyclists and trams in the Irish capital.
The tram operator said: "Luas drivers acted quickly and correctly in each incident and nobody was seriously injured in any of these incidents.
"This video shows some of the irresponsible cyclist behaviour that Luas drivers see on a daily basis and which puts both cyclists and Luas passengers in danger.
"Our aim is to educate cyclists about how to cycle safely around Luas. We are asking all Dublin cyclists to #BeTramAware and check out how to Cycle Safely Around Luas."
Earlier this month, Dublin Cycling called for rubber strips similar to those used in many cities on the continent to be inserted in tram tracks to prevent wheels of bicycles from becoming stuck there.
Campaigners said they want to avoid a repeat of the situation in Edinburgh where hundreds of cyclists have sustained injuries after coming down on tram tracks.
When Edinburgh’s tram system was being built in 2012, a firm of solicitors described the tracks as “a fatality waiting to happen” unless steps were taken to safeguard cyclists and in May this year a cyclist lost her life after the wheel of her bike got stuck.
Medical student Zhi Min Soh died from the injuries she sustained when she was thrown from her bike and run over by a tourist minibus, with her death coinciding with the third anniversary of the system going live.
Campaigners in Dublin have warned that without safety measures being put in place, parts of the city centre could become “no-go zones” for people on bikes.
Without defending these people, could you explain the timing of this "awareness" campaign?
Is it a reaction to this: https://t.co/ypqZjXrKZs
— Dublin Cycling (@dublincycling) July 18, 2017
Some have speculated that the Luas video is an attempt to deflect of criticism of its own approach to safety by showing bike riders who apparently have little regard for their own.
There'll always be stupid people. How long was this video recorded over to get 6/7 examples? Accidents happen.
— Shane Lynn (@shane_a_lynn) July 18, 2017
Meanwhile, Joe Zefran, commenting on the Luas video on the I Bike Dublin Facebook page, tweeted a link to an article about cycle-friendly tram rails being trialled in Zurich, Switzerland.
He wrote: “That's funny because I was just going to post this link to show how irresponsible the foreign, for-profit Luas ‘owners’ are for not installing this technology ASAP.”
In response, I Bike Dublin said: “We're fully in agreement with you and how this Luas campaign has conveniently been timed with the news that they've failed to adequately plan and design the Luas around cyclists (which was in the media last week).
“We've questioned their ghastly language which borderlines on hate speech and incitement to hate on Twitter. They never ran a hate campaign asking for multiple RT of irresponsible drivers which is funny because drivers who break red lights are far more likely to injure and even kill. At least one person lost their life as a result of one driver running a red with the Luas in town.
“This profit over people (and their safety) seems to be a recurring theme when it comes to the ‘owners’ of the Luas as can be seen with their other business ventures and interests abroad.”
They added: “Rather than tackle the issue of their failings they want to close off streets entirely to people on bicycles. Is this another Irish solution to an Irish problem?”
Luas – the name comes from the Irish word for ‘speed’ – began services in 2004 and comprises two lines. It is currently operated by the French firm, Transdev.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.