Cyclist safety drive gets in gear: TV ad campaign aims to promote respect between riders and drivers
Cyclists are 23 times more likely to be killed or seriously injured on Northern Ireland's roads than car users.
While serious road casualties have dropped by 50% over the decade from 2002-12, the number of serious injuries to cyclists has doubled over the same period.
The statistics were revealed as Northern Ireland gears up for one of the world's biggest bike races next month, the Giro d'Italia.
That's why the Department of the Environment has launched its first cyclist safety TV drive, the 'Don't Forget' campaign, focusing on the vulnerability of cyclists and the responsibility cyclists and drivers have towards each other as they travel.
And some shocking discoveries were made while the DoE was researching for the ad – not least the fraught relationship between cyclists and motorists on our roads.
"Both users are very territorial. They have little respect for each other," a DoE spokesman said.
"We consulted right across the spectrum and it was very intense in the focus groups. Both think they have every right to be on the road and they blame each other when something happens. There is no love lost between them." That's why the ad focuses on building courteous relationships between cyclists and drivers sharing our roads.
Research shows that responsibility for cycle casualties is split fairly evenly, with cyclists responsible for just over 40% and drivers responsible for just under 60%.
Environment Minister Mark H Durkan said: "Cyclists have a right to ride on the road, just as motorists have a right to drive. Drivers must be vigilant of cyclists and respect their right to use the road. Cyclists themselves need to take sensible precautions like wearing conspicuous clothing and using the road safely.
"The aim of the new campaign is to reduce road deaths and serious injuries involving cyclists by positively influencing the relationship between cyclists and drivers, supported by the message "Respect Everyone's Journey."
He added: "Everyone has the right to travel on the road. Everyone has the right to come home safely to their loved ones."
The campaign runs from today until after the Giro d'Italia 2014 cycle race in May.
Between 2008 and 2012, six cyclists died on our roads. In 2013, four cyclists died on our roads and 42 were seriously injured. This is an increase of 59% from the 29 cyclists who were killed (2) or seriously injured (27) in 2004. While the total number of collisions on NI's roads has fallen by 15% between 2002 and 2012, the number of collisions involving cyclists has risen by 60%.