Up until today, drivers who overtook cyclists dangerously could be prosecuted under the general law regarding dangerous overtaking and be given a fine of €80 and three penalty points. Examples of dangerous overtaking (or ‘punishment passes’ as they are sometimes known) can be seen on the following video links, here and here.
Cyclist.ie welcomes the new regulation regarding the dangerous overtaking of cyclists announced today (11th November 2019) by Shane Ross, Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport. Under the new regulation, drivers will incur a penalty of a maximum of €120 for the dangerous overtaking of a person on a bicycle. There will be no increase in the number of penalty points awarded under the new law as this would require primary legislation.
Cyclist.ie is cautiously optimistic that there will be serious and systematic enforcement of the new regulations by An Garda Síochána. The impact the new laws will have on driver behaviour is critically linked with the enforcement regime to be employed by the Gardaí.
We are hopeful that with additional promotion of safe overtaking practice by the Road Safety Authority and other state bodies – and an active enforcement regime – that people cycling on the roads are given much greater overtaking distances by people driving, and that a normal and safe culture of cycling to and from school (especially) can be re-established.
Enormous credit for the introduction of this law is due to campaigner Phil Skelton from Safe Cycling Ireland, a member group of Cyclist.ie – the Irish Cycling Advocacy Network. He has worked consistently and tirelessly on this issue for over six years, following the deaths of two cyclists in Wexford as a result of collisions with cars moving in the same direction as them. Speaking to Irish Cycle, Phil Skelton said: “This legislation sends a clear unambiguous signal to drivers that cyclists have a legitimate right to the road and recognises cyclists as legitimate road users.”
Cyclist.ie is conscious that already in 2019, nine people lost their lives while cycling. This regulation is but one element of a wider tool box of interventions to completely change cycling conditions on Irish roads. Other crucial elements include the roll-out of 30km/hr zones in all built-up areas, the construction of high quality and segregated cycling infrastructure and making all of the most hostile junctions in the country safe for people of all ages and abilities on bicycles.
Cyclist.ie will be posting a more detailed response to the new legislation after we have had a chance to scrutinise it.