Submission on Policing Priorities 2020

Cyclist.ie – the Irish Cycling Advocacy Network (ICAN), is the federation of Cycling Advocacy Groups, Greenway Groups, and Bike Festivals on the island of Ireland. We are a registered Charity and are also the Irish member of the European Cyclists’ Federation.  Our vision is that cycling will be a normal part of transport and everyday life in Ireland.

Cyclist.ie, is delighted to make this brief submission to feed into Policing Priorities for 2020, and we note the commitments made in Policing Plan 2019.

We note and appreciate the Roads Policing Key Performance Indicators, the high level objective of Protecting People, and Garda Commissioner Drew Harris’ commitment in the foreword to keeping people safe and protecting the most vulnerable. We especially welcome the section in  Policing Priorities 2019 which includes Policing our Roads and Safeguarding Road Users. Cyclist.ie suggests two further additions to Policing Priorities 2020: 1) Dangerous Overtaking and 2) Obstruction of Cycle Lanes 

Both of which would help to improve the safety of people who cycle.

The background to our comments is the trend of increasing cyclist fatalities on the roads. The graph below shows that this trend has been generally upward since 2011.   

Together with this trend in cyclist fatalities, we note the very worrying trend of high levels of serious injuries to vulnerable road users in urban areas, as outlined in the joint RSA/Garda press release of 28th November

The excerpted graph below, from the above report, illustrates the seriousness of this growing trend

We would hope that these latest figures will spur the Garda Traffic Division to greater efforts to protect vulnerable road users in urban areas in particular.  And, in the case of cyclists this can be done by increased enforcement levels, based on the new ‘Safe Overtaking of Cyclists’ legislation as well as tackling illegal parking in cycle lanes, on double yellow lines, and illegal use of bus lanes by private vehicles.  We note also from the latest figures released by the RSA that approximately three cyclists per week suffer life changing injuries.

Periodically, Cyclist.ie meets with senior officers of An Garda Roads Policing Unit, and RSA, to discuss items of mutual interest. The most recent meeting – jointly with the Road Safety Authority – was on 27th August 2019 when the Garda delegation was led by Chief Superintendent Paul Cleary. The discussions that day included Dangerous Overtaking, and Obstruction of Cycle Lanes. 

Dangerous Overtaking of Cyclists

Cyclist.ie has campaigned in support of legislative changes and more effective enforcement of road safety legislation. We are pleased that the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport and the Minister for Justice have successfully introduced new penalties for the Dangerous Overtaking of Cyclists.  We look forward to new initiatives by the Garda Roads Policing Unit in 2020 to support the introduction of this legislation, and to protect vulnerable road users.

Obstruction of Cycle Tracks

A second  area of concern is drivers who obstruct cycle tracks by parking on them, thereby forcing cyclists either onto the footpath or into general traffic lanes. We welcome the provision of an email address for Cyclist.ie to report such instances and propose to follow up on this in this New Year. We note that on 23rd June last, Minister Flanagan tweeted that “Cycle lanes must be kept clear for cyclists only. Gardaí and local authorities must act to enforce the law.”

We would also welcome increased policing of the offences referred to above, namely; parking on double yellow lines, and illegal use of bus lanes by private vehicles.  The publication of regular (quarterly?) bulletins on the number of Fixed Charge Penalty Notices (FCPN) issued would be a progressive step in indicating how all of these issues are being progressed.

As enforcement is a key factor in ensuring that cyclists are not endangered by such practices, a commitment in terms of targets and resources is essential to ensure that the targets in question are met. As a step towards this end, Cyclist.ie urges the Garda Commissioner to include these areas in the Policing Priorities of the national Policing Plan 2020.

We note that the Police Authority also has input into the national policing priorities and that the priorities in turn inform and are reflected in the priorities of Divisional Policing Plans and the Joint Policing Committees. Highlighting these areas by prioritising them would send a clear message to members of the force, to politicians and to the general public that they are no longer acceptable.

Cyclist.ie is happy to engage with members of the Roads Policing Unit at any stage, on any of the above issues.

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