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11th Nov 2019

Motorists face €120 fine and three penalty points for dangerous overtaking of a cyclist

Conor Heneghan

The new law comes into effect from Tuesday.

Motorists in Ireland face a fixed charge of €120 and three penalty points for dangerously overtaking a pedal cyclist, under a new law protecting cyclists that will come into effect from Tuesday (12 November).

The new law, which builds on existing legislation, will make it an offence to dangerously overtake a pedal cyclist, with Minister for Transport, Tourism and Shane Sport Shane Ross TD saying that cyclists having “frankly terrifying tales to tell of intimidatingly close passes and near misses” was one of the reasons behind its introduction.

Essentially, the fine for dangerously overtaking a cyclist will increase by €40, from €80 to €120; the number of penalty points accrued for the offence will remain the same as new primary legislation would have been required to make a change.

“The law that we are commencing at midnight will target and punish drivers who are guilty of such deadly, dangerous behaviour,” said Ross.

“Equally important is the impact I hope it will have on driver behaviour, providing a heightened awareness of the importance of sharing road space in a respectful and safe manner.

“Too many cyclists have frankly terrifying tales to tell of intimidatingly close passes and near misses. And we are all sadly aware of the worrying numbers of cyclists being killed and injured on our roads, despite a downward trend in road fatalities more generally.”

Ross added that his department, the Road Safety Authority (RSA), An Garda Síochána and the Office of the Attorney General have worked closely together to develop a robust, legal mechanism to target drivers who put cyclists at risk in this manner.

The introduction of the new law will be highlighted by the rollout of new signage warning motorists to provide for adequate overtaking space for cyclists. The signage includes providing for a one-metre distance overtaking space (in locations with speed limits less than 50km/h) and 1.5-metre distance (where speed limit exceeds 50 km/h).

Ross also announced that a Public Appointments Service competition will shortly be commenced to appoint four people to the Board of Transport Infrastructure Ireland, with the intention that one of the four posts be reserved for an individual with cycling expertise.

The new law has been welcomed by Dublin Cycling Campaign, who hailed it as a “step in the right direction” but warned that it will mean nothing without enforcement by An Garda Síochána.

Dublin Cycling Campaign also expressed the hope that the new legislation will result in Gardaí being more willing and able to accept video footage from cyclists who have been overtaken dangerously.

I BIKE Dublin, however, who staged a number of demonstrations last week following the death of a cyclist in Dublin, have expressed concerns about the new legislation, calling it a “token gesture”, describing it as Shane Ross’ “latest sticking plaster” and saying that the minor amendment to the existing legislation will do nothing for the safety of people who cycle, particularly in urban areas.