Cycling a bicycle past a red traffic light or breaking other traffic laws was expected to be subject to “on-the-spot” fines of around €50 by now, but IrishCycle.com has learned that the changes are delayed until next year at the earliest.
In the meanwhile, however, if you cycle past red lights you will run the risk of joining thousands others who have already been brought to court and received court fines, which in theory can be up to €750. Fines at the higher level are uncommon, but reported amounts paid to the courts can be far higher than the motoring equivalent on-the-spot fines or “fixed charge notices”.
The Government’s Road Safety Strategy says that they will “Legislate for the extension of fixed charge notices to other offences including those related to cyclists and drivers’ hours.”
The safety strategy was complied by the Road Safety Authority and then adopted as Irish government policy. It puts the Department of Transport as the lead agency and its Secretary General as the person with responsibility for the extension of fixed charge notices. The completion date is marked as “Q2 2014”, but the Department of Transport has confirmed this week that it will be next year before the changes are enacted.
Aidan Glover, press officer at the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, said: “At present, Section 107 of the Road Traffic Act creates a duty for a person using a mechanically propelled vehicle to provide their name, address and date of birth to a member of An Garda Síochána in certain circumstances. As per Action 92 of the Road Safety Strategy, the Department’s aim is that road traffic offences committed by pedal cyclists should be brought within the fixed charge notice regime. In order to enable this policy to operate, it is necessary to amend section 107 so that a Garda may in the appropriate circumstances require personal details from a cyclist, as they already may from a motorist. This primary legislation change will be made in the new Road Traffic Bill currently in preparation.”
He added: “When this legislation change is completed, amendments to the Fixed Charge Notice system can then be made to include cycling offences. The Department will look at all safety issues in conjunction with An Garda Siochana, concentrating firstly on those offences that already exist in current legislation.”
In 2013, the Department of Transport said:: “No decision has been taken on the fines but they are likely to be €50 or higher – lower than equivalent motoring fines, but sufficiently high to act as a deterrent.”
The move will make it easier to fine people on bicycles for traffic offences — freeing up the time and resources of the Gardai and Court Services.
As we reported recently, 3,200 Irish cyclists were summoned to court in the last ten years. The lack of a system of “on-the-spot fines”, officially known as fix charge notices for cycling offences means that gardai must bring bicycle users to court. The same gardai must be present when the case comes before the courts. The accused will often have to take a day off work to attend court.