No exemption for children cycling on footpaths says minister ahead of new fines

READ OUR UPDATE HERE: Cycling on footpaths removed from planned on-the-spot fines

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There will be no exemption for to the law which makes cycling on footpaths illegal, the minister for transport, tourism and sport has said in response to a parliamentary question asking if there were plans to exclude “very young or hearing impaired cyclists”.

Cycling on footpaths is already illegal in Ireland (expect shared use paths marked with signs, as pictured above) –, however changes are soon expected to allow offenders to be fined with on-the-spot fines. Currently Gardai have to summons offenders to a district court — which is seen as a waste of Garda and Court resources, and a waste of time for all involved.

Some cycling campaigners and people who cycle on the footpath claim they do so because it is safer and they are intimated off the roads by motorists. In the absence of off-road cycle paths, primary school children around the country generally use footpaths to cycle to school.

Minister Paschal Donohoe (Fine Gael) said: “I do not believe that a change in the law to allow some cyclists to use footpaths is an appropriate response.”

He was responding to Seán Kenny TD (Labour), who asked the minister for transport of his plans “to allow exemptions for very young or hearing impaired cyclists to use footpaths; and if he will make a statement on the matter.”

Fines had not expected to apply to children under 12, as younger children are currently generally exempted from criminal responsibility, including minor. But the written reply under the minister’s name did not mention this.

The minister said that the law on the issue of cycling on footpaths is at present as set out in the Roads Act 1993 and that “specifies that footpaths are for the use of pedestrians”.

Donohoe said: “Safety is my highest priority in all areas of transport. When it comes to road safety, certain road users are especially vulnerable, including pedestrians and cyclists. Both my Department and the Road Safety Authority have pursued and are continuing to pursue a wide range of measures to improve safety for all road users, and in particular for those who are most vulnerable. These include infrastructural improvements through funding for the provision of cycle lanes and educational initiatives to improve awareness of the safety of cyclists, among both cyclists and motorists.”

He added: “However, I do not believe that a change in the law to allow some cyclists to use footpaths is an appropriate response. This would take some cyclists off the road, but at the price of creating more risk for pedestrians. It would also be difficult to enforce a situation in which some cyclists were allowed on footpaths and others not. I have therefore no plans to amend the legislation on usage of footpaths at this time.”

MORE: Written answers: Wednesday, 14 January 2015: Cycling policy

12 Comments

  1. Will we see on the spot fines for cars mounted on pavements or illegally parked in cycle lanes (where they are provided)? Does this then make it illegal for me to cycle out of my driveway – across the footpath – in front of my house? More coffers for the ‘aul boys’ to divvy up amongst themselves while ‘real crime’ is ignored…Are we to get a minimum safe pass distance amended to the Rules of the Road…?

  2. Rsa booklet says children of 12 and under should not cycle on the road so where are they supposed to go.

  3. Perfect timing for this article – I mentioned the lack of exemption in my submissions to FCC about reducing the speed limit in housing estate roads to 30km/h.

  4. Hearing Impaired????
    Deaf Impaired?????

  5. What about those brilliant path based cycle lanes that just end where to only thing to do is cycle across the footpath and back onto the road. Whoever designed and built cycle lanes that don’t remerge onto the road but simply end in the middle of nowhere really had no idea about the needs of cyclist. Finally is full of the head. I prefer to cycle on the road than use them

  6. @alan: Thanks to Leo Varadkar’s changes to the Road Traffic Act (in October 2012) cyclists do *not* have to use the mandatory cycle lanes.

  7. What about balance bikes, flickers, scooters, skate boards, roller blades and the like? I see many young adults using scooters to speed up their walk around town, and they can bring them on the bus.

    I sometimes find it far safer to pull off the road onto the path where it dips for pedestrians and do the old free wheel and one-legged glide than to stop dead on a busy road. Will some keen young Garda make an example of me?

    When I take the route through the Dublin City Council offices for safety and peacefulness will I be open to being fined despite the fact that CARS and VANS can and do drive in there?

    When I dip onto the footpath of a (stupid) shared space because there are pedestrians in the bike lane am I being anti-social and dangerous?

    This government has it priorities out of whack with this stuff. Motorists assault my person on a daily basis with impunity. Taxi drivers tailgate me in bus lanes without punishment. I am left-hooked. Undertakers dip into my lane without even checking its free. All these things have far more capacity for harm than a bit of polite and calm pavement cycling which is solely caused by the aggressive and dangerous behaviour on our roads which is normalised and largely unquestioned by authorities. Aside of course from the lip-service towards safety given by the RSA and the Gardaí.

  8. I recommend an on the spot fine for motorists who intimidate cyclists.

  9. I cannot believe this stupid new law. Rather than make it safer for children, it in fact endangers them. No child under the age of 12 has the road sense or the ability to foresee dangerous situations. How many pedestrians have been hurt, never mind killed by a cyclist on the footpath, compared to the number of cyclists killed by motor vehicles on the road. Yes it is annoying when a cyclist passes you on the footpath, but what would you rather see? Children being killed much more regularly?

  10. I asked my 9yr old what she thought about this. She thought it was idiotic.

    Sums it up nicely.

  11. carroll1205@hotmail.com July 6, 2015 at 1:00 am

    This will cost the Gov in votes.

  12. Just to be clear: Here’s an update where the minister exempted cycling on footpaths from the fines system: http://irishcycle.com/2015/07/01/cycling-on-footpaths-removed-from-planned-on-the-spot-fines/

2 Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Department backpedals from firm position on cycling fines for children
  2. Minister for Transport still undecided over fines for children cycling on footpaths

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