Leo Varadkar says mandatory use of cycle lanes is an issue for Minister Ross

Former transport minister Leo Varadkar said he has no records and no clear recollection to relating to mandatory use of cycle lanes — a matter which he says is now for Minister Shane Ross.

The Department of Transport’s current stance — that mandatory use of cycle tracks was not revoked in 2012 — is viewed by cycling campaigners as a misinterpretation.

With a Freedom of Information request finding no evidence that Minister Varadkar was told of the issues with the law, and, now with Varadkar stating he has no records of such, it is the strongest indication to date that the Department of Transport reinterpreted the law sometime after Varadkar had left it — nearly two years after after the law was changed.

The now minister for Social Protection, Leo Varadkar, said: “I ceased to be Transport Minister over two years ago. I am afraid, I do not have a clear recollection of the details or discussion around this particular Statutory Instrument and have no records from my time as Minister. They are retained by the Dept Transport, Tourism & Sport . I am sorry that I cannot be of assistance with your enquiry. This is now a matter for Minister Ross.”

While Varadkar was minister at the Department of Transport, he  made a strong commitment in the Dail to revoke the general law of mandatory use of cycle lanes (leaving only contra-flow cycle lanes and lanes in pedestrian areas covered as mandatory to use). It was later indicated that secondary legislation — called SI 332 of 2012 — would do this and the explanatory note of SI 332 of 2012 claims that the legislation does such.

But officials in his former department have said that the removal of mandatory use never happened and the explanatory note is the only thing which is wrong.

Officials in the Development of Transport have gone as far as to suggest that there was no intent to change the law in relation to mandatory use and they still have to consult with the Gardai and RSA on the matter. This is despite Minister Varadkar having stood up in the Dail and stated that it was Government policy to revoke mandatory use.

Our questions have gone unanswered on why there is the conflict between the department’s new stance and statements from the then minister and the department’s press office just before the law was changed. 

10 Comments

  1. I guess this means something like “I’m not stoking controversy in a fragile coalition over cycle tracks”.

  2. Thanks again for you perseverance, Cian.

  3. We should have a new hashtag on twitter for posting photos of cycle lanes that are completely unfit for use, despite the DoT claiming that it’s the law to use them.

    Surely it’s unconstitutional, or at least in common-law it wouldn’t stand up in court if someone was done for not using a cycle lane if it can be shown that they are regularly unfit for purpose, unsafe, and blocked.

    And by unconstitutional – I mean enacting/passing or enforcing a law which puts people in risk of injury or death by making them comply with such a law.

  4. Rest easy guys, the Department of Transport’s reinterpretation is just plain wrong! Wishful thinking but for what reason? Who sought the reinterpretation? RSA?

  5. Since this all seems so unclear perhaps the solution is to get someone to ask Shane Ross directly if he intents cycle tracks to be mandatory or not and does he intend to change the law, since it apparently unclear, to clearly reflect this. One of the TDs who has asked questions about mandatory High Viz should be good for this right?

    I believe that Ross was consulting with the RSA and Gardai (for some reason) about this, but surely he must have an answer by now?

  6. In The Netherlands (…) both cycle lanes with a dotted (left side) line with (!) cycle logo and cycle lanes with a continuous painted (left side) line with (!) cycle logo are mandatory for cyclists. However this is not because of the cycle logo but legally based on the general rule that all road users (incl. cyclists) should stay as much as possible at the right side of the road / street. A motor / car driver is not allowed to stop nor park on both types of cycle lanes (with logo!) and not even on the carriageway next to / parallel of both types of cycle lanes.

    On cycle lanes with a continuous painted white line (with cycle logo!) no any other road user is allowed to use that cycle lane. And the cyclists themselves are not allowed to cross that continuous painted line e.g. for overtaking other cyclists.

    On cycle lanes with a dotted white line with cycle logo (!) other vehicles are allowed to cross just to reach a parking place or for a short distance overtaking manouevre. Parking on all cycle lanes with logo’s is forbidden.

    Thé crucial aspect in Irish towns and cities is the fact that many cycle lanes are (still) NOT to standard (National Cycle Manual) in terms of their own widths, the space next to the lanes, continuity, waiting area etc and that therefor cyclists are forced to leave their cycle lanes and are ‘invited’ to put themselves (and sometimes others…) in risk of injury or death.

    PS: Citizen Wolf’s idea to “start a new hashtag on Twitter for posting photos of cycle lanes that are completely unfit for uses” is very much welcomed and necessary to make progress.
    I am sureNTA and others have already collected those bad cycle lane practices i.e. bloopers in their files with pictures or even videos.

  7. If you are looking for examples of bad cycle lanes here’s one to add to the pile:
    https://goo.gl/maps/vUszuShhEg32

    This is the Naas road. There are three distinct car sales places along this stretch and each one of them treats the cycle lane as overflow parking.

    Here’s another:-
    https://goo.gl/maps/cqXEYjLTr992

    This is near Tallaght Hospital. You might not see people parked like this every day, but it is very frequent and quite egregious.

    No doubt the answer to examples like this would be that if such a thing happens then you can obviously you can get on to the road, so long as you get back on again right away. No inconvenience is too great, when it is the cyclist being inconvenienced!

  8. 1st one linked to above by HivemindX = ignitionautos obviously don’t give a monkeys about either cyclists or pedestrians. What a bunch of selfish inconsiderate wankers.

  9. Save some ire. If you back up toward the city you will find two other car sales places within a kilometer that do the same thing, it just happens that the cycle paths are on the road there so it is easy to go around their stock. You will also see private cars (as opposed to a businesses stock) parked right up on the cycle path at multiple places.

    No doubt they pat themselves on the back for being good and ensuring their cars don’t block the road at all. And so we get the vicious circle, cars block cycle lanes, “sure cyclists don’t even use them, waste of money”, cyclists don’t use cycle lanes, “I’ve no idea if this is going to peter out, turn down a side road or be blocked by a parked car”.

  10. Having “no clear recollection” is probably the most used argument by Irish politicians to get themselves out of messes. I take it rather as an implied admission of either incompetence or bad will. It may be legal, but most of the time the ethics are questionable.

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