People who cycle in Ireland for commuting, leisure or sport are being called to contact their TDs to urge them to support a planned amendment to the Road Traffic Bill which is due shortly after Christmas.
Motorists overtaking people on bicycles too closely is a common urban and rural problem — while motorists overtaking bicycles is a manoeuvre linked to many of the high percentage of rural cycling deaths in recent years.
Fianna Fáil transport spokesperson, Robert Troy, said he will bring forward the amendment to the road traffic bill with the intention of introducing the minimum passing distance law for motorists overtaking cyclists, with a minimum distance of 1 metre up to 50km/h and 1.5 metres over 50km/h.
Phil Skelton of the Stayin’ Alive at 1.5 campaign said: “Many groups will oppose this. They have come out openly in their opposition in the past; The AA, the Irish Road Hauliers Association, Taxi Drivers for example… your voice will need to rise above the naysayers.”
He added: “Write or email to your local TDs and tell them how important this is to yourself, your family, your friends and community. Tell them in no uncertain terms that your future vote depends on it. If you don’t get a reply, chase it up until you do.”
The Fianna Fáil draft amendment for a specific minimum passing distance is an agreed adaption of a seprate bill proposed by now minister Regina Doherty and junior minister Ciaran Cannon.
Skelton said that during the time he has been campaigning for a 1.5 distance in Ireland that 13 jurisdictions have added such a law which brings the total number of jurisdictions with a passing distance law to 42, a mix of countries and states.
He said: “These places have seen fit to have this debate, wrung out the issues and consequences, enacted the legislation and moved on to ll other important issues with respect to sharing of roads. Now it’s time that we in Ireland do the same.”
Skelton said: “The bill [originally proposed by Doherty and Cannon] received an exceptional amount of publicity and created much discussion. The aggressive nature of the commentary that many motorists were compelled to post to social media was a real indication of just how important this particular law really is. The confrontational reaction motorists displayed was actually a frightening example of the type of person who cyclists sometimes have to share the roads with each day.”
He is urging people to look up and contact their TDs.
Skelton said claims that the law is impossible to enforce is common but enforcement has happened in other countries by means of electric measuring devices attached to sting bicycles used by police, other police sting bicycles without such devices, and by use of private video footage from bicycle users.
He also said the idea behind the law is behavior change, not constant enforcement.
Here’s the draft amendment: