Sinn Féin says it can’t “support or reject” cycling safety law until it hears Garda advise

— 1.5 metre campaigner says “rule is less a trap than a reminder”.

Sinn Féin said this afternoon that it is not yet in a position to “support or reject” a proposed law outlining a minimum passing distance for motorists overtaking people on bicycles.

A statement issued from the party confirms an IrishCycle.com news article this morning which reported how Sinn Féin is the only political party which hasn’t a single TD and Senator who has declared support for the measure.

The proposed law change would introduce a minimum passing distance for motorists overtaking people on bicycles of 1 metre up to 50km/h and 1.5 metres over 50km/h.

The law change was originally proposed as a standalone bill by Fine Gael TDs — and now ministers — Ciaran Cannon and Regina Doherty. Then, late last year, Fianna Fáil transport spokesperson, Robert Troy, said he will bring forward Cannon’s and Doherty’s bill as an amendment to the road traffic bill. Besides Sinn Féin, it has supports which reaches beyond party lines.

The amendment on a safe passing distance of bicycles is due to be discussed at the Oireachtas transport committee on February 9.

A Sinn Féin spokesman said: “Sinn Féin has not at any stage indicated that we are not supporting Deputy Troy’s proposed amendment to the Road Traffic (Amendment) Bill. We are aware that Fianna Fáil intend to put forward amendments to the Road Traffic Amendment Bill at committee stage, in particular with regard to the overtaking of cyclists on our roads.”

He said: “When it is in committee for amendments, Sinn Féin will of course consider all practical measures that are tabled as amendments and will take on board all expert advice on the matter, including from An Garda Síochána. Based on that expert and Garda advice we will consider the proposals. Until that is the case, we are not in a position to support or reject anything.”

“The wider issue is one of enforcement and Garda resources. Road Traffic legislation and the enforcement of it — or lack thereof — is already a serious issue in this state. We have called on the Minister to consolidate existing road traffic legislation and to increase the Garda Traffic Corps to address these issues,” said spokesman for Sinn Féin.

On cycling safety in general, the party said: “Sinn Féin fully supports all practical measures to protect cyclists on our roads. Infrastructure for cycle lanes must be developed to ensure that cyclists can travel safely. Having sufficient cycle lanes will increase the number of cyclists, in particular those who cycle to work which will reduce car use, improving congestion in towns and cities.”

Phil Skelton, founder of Stayin Alive at 1.5, the Irish campaign for a passing distance law, said that other jurisdictions have been able to enforcement the law but it’s not about constant enforcement.

“Other parties such as Fianna Fáil and Labour realise that the idea behind the law is behavior change, not constant enforcement. The rule is less a trap than a reminder — one class of road users is far more vulnerable than another with whom they are asked to share the space,” said Skelton.

He added: “42 jurisdictions have already dealt with this problem. These places have seen fit to have this debate, wring out the issues and consequences, enacted the legislation and have then moved on to still other important issues with respect to sharing of roads. Now it’s time now that we in Ireland do the same.”

9 Comments

  1. Has anyone seen FF’s amendment?

  2. Oh ok, so do SF not propose any legislation unless the Gardai give the say-so? Are the Gardai now the executive branch of our democracy?

    If resources are the problem then enact solutions to that problem. Don’t hinder legislation simply because the Gardai are under-resourced. Shall we take speeding off the statute books too, because that’s certainly not being enforced by the Gardai. 80-90% of people will speed in their cars on any single journey; and 100% of people will speed in their cars over the period of a week.

    Bullshit response from SF. They look very disingenuous from my point of view on this.

  3. In what way are SF “hindering legislation”?

  4. By being obtuse when asked about whether they support the idea of a MPDL, because they need to hear from the Gardai whether the Gardai think they can enforce it – that’s hindering the introduction of this much-needed legislation. If they don’t support the idea of a MPDL then they’re hindering it’s introduction.

  5. How is not stating a position on something until you’ve got the evidence for the amendment hindering it?

  6. Political party to take considered stance on issue and seek advice from experts rather than just jumping on populist bandwagon.

    And here comes the outrage from the usual quarters that they won’t just declare blind allegiance to Robert Troy despite the amendment not even being put forward yet…

    Absolutely ridiculous.

  7. SF have refused to say whether they are even in principle in favor of a MPDL. That’s what I’m highlighting here.

    If they had said “yes, in principle we’re in favor of protecting VRUs and we’d like to see the introducing of somesort of MPDL, but we’d also like to see the details of any specific bill before committing to that specific bill” …..well, you wouldn’t have any complaints from me.

    But that’s not what they’re doing. They’re being obtuse in all their responses. They still haven’t even said whether they’d like any sort of MPDL.

  8. Hi Zapp, welcome to the forums! Just curious who the “usual quarters” are given that you are an apparent first time poster. And regarding that “populist bandwagon” we are all on? I’ve no doubt you have some deep insight into such things from whatever corners of the internet you generally inhabit, but you’ll have to excuse us less politically sophisticated types if we naievely think a law prohibiting cars from passing too close when we cycle is a good idea rather than a manifestation of our deep political credulity.

    You are of course correct that it would be “absolutely ridiculous” to expect any SF representative to profess or have any opinion on this amendment on his or her own without recourse to expert opinion or indeed central party approval. And you certainly put us straight on the fact that the political machinations of FF and SF and the avoidance of having to “declare blind allegiance to Robert Troy”, far from being an irrelevant nonsense, is in fact the central focus of the whole debate.

    So clearly any fears we might have that a defendable reason to reject the amendment is being assembled by SF in the form of expert opinion that would likely focus on the difficulty of enforceability rather than intangibles like impact on driver behaviour, are utterly without foundation and another symptom of our collective political stupidity.

    So thanks again for enriching these forums with your concise, astute and unerringly accurate analysis. We have been duly admonished. Do call again.

  9. @Zapp Brannigan

    The Galway Cycling Campaign has released a briefing document on the MPDL proposals. As it happens it has a section dealing with issues thrown up by Robert Troy’s intervention.

    http://www.galwaycycling.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Briefing_Note_MPDL_2018_web.pdf

    If you are in touch with Sinn Féin then perhaps you could direct them to it as an additional source for consideration in defining their stance?

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