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Fine Gael Senator wants to criminalise cycling without high-vis on rural roads

Rural road
No footpath? No lights on the road? Tom Shehan wants pedestrians and cyclists to wear high-vis.

A Fine Gael Senator and former TD from Co Kerry wants to force cyclists and pedestrians to wear high-vis on rural roads.

Tom Shehan — who seems to have recurring “run-ins” with people walking on rural roads and claims that drivers are seen to be “always to blame” — raised the issue on February 4.

He requested that the minister for justice should be asked to come into the Seanad to “discuss the possibility of making it compulsory for pedestrians and cyclists… to wear reflective jackets in areas where there are no footpaths or lighting.” 

Shehan highlighted how three cyclists have been killed already this year. However, online records of Oireachtas debates shows that this is the first time he has mentioned cyclists as a Senator and he never once mentioned them in the Dail as his time as a TD. According to records, he has also never mentioned cycling or bicycle in Oireachtas debates.

In February he said: “As it stands, I had a run-in with this over Christmas. I met a man who walks the roads and wears a long dark coat. God forbid any poor driver might come along and be unfortunate enough to be involved in an accident. I put it to the man on two occasions over Christmas that I would bring him a reflective jacket. He said that he had three of them at home but would not wear them. It is okay because the person who will get knocked down by a car at 25 mph will be killed, but the person driving the car will have to live with that for the rest of his or her life.”

“I believe it should be compulsory for people walking and for cyclists in areas where there are no footpaths or lighting to wear reflective jackets,” he added.

This is a recurring issue on country roads at Christmas time for the Senator. In 2012, he told the Seanad a similar story: “Over Christmas, I was quite fortunate that I did not kill three young people on the side of a dark, unlit country road because they were wearing dark coats and trousers without high visibility jackets. I got the fright of my life from the experience.”

“There is a feeling among the community that anybody who is unfortunate enough to knock somebody down on the roads is nearly always to blame — either the driver was speeding, the driver had drink taken or the driver had done this or that. Given the number of people who are walking our roads in pure blackness, wearing dark clothes, it should be a criminal offence not to wear a high visibility vest when walking the roads at night,” he said. is reader-funded journalism. That means it's funded by readers like you.

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Cian Ginty


  1. Indeed. If you are driving fast enough to not see an unlit pedestrian or cyclist, you are driving to fast for the road conditions full stop. What about if a tree, overturned vehicle, or loose horse/cow was on the road? That’d do a lot more damage to your front bonnet than a child walking home….

  2. And so the fatwah against cyclists continues! Yet another “public representative” decides to alienate members of “the public”. Then again being a Senator is hardly being a REAL Public Representative, is it?

    Putting aside the Senator’s jaundiced views of “Other” road users, i.e. anyone not in a motor vehicle, I take it that he was “on Dáil Business” when he was not “driving with due care and attention” and fortunately managed not to kill yet three more vulnerable road users.

    Perhaps the good Senator could use his good offices to encourage a little Law enforcement when it comes to reckless behavior on our roads?


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