— Cycling campaigners claim Gardai are ignoring parking in cycle lanes and motorists overtaking bicycles too closely
— Traffic lights detection looks not responding to bicycles is “not a policing issue”
People who break the law while cycling bicycles are to be warned in the next two weeks ahead of an enforcement blitz from August 1, when on-the-spot fines are to be introduced.
From August, a system of €40 on-the-spot fines will partly replace the current system of summons to court where bicycle users are often subject to fines of €80-€300 or more. The current system is seen as a waste of court and garda time and resources.
Gardai and the Road Safety Authority are to undertake a PR, media, social media, and on-the-ground campaign highlighting the planned €40 fines which will cover a number of current offences, including: breaking red lights, cycling after dark without lights, cycling on a pedestrianised street, and the generalised “driving a pedal cycle without reasonable consideration”.
Members of the Gardai are, in the next two weeks, to stop people who are breaking the law while cycling and warn them that fines will be handed out soon for such behavior. The jobs of enforcement may be easier than first thought, as some commuters are reporting more compliance with the red light laws since the on-the-spot fines were officially confirmed recently.
The news of the planned blitz comes after a meeting between Cyclist.ie cycling campainers and the Gardai, represented by superintendent John Ferris, Garda Press Office and inspector Michael O’Connor of the Dublin Metropolitan Area Traffic Corps.
Campainers from Cyclist.ie said that there seems to be “discretionary policing” regarding motorists parking in cycle lanes and overtaking bicycles too close, while the planned on-spot-fines will be enforced more widely.
In a statement, Cyclist.ie, which represents most but not all Irish cycling campaigns, said: “We did get a clear sense that they are much more favourable to ignoring certain motor vehicle infractions, in order to ‘keep business moving’, rather than considering the issue of a safer environments for all road users. They appear to have a very car-centric view of traffic management. It was clear that fix charge notices [for cycling offences] are coming in on 1st August and will be fully implemented.”
Cyclist.ie said that in the meeting they highlighted the #freethecyclelanes campaign which shows widespread illegal and inconsiderate parking in cycle lanes. The campaign said that they were told that when strict enforcement is undertaken, the Gardai received a lot of complaints from businesses, business associations, HGV drivers, taxis and transport companies.
The campaign said that: “It would seem that free-flow of motorised traffic in urban areas remains a priority for An Garda over the safety of people who cycle or might cycle if conditions were more
Cyclist.ie added: “We tried to impress on them the real safety issue of dangerous overtaking of cyclists and how drivers were skimming past riders in bus lanes and general vehicle lanes but the response was that it’s the given space we all have to operate in and drivers have to go about their business even if it meant squeezing dangerously past us. They maintained that this problem is the responsibility of the design engineers in road authorities.”
The campaign said that they pointed out that the Gardai only managed to issue 144 fines to motorists parking in a cycle track, nationally in 2014. They said that the figure was provided in response to a parliamentary question.
“We are still very concerned that the more serious issues of motor vehicles exceeding speed limits, overtaking closely/dangerously and fly-parking in cycle tracks are not being addressed in a way that will make Irish roads safe and attractive environments in which to walk or cycle for people of all
ages and abilities,” Cyclist.ie said.
When the issue of traffic lights not responding to bicycles was raised, the campaign claim that they were told that it was not a policing issue and the issues should be reported to councils.