Cycling campaigners have expressed disbelief at the view from the Department of Transport that the mandtory use of cycle tracks law was not revoked in 2012, as had been widely believed.
Calling the department’s position a misinterpretation of a law change which campaigners had warmly welcomed, Colm Ryder, chairman of Cyclist.ie, said: “As outlined in the minister’s statement at the time, and in the explanatory note accompanying SI 332/2012, the intent was to ensure that cyclists were not obliged to use cycle lanes except in very limited situations.”
He added: “The latest statement from the Department of Transport’s press office indicates a completely different interpretation on mandatory use to that outlined in SI 332/2012. Cyclist.ie, the Irish Cycling Advocacy Network is extremely disappointed with the department’s about turn on this issue, its clear misinterpretation of SI 332/2012, its apparent refutation of national policy on the issue, and the lack of consultation with cycling advocates.”
Shane Foran, a veteran cycling campaigner and committee member of the Galway Cycling Campaign, said: “In 2012 the Minister published regulations giving effect to the Government’s intent in this matter. Compulsory use ended apart from contra-flow cycle tracks and cycle tracks in pedestrian zones. The new regulations were widely welcomed at the time by cycling interests. If there was any doubt on the matter, the minister’s office was free to clarify the issue and clearly they would have done so if there was any doubt.
He added: “It would appear that now four years later, some individuals in the department are attempting to offer a different interpretation of the regulations and the Minister’s intent. It is noteworthy that this new interpretation did not appear until a new minister came into office.”
“While the minister’s explanatory note is not an interpretation of the law it nevertheless acts as a guide for anyone seeking to interpret the law. The Dail record further supports the general interpretation that has been put on these regulations since their publication. In my understanding, it is open to the courts to take these sources as guidance in interpreting the law,” he said.