— “The Rules Of The Road is not the Law” says RSA
Changes to what the Rules of the Road stated about the need for cyclists to use cycle tracks were carried out at the start of this year because of Department of Transport advice, the Road Safety Authority said yesterday.
Last year the Rules of the Road — a document which is supposed to act as a layman’s guide to Irish road traffic law — indicated that cyclists only had to use cycle tracks on pedestrian streets and areas, and contra flow cycle tracks. This was in line with the widely held view that mandtory use of cycle lanes was revoked in a 2012 law change.
A version of the Rules of the Road downloaded in 2015 states: “REMEMBER Cyclists must use any cycle track provided as part of a pedestrian street or area, or as part of a contra flow cycle track.” In January or February of 2016 a new version was uploaded which stated: “REMEMBER Cyclists must use any cycle track provided.”
The 2015 version of the rules reflected the explanatory note under the most recent legislative change to the law covering cycle tracks — the Department of Transport has claimed that that the explanatory note is incorrect, while cycling campaigners have claimed that the department’s view is a “clear misinterpretation” of the law.
Originally the RSA indicated that the Rules of the Road had not changed in recent years, but after we provided screenshots of two different versions of the rules, the RSA confirmed the change.
Late yesterday afternoon, a spokeswoman for the RSA said: “The Rules Of The Road is not the Law – it is simply an interpretation of the law from a road safety point of view. Readers with queries about the law are urged to check the legislation or to ask a Garda.”
She added: “The 2013 ROTR reflected the advice contained in the explanatory notice for SI332 /2012. The RSA was subsequently advised by DTTAS that the explanatory notice did not reflect the relevant section in SI 332 of 2012 and its most recent edition the RSA sought to clarify the law as it currently stands.”
The advice to “ask a Garda” about legislation is likely to annoy some cyclists given that individual Garda often give conflicting advice, and some officers try to claim helmets or high-vis (which they are not).
A screenshot from page 190 of the Rules of the Road version downloaded in 2015:
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A screenshot from page 189 of the latest version of the rules, download this year: