Nearly 900 on-the-spot fines of €40 were handed out to bicycle users by the Gardai this year up to July 26.
The majority of the fines — just under 500 of them — were issued for breaking red lights, mostly for those at normal junctions with traffic lights and around 19 for running red lights at bicycle-only traffic lights, such as those on the Grand Canal Cycleway in Dublin (pictured above).
The fines — officially known as fixed charge notices — were issued at a rate of around 4.3 per day for this year. That’s up from the previous rate of just 2.4 per day recorded using data from the first nine months of the new fines system, between July 31, 2015 to May 12, 2016.
Garda press office confirmed to IrishCycle.com that of the 898 fines issued this year, 401 have been paid and the remainder are a mix of those who still have time to pay and those who have failed to pay. In the case of those who have failed to pay, court summons have been applied for. The Garda press office said that prosecution stats would have to be obtained from Court Services.
A breakdown of the fines was given as follows:
- A cyclist riding a pedal cycle without reasonable consideration = 144 FCN issued year to date.
- No front lamp or rear lamp lit during lighting-up hours. = 186 FCN issued year to date.
- Cycling in pedestrianised street or area. = 66 FCN issued year to date.
- A cyclist proceeding past traffic lights when the red lamp is illuminated. = 480 FCN issued year to date.
- A cyclist proceeding past cycle traffic lights when red lamp is lit = 19 FCN issued year to date.
- A cyclist failing to stop for a School Warden sign. = 1 FCN issued year to date.
- A cyclist going beyond a stop line, barrier or half barrier at a railway level crossing, swing bridge or lifting bridge, when the red lamps are flashing. = 1 FCN issued year to date.
While the fine starts at €40, if it is unpaid in 26 days the fine amount increases to €60, and if that is unpaid within 56 days the person will be summons to a district court where they could be liable for a court fine of up to €2,000.
The on-the-spot system acts as an alternative to bringing cyclists to court, where cyclists were often fined hundreds of euro and reportedly up to €750. The court system also would incur a conviction, legal costs and possable time off work for defendants, and it was also seen as waste of Gardai and the court’s time.
In a ten year time frame between 2003 and 2013, over 3,200 people were prosecuted under the court system. Gardai can still take suspected offenders to court for offences not covered by the fines, including cycling a bicycle while intoxicated.
A possable worry to cyclists and cycling groups is what seems to be a large increase in the use of fines for the vague offence of “riding a pedal cycle without reasonable consideration” — it is unclear what exact acts this is being used to cover. The “without reasonable consideration” category, used 70 times in the first 6 months of the new fines system, the use of this offence has more than doubled to 144 fines issued for the first 7 months of this year.
As we have reported before, there’s a limited amount of court reports available online referring to the offence of cycling without reasonable consideration, but the offence seems to generally relate to when more than one potentially action without reasonable consideration is carried out.
The without reasonable consideration cases reported online include: A 2015 case where a man from Terenure was reportedly found to be cycling without reasonable consideration after he cycled past a red light, without looking left or right, and whilst taking on a phone. In another case from the same year, a man was fined €200 in court for cycling on a footpath and running into the side of a car which was exiting a private driveway. In Galway in 2008, another man was convicted under this offence for cycling the wrong way off the roundabout and hitting a taxi.