Department of Transport officials said yesterday that they only have three documents to support the claim that the legislation which revoked mandatory use of cycle tracks is incorrect — but one of these has no detailed information and the department refuses to release the other two.
The department’s claim made to this website earlier this year is contradicted by the explanatory note under the relevant 2012 regulations, a departmental press office statement just before the regulations were introduced and a Dail statement by the then Minister of Transport Leo Varadkar which said it was Government Policy to remove mandatory use. While transport minister, Varadkar accepted praise for changing the law and revoking mandatory use.
The records that the Department of Transport refuses to release under a Freedom of Information request are “Email from Garda National Roads Policing Bureau – 13 May 2015” and “Director of Public Prosecutions response to queries – May 2015.”
The department released a document called “Minutes of Legislative Meeting with Garda National Roads Policing Bureau – 10 December 2015”, but this document only contains the following releveled information:
“The release of any and all records which support the Department of Transport claim that the explanatory note of SI 332 of 2012 incorrect, as stated by the Department’s press office: “The explanatory note attached to the 2012 Regulation is incorrect in stating that only use of contraflow cycle track and of any cycle track in pedestrianised area is mandatory” (email from PressOffice@dttas.ie dated July 11, 2016 at 12:10).”
IrishCycle.com is awaiting a response relating to an Access to Information on Environment request for the same information.
Meanwhile, the Department of Transport has repeated their claim that the mandatory use law was not revoked in a reply to a written parliamentary question.
The reply — published on KildareStreet.com — was in the name of Minister Shane Ross and was to a question by TD Maria Bailey (Dún Laoghaire, Fine Gael). Deputy Bailey asked: “If it is still mandatory that cyclists use cycle lanes in all cases; and if he will make a statement on the matter.”
Minister Ross said: “The Road Traffic (Traffic and Parking) Regulations 1997 set out the current law in relation to the use of cycle tracks. These Regulations were amended in 2012 by article 16(e) of the Road Traffic (Traffic and Parking) (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulation 2012 as follows:”
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The 2012 regulations were then quoted:
- “(4) A pedal cycle shall be driven on a cycle track where-
- (a) a cycle track is provided on a road, a portion of a road, or an area at the entrance to which traffic sign number RUS 021 (pedestrianised street or area) is provided, or
- (b) a cycle track is a contra-flow cycle track where traffic sign number RUS 059 is provided and pedal cycles shall only be driven in a contra-flow direction on such track.”
Then the reply in Minister Ross’s name continues: “To set it out as clearly as possible: a pedal cycle shall be driven on a cycle track where a cycle track is provided on a road; a pedal cycle shall be driven on a cycle track where a cycle track is provided on a portion of a road and a pedal cycle shall be driven on a cycle track where a cycle track is provided on an area at the entrance to which traffic sign number RUS 021 (pedestrianised street or area) is provided.”
Legal sources, however, have said that the department’s new reading of the regulations does not make sense given the lack of separate clauses to cover different situations, as well as what is said in the explanatory note, and the ministerial intent. Sources say that section (4) (a) should be viewed as only relating to different types of pedestrianised roads, sections of roads which are pedestrianised and areas which are pedestrianised.
In a statement which brings the department view back to when the last Government decided to change the law, Ross added: “My officials are currently reviewing the Department’s policy with regard to the mandatory use of cycle tracks and are consulting with the Road Safety Authority and An Garda Síochána to seek their views. Before any amendments might be made to the Regulations with regard to the mandatory use of cycle lanes, I wish to satisfy myself that any such measures strike an appropriate balance between the view.”