Two Fine Gael TDs — Ciaran Cannon and Government chief whip Regina Doherty — have published a private members Bill that will define a minimum passing distance for motorists overtaking cyclists.
The two TDs propose a 1.5 metres- distance in speed limit zones of 60km/h and over and 1 metre distance in zones with speed limits of under 50km/h.
The TDs say that Ireland would not be the first to have such a law — minimum passing distance laws are already in place in France, Belgium, Portugal, Australia, 26 US states and several provinces in Canada.
Motorists who dangerously overtake cyclists would risk an €80 fine and three penalty points, but the man behind the fine would prefer if no motorist was ever fined.
Phil Skelton, Stayin’ Alive at 1.5 campaign, said: “Personally I’d be delighted if no driver was ever charged under this proposed legislation if it means that 99.9999% of drivers are overtaking people on bicycles, with this defined safe margin for error.”
He made the comments this morning on the Stayin’ Alive at 1.5 Facebook page, where he welcomed the proposed legislation.
The proposed legislation however is not welcomed by all — a Journal.ie poll is currently showing 59% of people voting against the measure and many online and radio commentators have started to ask questions such as “what about when cyclists break red lights?”.
Deputy Cannon said: “A worrying amount of drivers seem to have a ‘no contact, no harm’ attitude. Over the last 24 months 20 cyclists have been killed on Irish roads. It is no longer acceptable to expose our cyclists to huge risks on our roads and this law sets out to significantly reduce those risks.”
Deputy Doherty, said: “We all need to share the roads and to do that they must be made safer.”
She added: “The only way to do this is to introduce a Minimum Passing Distance Law. Once a safe passing distance is legislated for, we need to significantly raise awareness of this law by amending the Rules of the Road and funding new public awareness campaigns.”
Mike McKillen of Cyclist.ie, a group which represents most of Ireland’s cycling campaigns, said: “A significant number of drivers in Ireland don’t give sufficient space to cyclists when overtaking them. This scares the life out of the rider and it’s akin to standing on the edge of a railway platform while the train thunders past you.”