— And continues push for mandatory high-vis vests for pedestrians.
Fianna Fáil transport spokesman Robert Troy has said he intends to suggest attaching a minimum passing distance law the Road Traffic Bill 2017, but he also wants mandatory helmets for cyclists and high-vis for pedestrians.
His party are also opposing mandatory disqualification for lower-levels of drink driving — the main point of the bill.
According to the Dail record on KildareStreet.com, Robert Troy yesterday said: “This is an opportunity to tackle the scourge that is cyclist and the significant number of cyclists involved in fatalities this year. I intend to table an amendment that will ensure there is a minimum required passing distance for cars overtaking cyclists. I hope the Minister will support it.”
He directly added: “It should be mandatory for all cyclists to wear a helmet at all times. I have already discussed with the Minister the need for pedestrians to wear high-visibility jackets on unlit roads. That is another amendment which I will bring forward on Committee Stage. The Minister shares my concern and supported me when I raised the matter previously. This is an opportunity to address the issue.”
On Twitter this morning, he clarified that he meant the scourge that is cyclist’s deaths, not cyclists themselves. He tweeted: “My apologies if it came across I was anti cyclists 🚴 – I was referring to the scourge of cycling deaths & we must use this bill to address.”
Responding on Twitter, the junior minister for diaspora and international development, Ciaran Cannon said that he would be deeply grateful for a safe passing distances law, but mandatory helmets and hi-vis would have a “seriously detrimental effect” on cycling. Cannon was an advocate for cycling before he became a junior minister.
On Twitter this afternoon, Minister Cannon said: “Robert, I and all members of Ireland’s cycling community would be deeply grateful to you for proposing an amendment to provide for safe passing distances. It would be truly groundbreaking and would enhance cyclist safety overnight.”
He added: “The other proposed amendments re helmets and hi-vis would have a seriously detrimental effect on cyclist numbers nationally and this has been proven by experience in other jurisdictions. They would also unjustly shift blame for accidents on to our cyclists.”
POLL: Would you accept mandatory helmets and high-vis for cycling in return for a minimum overtaking distance law? Answer on Twitter.
The Road Traffic Bill is focused on removing a designed loophole which allows drivers avoid getting automatically disqualified when caught drink driving with between 50 and 80 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood, drunk drivers in that range can choose to accept three penalty points.
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Transport minister Shane Ross said: “The Bill will remove this anomaly. In place of the relatively trivial three penalty points, there will be a three-month disqualification. This is a short period but it is a disqualification. It is short because it is in the lowest bracket of those over the alcohol limit. Anything less would simply say – as the law so regrettably does at present – that a little alcohol over the legal limit before driving is not a serious matter.”
Fianna Fáil have objected to an automated disqualification suggested a €500 fine and five penalty points instead.
Deputy Troy said: “What the Minister and my party differ on is not the fact it is illegal, because currently that is what is in law, but on the sanctions that apply to motorists found to have a blood alcohol level in excess of 50 mg.”
He added: “The Minister portrays this legislation cynically in suggesting it will make a huge difference. He portrays Fianna Fáil as being soft on the issue. For this small category, we do not believe it is proportionate, in that somebody who has done the right thing and who took a taxi home the night before but who may be marginally over the limit the following morning, having done everything right, could potentially lose his or her driving licence for three months. As a consequence of this, such people could lose their job, which would have a huge impact on their family.”