Transport minister Shane Ross is to amend legislation to make it clear that cyclists in Ireland can choose to not use cycle lanes or segregated cycle paths.
“The Minister intends to amend the Road Traffic (Traffic and Parking) Regulations to clearly show that the use of cycle tracks is only mandatory for a cycle track in a pedestrianized area or for a contraflow cycle track,” said Jimmy Thompson, a spokesman for the Department of Transport.
He added: “Officials in the Department are currently working on the regulations and it is hoped to have them in place in the near future.”
Last year, minister Ross commissioned the Road Safety Authority to review the safety of cycle tracks and garner the opinion of cycling groups.
“Based on the survey conducted on behalf of the RSA as well as the view of international literature it cannot be definitively stated that cycle lane treatment provides safety benefits for cyclists and specific risks have been identified at roundabouts and junctions,”said Moyagh Murdock, CEO of the RSA.
Murdock said: “On that basis the RSA recommends that the use of cycle lane infrastructure by cyclists should be advisory rather than mandatory.”
She made the comments in a letter to the department in July and which was released this week under environmental FOI made by this website.
The law requiring people cycling to use cycle tracks — the legal name for most types of cycle lanes and cycle paths — was revoked by Leo Varadkar when he was transport minister in 2012.
But, in 2015, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) came to the view that the revocation never happened because of an error in the way the legislation was written. The interpretation by the DPP was passed onto the Department of Transport by the Garda National Roads Policing Bureau — the release of this advice is currently subject to an on-going appeal lodged recently with the Commissioner for Environmental Information.
This website understands the view that the legislation was flawed was based on a missing comma, but different legal experts consulted by cycling campaigners disagreed with the view that this invalidated the intent of the law.
Cycling campaigners said that the interpretation was flawed, that the ministerial intent was clear, and that, in any case, it was government policy, as set by the National Cycle Policy, to revoke mandatory use of cycle tracks.
The Road Safety Authority has refused to release details of the costs of the research, saying it was commissioned by the Department of Transport. The department responded by stating that it has no details of the cost of the research.