Sinn Féin is the only party which hasn’t a single TD and Senator who has declared support for a proposed minimum passing distance for motorists overtaking people on bicycles, according to a tracker run by I Bike Dublin.
The proposed law comes after 15 people cycling were killed while cycling on Irish roads last year and a high percentage of such deaths in recent years involved a motorist overtaking a bicycle on a rural road.
Fianna Fáil transport spokesperson, Robert Troy, said he will bring forward the amendment to the road traffic bill with the intention of introducing the minimum passing distance law for motorists overtaking cyclists, with a minimum distance of 1 metre up to 50km/h and 1.5 metres over 50km/h.
The amendment on a safe passing distance of bicycles is due to be discussed at the Oireachtas transport committee on February 9.
The main goal of the update to the road traffic law is close a loop hole on drink driving laws so that drivers with a full license caught with a lower level of alcohol would automatically face ban, rather than a fine and points which is currently the case.
Fianna Fáil has abstained on the main issue up to the committee stage, but the party has indicated opposition to it.
Sinn Féin are notable as the only party with no declared support for the minimum passing distance proposals which are to be attached to the bill as an amendment.
Requests for comment to the Sinn Féin press office were unanswered.
I Bike Dublin said that they were asking Sinn Féin to change its position on the amendment which is “designed to save lives is the only decent approach.”
Lucille Redmond, spokeswoman for I Bike Dublin said: “I Bike Dublin felt it was necessary to monitor Oireachtas members’ intentions, because party politics should not be allowed play a role in the decision to support this law. It is simply a life saving measure, one which has been proven to reduce deaths on the roads in jurisdictions where similar legislation was adopted.”
“Opposition to the proposal from Freight Transport Association Ireland (FTAI) has been based on disseminating a doubt over the technical feasibility of enforcing a minimum passing distance law. However, FTAI’s position is demonstrably untrue and has its source in biased interests,” she said.
The group said that the opposition to the law change, publicly headed by FTAI, has so-far succeeded in influencing several people with the myth the law is unenforceable, including transport minister Shane Ross, some members of the transport committee and, “apparently, Sinn Féin as a whole.”
Redmond said: “Technical solutions for the implementation of minimum passing distances have been introduced in 42 different jurisdictions internationally. Indeed, at the recent Young Scientists Exhibition at the RDS, one of the best projects was a home made device for measuring overtaking distance, which could even photograph number plates. The student, 13-year-old Ben Soroos, suggested that the data could even be uploaded to the Gardai if they adopted a facility to receive online reports.”
She added: “For all these reasons, the position adopted by Sinn Féin is extremely disappointing to the 93,000 people using bikes to commute around Dublin everyday, and the many more around the country. It is concerning that the party would take a political position on a measure which was designed to save lives, based on an unfounded doubt put forward by an organisation that feels its members will benefit from maintaining the current situation – with no law on close passes, people on bicycles being frequently exposed to life-threatening close passes by drivers who – despite being professional drivers – are careless at the wheel.”
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