— 1.5 metre campaigner says “rule is less a trap than a reminder”.
Sinn Féin said this afternoon that it is not yet in a position to “support or reject” a proposed law outlining a minimum passing distance for motorists overtaking people on bicycles.
A statement issued from the party confirms an IrishCycle.com news article this morning which reported how Sinn Féin is the only political party which hasn’t a single TD and Senator who has declared support for the measure.
The proposed law change would introduce a minimum passing distance for motorists overtaking people on bicycles of 1 metre up to 50km/h and 1.5 metres over 50km/h.
The law change was originally proposed as a standalone bill by Fine Gael TDs — and now ministers — Ciaran Cannon and Regina Doherty. Then, late last year, Fianna Fáil transport spokesperson, Robert Troy, said he will bring forward Cannon’s and Doherty’s bill as an amendment to the road traffic bill. Besides Sinn Féin, it has supports which reaches beyond party lines.
The amendment on a safe passing distance of bicycles is due to be discussed at the Oireachtas transport committee on February 9.
A Sinn Féin spokesman said: “Sinn Féin has not at any stage indicated that we are not supporting Deputy Troy’s proposed amendment to the Road Traffic (Amendment) Bill. We are aware that Fianna Fáil intend to put forward amendments to the Road Traffic Amendment Bill at committee stage, in particular with regard to the overtaking of cyclists on our roads.”
He said: “When it is in committee for amendments, Sinn Féin will of course consider all practical measures that are tabled as amendments and will take on board all expert advice on the matter, including from An Garda Síochána. Based on that expert and Garda advice we will consider the proposals. Until that is the case, we are not in a position to support or reject anything.”
“The wider issue is one of enforcement and Garda resources. Road Traffic legislation and the enforcement of it — or lack thereof — is already a serious issue in this state. We have called on the Minister to consolidate existing road traffic legislation and to increase the Garda Traffic Corps to address these issues,” said spokesman for Sinn Féin.
On cycling safety in general, the party said: “Sinn Féin fully supports all practical measures to protect cyclists on our roads. Infrastructure for cycle lanes must be developed to ensure that cyclists can travel safely. Having sufficient cycle lanes will increase the number of cyclists, in particular those who cycle to work which will reduce car use, improving congestion in towns and cities.”
Phil Skelton, founder of Stayin Alive at 1.5, the Irish campaign for a passing distance law, said that other jurisdictions have been able to enforcement the law but it’s not about constant enforcement.
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“Other parties such as Fianna Fáil and Labour realise that the idea behind the law is behavior change, not constant enforcement. The rule is less a trap than a reminder — one class of road users is far more vulnerable than another with whom they are asked to share the space,” said Skelton.
He added: “42 jurisdictions have already dealt with this problem. These places have seen fit to have this debate, wring out the issues and consequences, enacted the legislation and have then moved on to still other important issues with respect to sharing of roads. Now it’s time now that we in Ireland do the same.”