— Group says it does not condone illegal behaviour by cyclists.
— UPDATE: Gardai say operation focused on illegally parked cars too, not just cyclists.
An operation by Gardai targeting road traffic offences by people cycling in Cork last week was an attempt to deflect criticism away from Gardai acting on illegal parking in cycle lanes, the Cork Cycling Campaign has claimed.
Two Fridays ago, on January 26, the Evening Echo reported of complaints that the fee cycle lanes available in Cork City are often used as illegal parking and that the “authorities have turn a blind eye to the issue.”
Sergeant Niall Daly of the traffic unit told the Echo that Gardaí are tackling the issue, and that they take the issue very seriously.
But in the article about motorists abusing cycle lanes, the Echo reported that Sergeant Daly said: “We would advise all cyclists to wear fluorescent jackets and be seen on the roads. Maximum visibility is the objective. You must have front and back lights or reflectors but as well as that a reflective jacket will help ensure you are seen on the roads.”
UPDATED: A spokesperson at the Garda press office said: “There was a local Garda operation initiated within the City following issues raised at local Joint Policing Committee meetings. The operation focused on both careless pedal cyclist activity as well as illegal parking on cycle paths by motorists.”
The Cork Cycling Campaign said that it regularly discusses traffic and policing issues with community and policing committees in Cork.
A statement from the group said: “Over many years, we have raised our concerns about motorists parking in cycle lanes. Vehicles parked in cycle lanes pose a serious hazard to cyclists, who are forced out into the stream of fast moving, heavy vehicles. Manoeuvring around parked cars poses an obvious, potentially fatal danger to cyclists.”
“Regrettably, we have seen little serious or sustained engagement by gardai to cyclists’ repeated concerns on this issue. In contrast, gardai responded very rapidly to public criticism to parking in cycle lanes in last week’s Evening Echo by targeting cyclists for other offences. This seems to be a transparent attempt to blame the victim and to deflect criticism of gardai on to cyclists,” the campaign said.
The Cork Cycling Campaign said it is “extremely disappointed” by the Garda’s response.
It said: “We reiterate our assertion that parking in cycle lanes poses a grave danger to cyclists – it therefore should be a primary concern for An Garda Síochána, for which ‘reducing the incidence of fatal and serious injuries on our roads and improving road safety’ is a core function.”
They said they intend to seek a meeting with senior Gardai to discuss this matter further.”
The statement added: “The Cork Cycling Campaign advocates for mutual respect among all road users. We do not condone illegal behaviour by cyclists, and adult cyclists should not cycle on footpaths where tolerably safe cycling conditions exist on the road or cycle paths. (We note that this is not always the case.)”
The Garda press office was contacted for a comment on the Cork Cycling Campaign’s statement — we will update this article with a reply if we get one.