Last November a new offence of ‘dangerous overtaking of cyclists’ was introduced, it carries a higher fine of €120 as well as three penalty points. How you can report such dangerous overtaking is explained in this article by Paul Corcoran, a former chairperson of the Dublin Cycling Campaign, who has recently reported cases to the Gardai.
I’ve cycled all my life — to school, university and now to my place of employment. I’ll always remember standing dumbfounded in Copenhagen on my way to India for a trekking holiday and walking around the segregated cycle lanes and wondering why can’t we do this.
When I arrived back in Dublin in 2015, I got involved with the Dublin Cycling Campaign. Partly to meet like minded people and to make a difference, but also having a positive way of dealing with the daily life-threatening incidents on my commute and the lack of political support for cycling as a mode of transport.
By 2016 I was the chairperson of the campaign and lending our support to Phil Skelton’s Stayin’ Alive at 1.5 campaign was an obvious choice. Phil’s campaign, which sought a 1.5 metre overtaking distance law, led to the dangerous overtaking of cyclists law, with a higher fine than the general dangerous overtaking law.
Why I felt the need to get a camera
My morning commute is a mixed bag of poor quality cycling infrastructure to no infrastructure at all. Most of my near misses or dangerous overtaking incidents take place at the same locations, where there is a no cycling provision or pinch points.
After frustration of no improvements to infrastructure and sending countless emails to the council over the years, I eventually invested in a camera. Following on from looking over many comments online, I chose a Cycliq front and rear bicycle lights and cameras combo for €400 via Amazon.
I only decided to invest in an expensive camera setup after I bought a cheaper camera for around €60 and found that the quality of the image prevents you from getting registration details due to vibration. The camera mount was also cumbersome, making the camera hard to remove.
So far, I am very happy with the Cycliq setup. It has a nice user friendly software to download to your computer and syncs well with my phone via Bluetooth, which you can use to check your battery power before leaving the house. The Cycliq software enables you to edit the videos for uploading clips and has more details features for measuring distance from the bicycle. I haven’t set this up as the incidents I’m reporting are plain to see that the car or van is too close.
After getting the software installed on my computer and purchased the recommended SD cards I set up the date and time on the cameras before leaving the house, which is important to have right if you need to report an incident.
Unfortunately, without video footage it will be almost impossible to proceed, as it will end up being your word against the driver’s, unless you have a witness to the incident which can be difficult to find on a busy road.
Same driver coming too close twice motivated my first report
I bought the cameras last December and, within a few days, I had a near miss from a van driver on the Carpenterstown Road. The driver decided to overtake me with oncoming traffic and they had to pull in close to me to avoid the car at the last minute.
After I got home, I downloaded the footage and I had meant to go down to the Garda station, but was delayed with a new baby arrival at home. Shortly afterwards, I got another close pass from the same van so it was the extra motivation to go to the local Garda station.
Reporting dangerous overtaking at a Garda station
Campaigners would like to see an online portal where video footage could be uploaded that would streamline the reporting process. This system works well in the UK and Australia. But, for now, you have to visit a Garda station, usually the one closest to where the incident happened.
I went to the Garda station early on a Sunday morning when it is quiet. I went into the foyer and waited my turn and was greeted by a Garda officer. I said I want to report a “dangerous overtaking of a cyclist”. They requested to see the footage and I had the videos saved to my phone to show the officer and they agreed that the incidents were an example of dangerous overtaking of a cyclist.
The following details will likely be asked for:
- Direction of travel
- Video footage and brand name of camera
- How the experience made you feel
- Car registration details, colour, make and model
- Bicycle model and details
- Address and contact details
Editor’s note: We’ve heard that some Garda stations want to download the footage direct from the camera onto the station’s computer, while others will accept video on the USB sticks.
After all of the details were written down in statement (basically a story of the incident) you are asked to sign that it is true. Normally what is called ‘a Pulse number’ is generated when an officer uploads the statement to the Garda Pulse system. It’s important to get this number as it is a specific reference to the incident, and ask them for their details such as email and Garda number.
What happened next
On my first report, the officer was in contact via email on updates. But this can differ — on my second, a letter arrived 2 days after reporting with a Pulse number, and, on my third report, the officer phoned and said a fine (called ‘fixed charged notice’) would be issued to the driver and, if challenged by the driver, they will get back in contact and ask me to make a statement with a view of this going to court. Usually, you’ll be asked to make a statement first.
After the statement is finished, the officer might show the video to Garda traffic officer to gauge how serious the incident was, and then they will take the video evidence and statement to their Sergeant or senior staff on ask how to proceed. After approval from the Sergeant, the officer will contact the driver and tell them about the incident, statement and look for their side of the story.
I’m still waiting to see if any of my reports will go to the courts. I would assume most reports will be accepted by drivers and take the fine and penalty points. The quality of the footage is hard to argue against, but I may be wrong! Time will tell.
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