Four motorists in Co Dublin issued with fines in first year of dangerous passing of cyclists law

Campaigners have expressed concern that there is confusion among Gardai in Dublin about a ‘dangerous passing of cyclists’ law introduced just over a year ago.

As reported in another article today, Phil Skelton, who runs the Staying Alive at 1.5 campaign which led to the law change, said that the national figures are in line with what was seen Australia but he said more action was needed and voiced concern about comments from some Gardai.

He said that comments from the Gardai at the Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown Joint Policing Committee were worrying and seemed to display some misunderstanding of the legislation. Skelton added: “I would also like to see a mandatory training module developed for Gardai so that everyone is on the same page.”

Bébhinn Murphy, who is the Public Participation Network representative nominated by Dublin Cycling Campaign to the Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown Joint Policing Committee, said: “I was surprised to learn of a total absence of Fixed Charge Penalty Notice issued or prosecutions initiated in Dublin Metropolitan Region East regarding this new offence which was introduced a year ago to help protect cyclists of all ages on our roads.”

“Of particular surprise is that An Garda Síochána in their written replies view this offence as requiring measurement, which we were told at the time of its introduction is specifically not required,” she said.

Murphy added: “I believe there is also confusion around whether this is an ‘intercept only’ offence which would require a member of An Garda Síochána to personally observe the close pass or if video evidence can be relied on.”

In a written response to a Joint Policing Committee question submitted by the campaign on the number fines issued, the Gardai said: “The offence of dangerously overtaking of cyclists was introduced in November 2019. Regrettably, it is a particularly difficult offence to prove in Court as An Garda Slochana have no way of measuring the distance between a cyclist and an overtaking vehicle at the time of the alleged offence being committed.”

However, as also reported in our other article today, because of the advice from the Attorney General at the time, the law did not include a measurable distance and instead was left more broad`, mirroring the wording of the general dangerous overtaking law. It states that drivers must not “overtake or attempt to overtake if to do so would endanger or cause inconvenience to a pedal cyclist”.

The local Garda response continued: “The DMR East Division has not issued any Fixed Charge Penalty Notices for the offence of dangerously overtaking a pedal cyclist since the introduction of this Legislation. The Dublin Metropolitan Garda Region has only issued 4 Fixed Charge penalty Notices for this offence since the legislation was introduced.”

The response concluded: “The DMR East Roads Policing Unit receive almost daily ‘Traffic Watch’ complaints from cyclists and each of these various complaints is fully investigated and the conclusion of these complaints results in either the matters being dealt with by Advice, Cautions or Fixed Charge Penalty Notices being issued for other offences being disclosed.”

CASE STUDY: ‘Not enough evidence’ when footage showed bus in the cycle lane as it passed bicycle

In one case this year, a member of the public, Daniel Dunne, reported a close pass to Store Street Garda Station in the DMR North Central Division.

He said the bus driver he reported was about 20cm to his handle bars, with bicycle camera footage of the bus entering the cycle lane he was cycling in but Gardai told him there was not enough evidence.

After reporting the close pass, a Garda at Store Street Garda Station replied to : “Unfortunately there is not enough evidence to sustain a fixed charged penalty notice in this case. The details and footage along with your statement was given to my supervisory Sergeant and he has directed due to insufficient evidence that there will be no further action taken in this incident. Apologies for the bad news.”

This is in line what IrishCycle.com has heard from other members of the public that how seriously reporting of close passes is taken can vary between Garda stations and when individual traffic police or other Gardai process the issue, it is often shot down by senior officers who have to approve prosecutions.

MORE: 28 fines issued to Irish motorists in first year of dangerous overtaking of cyclists law 

Cian Ginty
I am editor of IrishCycle.com and have reported on and commented on cycling in Ireland for over a decade. My background is in journalism -- I have a BA in Journalism from DCU and HDip in Print Journalism from BCFE. I wrote about cycling for national newspapers, and then started CyclingInDublin.com for overflow stories. Later the website was re-branded to reflect a more national focus.
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8 COMMENTS

  1. it is terrible that so few fines are been issued looking at that video the coach has to move over as the road narrows there it is actually a dangerous spot for a cycle track as the road is not wide enough for anything bigger than a van to pass. courts can be difficult with cases as most need evidence as it would be a civil case rather than criminal . i know that as i went into a garda station once with video taken of a car flying through a red pedestrian light and was told it would be my word against theirs as a garda had not witnessed it.

  2. That video of the overtake by the bus is exactly what gives cyclists a bad reputation. The bus is entering a pinch point and arrived before the cyclist, who doesn’t make any attempt to slow down and anticipate the issue – instead, going as fast as he can to create the “problem”. I think the garda response was too timid and the cyclist should have been told to stop acting like a tosser on the road and meeting trouble half way. No doubt the cyclist want to “beat” the bus to the pinch point and force the bus to stop. The cycle lane is shared use, recognising that larger vehicles need to use the space at that pinch point. Cyclists will get little sympathy if this is the type of thing they are complaining about!

  3. @Joe — You’re not making any sense. The bus driver is overtaking, and it’s the responsibility of the person overtaking to do so safely.

    Your attitude is exactly what gets people killed.

  4. Just leave my comment up, reasonable people will recognise that my post makes perfect sense and calls out the drama seeking antics of a totally unreasonable cyclist who is a danger to himself and other road users. I dont expect you to understand.

  5. I intend to leave your comment up — it shows you don’t know the law on overtaking and are trying to make generalisations about people who cycle based partly on your lack of understanding of the law.

  6. @Joe — if you could have a bit of respect in your comments here or your comments will not be allowed. Feel free to disagree but name calling is childish and won’t be allowed here.

    As I’ve already said, Gardai not acting is not proof of what you’re saying it is. Often one Garda station will act on what another won’t.

    With regards to the video, you’ve yet to explain how it complied with the general law on overtaking, which states:

    “A driver shall not overtake, or attempt to overtake, unless the roadway ahead of the driver—

    (a) is free from approaching traffic, pedestrians and any obstruction, and

    (b) is sufficiently long and wide to permit the overtaking to be completed without danger or inconvenience to other traffic or pedestrians.”

  7. @Joe — happy to approve comments with different views, but I won’t be publishing comments which foaming at the mouth or troll-like.

    Put simply: If you’re an adult, please act like it. If you want to act childish and engage in name calling and massive generalisations, you’re not welcome here.

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