Just 47 motorists were fined and given points for the offence of dangerously overtaking a cyclist since the law was introduced in 2019, according to provisional figures released this week.
The law is broad and includes both overtaking or attempting to overtake in a manner that endangers a cyclist or even which causes inconvenience to a cyclist. However, IrishCycle.com understands from accounts from members of the public that there is a bit of a “postcode lottery” in the enforcement of the law when similar incidents are reported to different Garda stations, even where video evidence is provided in all cases.
From accounts from members of the public, some people are being brushed off, while other cases are being charged under lower offences, including the general overtaking offences, which carries a lower fine.
The law change was promoted as a Government reaction to the Stayin’ Alive at 1.5 campaign run by Phil Skelton. It was implemented in November 2019 by then transport minister Shane Ross. Before the law was changed, the fine for dangerous passing of any vehicle, including a bicycle, was €80. Minister Ross increased the fine for dangerously passing a cyclist to €120. The punishment for both offences also includes three penalty points.
Last year, Skelton told IrishCycle.com that the 28 fines issued in the first year of the new law was in line with the first year of the passing law in Australia, but he said improvements are needed.
Skelton and others have also been calling for an online portal for members of the public to report driving offences and submit video and photo evidence — IrishCycle.com will have more on that issue in a separate story in the coming days.
The details of how many fines were issued were contained in a parliamentary question asked by Waterford TD Marc Ó Cathasaigh (Green Party). He asked the Minister for Justice for “the number of fixed charge notices which have been issued by An Garda Síochána using the new statutory instrument for dangerous overtaking of cyclists since the law was introduced in November 2019.”
A written reply in the name of acting Minister for Justice, Heather Humphreys said: “Fixed Charge Notices can be issued for offences related to overtaking or attempting to overtake in a manner which endangers or causes inconvenience to a cyclist. I am informed by the Garda authorities that 47 Fixed Charge Notices have been issued for these offences since the law was introduced in November 2019.”
The reply added: “I am advised that these figures are based on incidents which occurred from 12 November 2019 to 23 September 2021, inclusive. I am further informed that these figures are based upon operational data from the Fixed Charge Processing System as was available on 24 September 2021, and are liable to change.”