A cyclist in Dublin has detailed to IrishCycle.com how he was given the runaround when he reported a motorist overtaking within inches of his bicycle handlebars and then struggled in attempting to prompt Gardai into acting on the issue.
The incident with a driver of a van happened on October 12 and was reported to Coolock Garda Station on the same day. The cyclist — who asked not to be named — contacted this website shortly after the incident last year when he felt that the officer he was reporting the incident to was making excuses.
The cyclist shared the efforts he went to over the last few months as he tried to get the issue resolved including visiting the Garda station to report the issue and following up with many emails and phone calls.
As this website has previously covered, the offence of dangerous overtaking of a cyclist is deliberately wide and includes not just overtaking a cyclist, but also attempting to overtake, and it includes not just to endanger, but also to inconvenience a cyclist. The offence comes with 3 penalty points and a fixed charge fine of €120.
The cyclist who reported the incident to Coolock Garda Station was told by a Garda officer that it was an “intercept offence”, which was claimed to mean that officers would have had to witness it happening.
In an email seen by IrishCycle.com, the Garda involved in the case claimed: “This is a Fixed Charge Processing Notice in which a member of an Garda Síochána must intercept the vehicle involved in the overtaking to issue the FCPN.”
This, however, is not in line with the law.
It is also not in line with the experience of most cyclists reporting close passes to Garda. That includes the cyclist in this case, who has been told by Gardai that another motorist received points and a fine for another close pass he reported to a different officer at the same station.
He said: “I reported this incident a few hours after it happened , with the hope that the driver would be held accountable for their reckless driving. I gave the Gardai the video evidence, offered to give a statement and expressed my willingness to go to court if I needed to. Just over a week later, The investigating officer told me he could not issue a fine because he didn’t witness it himself. Believing that there was such a requirement.”
“I have tried to get this resolved within the Garda Station, District office and Garda corporate services, with no luck,” he said. “It shouldn’t be this hard for a fine to be issued when there is clear evidence provided.“
Detailing his efforts to get Gardai act, he said: “I tried asking the Superintendent through the District office, with no luck. I tried scheduling a meeting, in person or virtual, no luck again. I decided to call the garda headquarters and ask to be directed to someone who could deal with it and was referred to corporate services. I talked to corporate services and sent them an email, with the details. It ended up being sent to the Coolock district office for them to deal with. I only got contacted by the same investigating officer repeating the same intercept claim.”
He continued: “I spoke with an Inspector there to try and resolve it. They said there was some confusion among Gardai on whether they needed to witness the incident themselves or they could investigate it based on a complaint. He said he’d seek clarity from the Fixed Charge Processing office and let me know in a week or so. The email to the Fixed Charge Processing office was sent on the 16th of December. It’s been more than a month and a half and I still don’t know what answer he got. “
He sought clarity from the Garda Roads Policing and, in the last few days a fine could be issued, they clarified that it is not a requirement for officers to witness the incident.
The cyclist told IrishCycle.com that, in a separate case reported to Clontarf Gardai Station he was also given what he views as an excuse of an ‘intercept offence’. Although instead of claiming that Gardai needed to witness the incident, officers said they couldn’t issue a fine because they could not find the registered owner to ask them who was driving and they needed to know who the driver was and couldn’t fine the owner.
The time frame for issuing a fixed penalty notice has now lapsed in both cases. However, it is understood while the timeframe for issuing an out-of-court fine has lapsed, Gardai could still bring the cases to Court.
Back in November of last year, IrishCycle.com asked Gardai for comment on the case, including if Garda management accept that Gardai witnessing an event is not required under the provisions of the dangerous overtaking of cyclists offence .
A spokesperson at the Garda Press Office, said: “An Garda Síochána can confirm that this matter was recorded on the Garda Pulse system at the time it was reported. As the alleged incident is subject to an ongoing investigation An Garda Síochána cannot make any further comment at this time.”
After a follow up request for comment last month, another spokesperson at the Garda Press Office said: “I refer to your query and am to advise you that The Garda Press Office does not provide clarity on legislation. You would be bested place to seek legal advice on the matter. As previously stated As the alleged incident is subject to an ongoing investigation An Garda Síochána cannot make any further comment at this time.”
When it was clarified at the time that IrishCycle.com was not seeking legal advice, no direct reply was received from the Garda Press Office.
On the overall issue, a spokesperson at the Garda Press Office today said: “As previously stated by this office this incident remains under investigation. An Garda Síochána cannot make any further comment at this time.”