Gardaí criticised for tweet mixing choice of clothing and legal requirement of lights

An Garda Síochána has been criticised for a tweet which mixed up lights — which are a legal requirement — and the shade of clothing, which isn’t.

Several replies and quote tweets, including from a TD and from cycling campaigners highlighted that the wording is confusing. Others referred to examples of people within the replies who have misunderstood what the Gardaí had tweeted.

There is a legal requirement in Ireland to have a front white or yellow light and a red rear light attached to a bicycle in public during the lighting up hours, which starts a half an hour after sunset and ends a half an hour before sunrise. The fine for not using lights within that timeframe is €40 using the Fixed Charge Penalty Notices (FCPN) or possibly more in Court.

There is no legal requirement to wear any particular clothing or to wear high-vis. Last March, as reported at the time, the Garda communications team tweeted “Oops, we got that wrong,” after it had wrongly claimed that high-vis is mandatory for people walking and cycling.

The use of high-visibility has been heavily promoted by the Road Safety Authority (RSA) and other authorities. But even the RSA has fallen short of calling for it to be mandatory.

When a former Fianna Fail transport spokesman, Robert Troy, asked at the Oireachtas Committee on Transport about making high-visibility clothing mandatory for pedestrians to wear, and the then transport minister Shane Ross agreed with the idea, it was left to former RSA CEO Moyagh Murdock to remind politicians that we do not live in a “police state”.

Today, the official An Garda Síochána account, @GardaTraffic, said: “While on patrol, Naas Roads Policing observed this pedal cyclist in dark clothing with no front or rear lights. FCPN issued. Remember, if you are cycling on public roads during ‘lighting-up time’, you must have lights on your bike.”

Galway TD and former Minister, Ciaran Cannon said: “Disappointing to see @GardaTraffic make reference to clothing here. There is no legal requirement to wear any particular kind of clothing when cycling. Making reference to clothing creates confusion about the law and leads to victimisation of cyclists, often in court.”

Phil Skelton, founder of the Stayin’ Alive at 1.5 campaign tweeted: “Just so that we are clear here, the FCPN was issued for not using lights during lighting up hours – and not for the colour of the clothing?”

He said: “No issue with the FCPN being issued here but let’s not cause further confusion. Will you issue a clarification post @GardaTraffic?”

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