Dublin councillor calls for registration and insurance for cyclists

A Dublin City councillor who has previously strongly denied being anti-cycling has used one of the most common anti-cycling tropes — calling for the mandatory registration and insurance of cyclists, or at least adult ones.

The registration of cyclists is only required in the dictatorship of North Korea. Other countries have examined such proposals but deemed that the costs of administration and enforcement would not be justified by the benefits. A small number of countries have also have mandatory registration with the main aim of it being an anti-theft measure.

Mandatory insurance and licensing are required for driving because of the massive level of deaths and the high level of damage to people and property caused by drivers of cars, vans and trucks. The level of danger from bicycles has more in common with the level of danger pedestrians pose to cyclists, including in rare cases resulting in the death of a cyclist.

Cllr Damian O’Farrell (independent) called for cyclists to be registered and insured when asked about the idea of compulsory third-party insurance for cyclists on Today with Claire Byrne on RTÉ Radio 1.

The radio show item was prompted by comments from transport Minister Eamon Ryan, at a public meeting about the Dodder Greenway. Minister Ryan said: “I think it’s also very much incumbent on the cycling community to create a culture and an attitude, which is … and that would be enforced, that there is gardaí and proper enforcement.”

Minister Ryan’s suggestion that cyclists are jointly responsible for the actions of other people who cycle was reported by the Irish Independent and then covered by others including the UK cycling website Road.cc.

The Today with Claire Byrne show on Monday covered various issues relating to cyclists including Lycra to children who a texter said were the main people cycling on footpaths.

He has previously asked the city’s transport committee to back the Road Safety Authority’s push to get pedestrians and cyclists to wear high-vis even on city streets.

This week, Cllr O’Farrell said: “I think it could possibly, we need to do something. There needs to be some sort of registration. Maybe not for children but for older adults, some kind of registration for bikes and within that registration there could possibly be an insurance payment that would be a general public insurance, you won’t have to get it individually, but when you register your bike you play a small fee.’

“Because they [pedestrians], I know family members, they really have life-changing injuries. The cyclist would be aware of the accident, maybe an ambulance would be called. But then the cyclist is gone and the person [who was injured] is going to outpatient appointments for the next two years and the cyclist probably isn’t even aware of it,” he said.

He added: “It would help the Gardaí for the fixed penalty notices, I do think some type of registration for cyclists going forward.”

The other guest on the Claire Byrne show was Martina Callanan, deputy chairperson of the Galway Cycling Campaign. She said that it was wrong that some people on bikes were acting carelessly, and better design, education, enforcement, and consideration are needed.

Callanan also said that shared spaces are disliked by people cycling too.

Asked about people on bicycles running red lights, she said: “Yes, people cycling break traffic lights, as do people driving, people walking. I think the focus here is that we all want to be enjoying public space, and coming back to that idea of biases, people on bikes are on outgroup and when we see members of an outgroup behaving badly, we tend to generalise it to all members of that group.”

“Going back to education as Damian has raised it a number of times… the CycleRight training in primary schools — it’s very limited and it’s basically limited to one year for children rather than multi-years like in the Netherlands. It really should be part of the primary school curriculum… and I think introducing cycling to the driver theory test would also be helpful,” she said.

Callanan said some cyclists needed to take care more around pedestrians especially in shares spaces, including using a bell.

She said: “We need a better reallocation of public space from motor vehicles to more space to walking and cycling. At the moment I’m six months pregnant, I’m about to enter my buggy years, I’m very conscious of footpaths, I’ve an uncle who’s a wheelchair user.”

She said that minimum standards are usually applied to footpaths.


  1. … as it currently stands, anyone who holds a Cycling Ireland Licence already is a registered cyclist and holds Third Party Insurance.

  2. Martina did well with the usual bike user tropes from that bingo-card. However not all bikes are supplied or fitted with a bell (road bikes used for racing are exempt, in law).
    “Callanan said some cyclists needed to take care more around pedestrians especially in shares spaces, including using a bell.”
    Then there are teeny bells and hells bells! The law does not set any standard for audibility and the hard of hearing won’t hear many of them, in any event.
    A bicycle cannot be fitted with an air-horn to give audible warning of approach.

    • You neglected to mention the amount of people who walk with earphones in, that just don’t hear the little ting ting bells. All the more reason as to avoid having shared surfaces.
      I really don’t get why bikes, especially ebikes, can’t have an air-horn of some form as part of construction. Sadly, the most common reason for me to want to warn is not about walkers, but motorists looking to cut me off at junctions, blocking bike lanes by queuing for turns etc. How is it that motorists can have air horns and beep people walking or cycling, yet people on bikes can’t?

  3. As a cyclist and car user, I see wanton disregard for the basic road rules by large numbers of cyclists in both urban and suburban areas, e.g. Mature commuters weaving through pedestrians (including children) at crossings having broken the red light to do so. It is large-scale and should not be compared to that of car users. It happens on a whole different scale amongst cyclists.
    It is not an issue of enforcement. It is about collective and individual responsibility. We lead by example.

    • Hi Seán, Thanks for your comments, but your claim that “It happens on a whole different scale amongst cyclists” is just not true relative to the lawlessness of motorists as a group. Motorists, as a group, habitually break the law and injure and kill people on foot and on bicycles.
      Motorists habitually break laws such as the speed limit, driving on footpaths, parking on footpaths, red lights, holding their phones, close passing, and a significant majority engine in drunk and drug driving. This article provides a more detailed outline of some of the main offences motorists habitually break: https://irishcycle.com/2022/11/26/do-cyclists-habitually-break-the-law-more-than-motorists.

      As for collective responsibility, I cannot wait to see that kicking in generally — I’m saying that as somebody who is mainly a pedestrian most days and in the context of the last two months being the highest number or road deaths for the start of the year for the last decade.

      Some cyclists really need to behave, and I disagree entirely with you that it’s not an enforcement issue. If somebody is endangering others to the point that people like you think cyclists are more out of control than motorists, it is an enforcement issue regardless of whether they are on a bike, on foot, or in a car.


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