Cyclists face on-the-spot fines by next year
Breaking red lights, cycling on footpaths and failing to yield will cost €50
A garda watches a cyclist on a Dublin street. Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar has insisted the move is not about targeting cyclists but ensuring road safety. Photograph: Kate Geraghty
On-the-spot fines for traffic violations will be extended to include cyclists from 2014, according to the Department of Transport.
The list of offences to which the fines will apply has not yet been finalised, however, they are likely to include breaking a red light, cycling on a footpath and failing to yield right of way at a “yield” sign.
The fines, which are referred to as fixed charge notices, are also likely to be €50 or higher and will give cyclists the option of paying a fixed-charge penalty within 56 days instead of having the matter dealt with by the courts.
Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar insisted the move was not about targeting cyclists but ensuring road safety for everyone.
“The public roads belong to all of us, vehicles, heavy goods vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians, and we all need to be respectful of each other,” he said. “There are cyclists who are breaking the rules of the road and they should be held to account in the same way that everyone else is”.
A cyclist himself, Mr Varadkar said he found it particularly annoying to see motorists parking in cycle lanes. He said he would be asking gardaí to clamp down on this behaviour as it was “an enormous problem”.
The Minister also added that there were no plans for a cyclist road tax.
Mike McKillen from the cyclist.ie, an Irish cycling lobby, believes that fining cyclists who choose to use the footpath may improve pedestrian safety. However, he was sceptical as to whether they will improve overall road safety and how they would be enforced.
He said: “We just don’t do road traffic law or enforcement properly in this county,” he said. “Cyclists are appalled every day at how close drivers overtake cyclists. . . they’re terrified of over-close and over-fast drivers”.
Mr McKillen also said that fining cyclists for breaking red lights could create disruption at traffic junctions. “Cyclist will all mass at the bike box [at the top of the junction] and when the lights go green drivers will be impeded by the herd there,” he said. “By breaking red lights at junctions it frees up that space.”
Labour TD Kevin Humphreys welcomed the fines and added that he would be seeking similar deterrents for cyclists who do not have working lights.
“This is a policy change I have long advocated for and believe it is a crucial part of fostering and encouraging cycling in Ireland,” he said.
But Sinn Féin TD Peadar Tóibín, said if the Government wanted to achieve road safety for users they should provide better cycling lanes first.
The Road Safety Authority reported in 2011 that cyclists made up approximately 5 per cent of all fatalities. During this period nine were killed.