MORE than five cyclists are being summonsed to court every week after being caught breaking red lights and cycling on footpaths.
A crackdown by gardai on dangerous cycling in Dublin and across the country has resulted in more people being taken to court so far this year than for all of 2012.
The move comes in advance of on-the-spot fines being introduced for dangerous cycling next year.
Currently, gardai can issue a summons for people to appear in court – although they do have discretion to give a warning.
Official figures show that 248 prosecutions have been commenced up to last Thursday. This compares with 240 for all of 2012.
The figures come just days after an 18-year-old student was prosecuted for drunk-cycling in Ennis District Court under a new offence contained in the 2010 Road Traffic Act.
Ghanaian national Sylvanus Akpaku pleaded guilty to the charge, which was struck out after the court heard he was not wearing reflective gear and when stopped by gardai was slurring his words and there was a smell of alcohol from him.
There are a range of offences for which cyclists can be taken to court. They include a ban on cycling more than two abreast, unless overtaking; overtaking in a single lane, a requirement to stop at red lights, a ban on cycling on footpaths and the offence of careless or dangerous riding, and riding a pedal cycle without reasonable consideration.
A fine of up to €1,000 can be imposed for a first offence, rising to €2,500 and/or three months' imprisonment for a third offence.
The figures, released to the Irish Independent, come after five cyclists lost their lives on the roads so far this year.
* Some 170 cyclists have been summonsed to court for breaking traffic lights. This compares with 163 last year.
* Another 15 are due to appear in court for cycling along a footway, compared with 12 last year.
* Another 39 have been caught careless riding, compared with 24; five are accused of dangerous riding (13 in 2012) and 19 for riding without reasonable consideration (28).
* Some 444 were taken to court in 2011 for breaking traffic lights, the highest number since 2010.
An operation targeting cyclists was mounted last July, the same month that Transport Minister Leo Varadkar announced plans to introduce new regulations allowing gardai to impose fines of €50 against cyclists who break road safety laws.
The measure will allow fines to be imposed for breaking a red light, cycling on a footpath and overtaking in a dangerous situation. The fine must be paid within 56 days, or the cyclist will be ordered to appear in court.