Sunday 3 May 2015

Fixed penalties on way to curb unruly cyclists

Published 06/01/2013 | 05:00

Dublin's unruly cyclists, who have been described by pedestrians as often resembling "winged rats", face fixed penalties in the wake of an intervention by Transport Minister Leo Varadkar.

The behaviour of some of the city's cyclists has become an increasing source of concern to the gardai who have been inundated with complaints from policing committees and citizens.

Attempts to impose discipline on cyclists via fixed penalties, such as those applied to motorists, have been hampered by the fact that unlike cars, bicycles do not have to be registered.

However, following discussions with gardai, who have reported an increased success rate in prosecuting cyclists in court, the Department of Transport is now considering extending the fixed-charge system to all cycling offences.

This would give cyclists the option of paying a fixed-charge penalty within 56 days instead of having the matter dealt with by the courts.

A department spokesperson noted that it was hoped "the changes would enhance the safety both of cyclists and pedestrians''.

The return of gardai checking cyclists for lights, of cycling on the correct side of the road and of cyclists walking in pedestrian areas was welcomed by the Labour TD Kevin Humphreys.

"Extending on-the-spot fines or 'fixed-charge penalties' to cyclists who break the rules of the road is a policy change I have long advocated,'' he said. "Measures to encourage more people to take up cycling. . . must be balanced by strong and enforceable rules.''

He said that recently "the behaviour of cyclists has been an ongoing issue with local policing committees'.

"I have raised this issue numerous times with Minister Varadkar and I welcome his openness to consider a change in the law," he said.

"The success of Dublinbikes, the Cycle to Work scheme, and the many improved cycle paths shows that there is a public demand, but all road users must be subject to regulation.''

Mr Humphreys added that some "cyclists obey and honour the rules of the road but there must be penalties for those who consistently cycle on footpaths and break red lights, putting pedestrians, particularly the elderly, in danger".

Sunday Independent

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