Saturday 7 December 2019

Bray Wheelers say road 'big enough for all to use'

Mary Fogarty

It is now an offence to dangerously overtake a pedal cyclists, according to new legislation introduced at midnight on Tuesday, November 12.

The new laws include three penalty points and an increased fixed charge penalty of €120.

Chairman of Bray Wheelers, recently crowned Cycling Ireland Club of the Year, said that he would very much like to see cyclists and motorists alike be able to share the road. 'As a cyclist and supporter of cyclists, we do often bear the brunt of a lot of ill feeling from a lot of motorists,' he said.

'There are rogue cyclists and law abiding cyclists. All of our members are coached and trained at group riding. We obey the rules of the road, and that is impressed on all of our members.'

He said also that most motorists are law abiding, and will not be troubled by the new legislation. 'It's beneficial legislation from a safety point of view obviously and I don't think it can do any harm. It's good to see legislation that encourages respect for cyclists, who are the most vulnerable road users.'

He would have concerns about enforcement of the legislation, and in equal measure enforcement of, say, a cyclist breaking a red light, an offence which isn't often prosecuted.

'The roads are big of us all to share,' he said. Mark said that motorists can perhaps get stressed due to heavy traffic volumes and vent their anger maybe towards cyclists. I don't commute on the bike, I ride the bike for pleasure, training and competition, so I would avoid the N11 and use the back roads.'

He added that Bray Wheelers groups will always go single file where possible to let cars through.

The gardai, the Department for Transport, Tourism and Sport, the Road Safety Authority, and the Office of the Attorney General said in a joint statement that they have worked closely together to develop a robust legal mechanism to target drivers who put cyclists at risk in this manner.

'Cyclists are one of the most vulnerable road user groups and tragically this year there have been 9 cyclists killed on our roads, compared with 8 at this point last year,' said Chief Superintendent Paul Cleary. 'An Garda Síochána therefore welcomes these new measures which increases the penalty for drivers that put cyclists at risk and also the suite of educational measures to change driver behaviour. Drivers must give cyclists room to cycle safely, especially when overtaking.'

'This law will target and punish drivers who are guilty of this deadly, dangerous behaviour,' said Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Shane Ross.

'Equally important is the impact I hope it will have on driver behaviour. It will provide a heightened awareness of the importance of sharing road space in a respectful and safe manner. Too many cyclists have frankly terrifying tales to tell of intimidatingly close passes and near misses. And we are all sadly aware of the worrying umbers of cyclists being killed and injured on our roads, despite a downward trend in road fatalities more generally.'

Moyagh Murdock, chief executive of the Road Safety Authority, said that drivers should always allow safe passing distances for cyclists and should adjust their behaviour to suit the road environment. 'This includes slowing down and ensuring you pass cyclists when it is safe to do so, and critically, giving them the space to ride safe. Drivers need to remember that in the event of a collision, a cyclist will always come off worse. The introduction of this new law with tough penalties for drivers who flout it, is very timely given that we have tragically lost nine cyclists in fatal crashes to date in 2019.' New signage will accompany the new law, warning drivers to allow adequate space when overtaking cyclists.

The signage includes providing for a one metre distance overtaking space (in locations with speed limits less than 50km/h) and 1.5 metre distance (where speed limit exceeds 50 km/h). The Road Safety Authority (RSA) will underpin the introduction of the new law changes through a radio, digital and outdoor advertising campaign. In addition it will continue to run its TV led campaign which advises drivers to slow down and provide for at least 1.5 metres space between cyclists and drivers.

Bray People