The Department of Transport, Tourism & Sport has confirmed that fixed charge notices will be extended to include cyclists from 2014, in line with the current Road Safety Strategy.
This measure is being brought in to promote safe cycling practices, discourage dangerous cycling, and as part of a broader strategy to encourage more people to cycle on a more regular basis. Cycling has many benefits including reduced congestion on the roads, benefits to health and fitness, and is a much more sustainable form of travel than the motor car.
Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport Leo Varadkar said: ‘This is not about targeting cyclists. It’s about ensuring that our roads are safe for all of us. Roads are a shared public space and belong to everyone: drivers, cyclists, pedestrian and heavy vehicles. We all have to use them responsibly and obey the rules that protect us all’.
Gardaí have informed the Department of an increased success rate in prosecuting cyclists in court. Following discussions with Gardaí, the Department has decided to extend the fixed-charge system to 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.
Fixed charge notices for cyclists are included in the Road Safety Strategy 2013-2020 and do not require primary legislation. Action 92 of the Road Safety Strategy states that: “Legislate for the extension of fixed charge notices to other offences including those related to cyclists and drivers’ hours.”
The Department has already held preliminary discussions with Gardaí and the RSA on this issue, and will now hold further discussions to determine which penalties will have fixed charge notices applied to them. The final list of offences has not yet been determined, but these are likely to include:
• Going through a red light;
• Cycling on a footpath;
• Failure to yield right of way at a ‘Yield’ sign.
No decision has been taken on the fines but they are likely to be €50 or higher – lower than equivalent motoring fines, but sufficiently high to act as a deterrent. The measure will free up Gardaí for other policing duties and free up court time.
The target for the introduction of fixed charge notices, as set out in the Road Safety Strategy, is the second quarter of 2014. However, they will be introduced at an earlier stage if possible, in conjunction with An Garda Síochána.
Gardaí already have a range of powers to enforce safe cycling practices under existing legislation, including the power – in extreme cases – to impound bicycles under Section 108 of the Road Traffic Act 1961 as amended by Section 80 of the Road Traffic Act 2010.
Unlike mechanically propelled vehicles, bicycles are not required to be registered, and an alternative approach is required when prosecuting offenders in the interests of road safety. Cyclists who commit an offence under the Road Traffic Acts are therefore currently dealt with by the courts system.