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Dublin: 7 °C Tuesday 19 March, 2019
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Drivers will soon have to observe a minimum passing distance when overtaking cyclists

The new law will require drivers to allow one metre when passing cyclists on roads with a speed limit under 50 km/h.

Image: Sam Boal

NEW LEGISLATION REQUIRING drivers to allow a minimum passing distance for cyclists will soon be introduced.

Confirming the new measures today, Minister for Transport Shane Ross said the new rules will save lives.

The law will require drivers to allow one metre when passing cyclists on roads with a speed limit under 50 km/h and 1.5 metre on roads with a limit of 50km/h or above.

Speaking today, Ross said he has been extremely concerned about the rise in cyclists fatalities on Irish roads.

In 2017, there were 15 cyclists killed, which was a 50% increase on 2016.

Road deaths

“Clearly this is an intolerable situation which has to change. Every life lost on our roads is a tragedy and as Minister for Transport, I am committed to do everything within my power to prevent preventable road deaths,” he said.

Cyclists have claimed the new law is much-needed, however, there were concerns about the perceived difficulties in enforcing it. A petition with 6,500 signatures calling for a change in the law was handed in to the minister last week.

The minister said research was undertaken into other jurisdictions that apply a minimum passing distance to see if such legislation would benefit Irish cyclists.

A new report by the Road Safety Authority, published today, states that little conclusive evidence is currently available to support or rebut claims that minimum passing distance legislation will specifically address cyclist fatalities.

However, it states that greater awareness by both motorists and cyclists while overtaking was recognised as having safety benefits.

Can’t see the video, click here.

Saving lives

“If such awareness entails safer driving and fewer fatalities then it will be worth introducing the necessary legislation. If such awareness entails safer driving and fewer fatalities then it will be worth introducing the necessary legislation,” said Ross.

As a legislator. he said “it is not enough for me to say we simply just have an education campaign, my job is to introduce law and to make law”.

It is going to be done in the correct way by secondary legislation, we are going to go the extra mile in the pursuit of saving lives.

He said the new regulations will tie in with the government’s plan to encourage more cyclists onto the roads.

‘More cyclists, less cars’

“We need more cyclists, we need less cars… If we make the roads a safer place there are likely to be more people getting out of their cars,” said the minister.

He acknowledged that some critics believe research in this area is in it infancy. In light of this, the minister said the legislation will be reviewed after 12 months.

The regulations will be introduced once the legislation is finalised and approval by the Office of the Attorney General, and once the required equipment for measuring the minimum passing distance has been procured by the gardaí.

Until then, the Road Safety Authority will be launching an awareness campaign in the coming days.

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