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New pilot project will see cameras installed to detect drivers parked or driving in bus and cycle lanes

A number of areas in Dublin will be chosen to trial the new equipment.

Image: Shutterstock/richardjohnson

DUBLIN CITY COUNCIL is set to pilot a new initiative which will see cameras installed on some bus and cycle lanes to automatically detect vehicles that have been illegally parked or are being driven through them.

In the first three-quarters of this year, some 3,072 drivers were fined for driving in a bus lane in the Dublin Metropolitan Area alone, and more than 10,000 drivers have faced fines since 2017 in the same area. 

An Garda Síochana is responsible for policing the unlawful entry of vehicles in bus lanes under the Road Traffic Act. Gardaí currently rely on drivers being reported for driving in bus lanes or being spotted by passing patrols. 

Cameras are currently used to detect drivers who are breaking the speed limit and used as evidence to prosecute drivers.

The same approach, however, has not been taken to improve policing of bus and cycle lanes, something the Smart Cities programme within Dublin City Council is hoping to change. 

A pilot programme set to be introduced in the first half of 2020 will see selected routes installed with cameras which automatically capture a vehicle’s registration in order to issue a fine. If successful, it could be used as a model for Government to roll it out nationwide. 

Jamie Cudden, head of the Smart Cities programme, said the details of the project are currently being teased out but it is hoped to be up and running in the coming months. 

“It’s one of the projects I really want to get going. It’s automatic number plate recognition to make bus lanes and cycles lanes work and solve the problems we have with them,” he told TheJournal.ie.

“The technology is there and I see it deployed in cities around the world and I’m thinking why aren’t we doing that here. There’s no reason why we’re not doing it here.

“It comes down to people thinking that technology is really expensive but I think we’re at a point where we need to really revisit all our perceptions in terms of the cost of technology.”

Cudden explained the technology would use cameras fixed to street posts and catch the registration of vehicles. However, questions around who processes this information and where the information is then actioned in terms of fines would need to be negotiated. 

This would involve a collaboration between a number of bodies including the Department of Transport, local authorities and the Roads Policing Unit of An Garda Síochana. 

“We need a joined-up process. If you’re spending money putting these cameras in and they take the number plates, well then you need to process that. You need to figure out where that fine goes, who manages that fine, where does the money go when it is paid, and who pays to look after the infrastructure.

“If you think about it, it’s garda traffic who manage enforcement of that, it’s not city council management that enforce that. So it comes down to the question who pays for the technology.

“The benefit is for everyone but sometimes that’s not the conversation that happens because everyone works in silos.”

Legislation

There has been little action at Government-level to progress this type of technology, which could improve the efficiency and safety of bus and cycle lanes for members of the public. 

A spokesperson for the Department of Transport said it would be a decision for An Garda Síochana to introduce this type of measure. 

The Road Traffic (Bus and Cycle Lane) Amendment Bill 2019 was tabled in February to fast-track a debate on the issue but has since not been raised in the Dáil. 

The bill was put forward by Fianna Fail’s business spokesperson Robert Troy, with the support of the party’s Dublin spokesperson John Lahart. 

“The cameras in bus lanes would be just one of the things we could look at. Places like Belfast have Smart Cars to randomly patrol bus lanes and fixed penalties are applied. 

“You start doing these things at a small level, in segregated areas and grow from there.

“This is a reflection on the minister. He could take immediate action on this and it would be one of those things that causes behavioral change,” he added. 

Asked if the Transport Minister would encourage more programmes similar to that of Dublin City Council, a spokesperson said: “This equipment is installed at the request of An Garda Síochana to the relevant local authority, as well as overall enforcement of the matter. The Department is responsible for the legislative aspect.”

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