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Minister admits 'difficulties' in bringing in law for minimum passing distance when overtaking cyclists

A new law to require drivers to allow one metre when passing cyclists on roads was announced in February.

Image: Shutterstock/Dan Race

THERE ARE LEGAL difficulties in introducing a minimum passing distance law for overtaking cyclists, according to Minister for Transport Shane Ross.

In February, the minister said new measures  for the minimum passing distance for cyclists would soon be introduced.

At the time, he said the new 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.

Ross said the new measures were needed as he had become increasingly concerned about the rise in cyclists fatalities on Irish roads.

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

However, some six months later, no such measures have been introduced.

Speaking today, Ross said he had encountered difficulties in the Attorney General’s office over introducing such a law here, adding that he is now looking at other ways of doing it.

Today, Fianna Fáil said it plans to introduce its own legislation for a minimum passing distance to the Dáil in September.

The party transport spokesperson, Robert Troy, said he did not believe the new legislation would be “unworkable” adding that 26 States in the US, as well as Australia, France, Belgium and Portugal have introduced such a law.

“It is not unenforceable,” he said, adding that he does not think Minister Ross as “the will” to implement the legislation, despite his Cabinet colleague, Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty, championing the legislation.

“Excuse me if I don’t take Minster Ross’ advice,” said Troy today, highlighting that the minister tried to block efforts by Minister Doherty and Fine Gael’s Ciaran Cannon to introduce cycling legislation earlier this year.

In a bid to protect cyclists on Irish roads, Cannon and Doherty published a Bill to force motorists to obey a minimum passing distance when overtaking cyclists.

It proposed that drivers who do not comply with the new rules would face an €80 fine and three penalty points. In the end, the minister conceded to introduce his own government measures, which have now been held up.

Fianna Fáil said it plans to advance its own legislation on the issue in the autumn.

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