New laws protecting cyclists will come into effect at midnight tonight.

The Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross TD, today announced that new laws protecting cyclists will come into effect at midnight tonight.

The Minister said that the new legislation will make it an offence to dangerously overtake a pedal cyclist. Building on existing legislation, it provides for an increased fixed charge of €120 and three penalty points for offenders.

The Minister said: “The law that we are commencing at midnight will target and punish drivers who are guilty of such deadly, dangerous behavior. Equally important is the impact I hope it will have on driver behavior, providing 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 numbers of cyclists being killed and injured on our roads, despite a downward trend in road fatalities more generally.”

The Minister said that his Department, the Road Safety Authority, An Garda Síochána and the Office of the Attorney General have worked closely together to develop a robust, legal mechanism to target drivers who put cyclists at risk in this manner.

The Road Traffic (Traffic and Parking) (Amendment) Regulations 2019 builds on the existing legislation with regard to dangerous overtaking. These regulations divide the offence of dangerous overtaking to make it a separate offence to dangerously overtake a pedal cyclist. This separate offence will carry an increased fixed charge of €120 and penalty points and will particularly target those drivers who put cyclists at risk.

Speaking on the introduction of the new law, Moyagh Murdock, Chief Executive, Road Safety Authority (RSA) said, “Drivers should always allow safe passing distances for cyclists and should always adjust their behaviour to suit the road environment. This includes slowing down and ensuring you pass cyclists when it’s 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 9 cyclists in fatal crashes to fate in 2019.”

The introduction of the new law will be highlighted by the rollout of new signage warning motorists to provide for adequate overtaking space for 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 allow at least one metre overtaking distance when passing cyclists in speed zones up to 50km/hour and at least 1.5 metres when passing at speeds above 50km/hour.

The Minister also announced that a Public Appointments Service competition will shortly be commenced to appoint four people to the Board of Transport Infrastructure Ireland. The Minister intends reserving one of the posts to an individual with cycling expertise.

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