Cyclists demand more resources

Cyclists yesterday gathered in force and demanded more resources to be ringfenced to build cycling routes, to promote cycling, and to aid the environment by keeping traffic off the roads.

Ciaran Cannon.
Ciaran Cannon.

A protest outside the Dáil came as TDs launched a private member’s bill to force motorists to observe a minimum passing distance when overtaking cyclists.

Fine Gael TD Ciaran Cannon launched the proposed legislation in the Dáil as he noted the increase in cyclist numbers in recent years.

“Approximately 12,000 commuters cycle into Dublin city centre every day,” he said, adding that Cycling Ireland had calculated that around 250,000 cyclists regularly use roads in Ireland.

“Sadly, these cyclists are particularly vulnerable. Twenty cyclists have been killed on our roads over the past 24 months. This bill seeks to create a minimum passing distance which motorists must observe when overtaking cyclists.

“I propose to set this distance at 1m in areas where the speed limit does not exceed 50 km/h and at 1.5 m in all other areas. We are setting out to create a safe space on our roads where cyclists can feel protected from passing traffic,” said Mr Cannon, as he outlined the proposed measures.

He said he had been working with Meath East TD Regina Doherty on co-ordinating the proposals, which he suggests could be policed by cameras or road lines.

“Ireland needs to learn from the positive experiences of other countries said Mr Cannon. “To date, laws of this nature have been passed in France, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, 28 states in the US, two provinces in Canada, and five states and territories in Australia.”

The measures would particularly protect children travelling to school or families going for a weekend cycle, it was added.

Outside Leinster House, crowds of cyclists gathered to hear calls for 10% of the transport budget to be ringfenced for cycling. This money could go towards promoting cycling, improving cycle lanes, and measures to encourage people to leave their cars at home, protesting cyclists suggested.

Such measures and the improvement overall of cycling facilities nationwide would promote good health and help reduce weight problems or obesity, it was added.

Campaigners argue that improvements for cyclists will help take cars off the roads and therefore reduce carbon emissions.

Michael McKillen of the Irish Cycling Advocacy Network said: “This measure is to prevent cyclist fatalities/serious injuries caused by too close and fast overtaking. Ten cyclists died last year. These deaths are avoidable.”

A spokeswoman for Transport Minister Shane Ross yesterday said: “The minister is encouraging his department to examine the feasibility of this bill.”.

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