While only a short time since the Minister for Transport, Paschal Donohoe, decided to exclude cyclists from Fixed Charge Notices and allowed them to use footpaths, pedestrians and observers will have noticed a marked increase in cyclists availing of this dispensation throughout the country.
A recent survey in the Wilton Area of Cork city has shown a twofold increase since the minister told his colleague Jerry Buttimer TD that iIt is appropriate and necessary for cyclists to use footpaths where there is danger on the roads’ As expected and predicted, cyclists can now use footpaths with impunity as well as immunity from prosecution, as they can rightly claim that virtually all urban roads are dangerous due to uncontrolled speeding, lack of proper cycle ways, giant potholes, poor road design and a general lack of coherent traffic management.
The minister in the process has substantially increased the danger for all pedestrians, both young and old, many who have been subjected to intimidation, abuse and injury even before his ill advised intervention.
Mr Donohoe has done u-turn on this issue and his edict contravenes the Rules of the Road which states unambiguously on page 195 ‘Never cycle on a footpath’ and ‘Don’t cycle on a footpath’ under the cycling safety section.
Significantly, it also contradicts the Road Traffic Acts 1963 which states ‘Footpaths are for pedestrians’ Most significant of all, the minister’s decision is totally at variance with the unequivocal advice from Ms Moyadh Murdoch, the Chief Executive Officer of the Road Safety Authority in a recent letter where she states, ’ Insofar as I’m concerned, cyclists are not permitted to cycle on footpaths anywhere in Ireland. It is a breach of the relevant legislation as reflected in the Rules of the Road’.
Ms Murdoch’s statement is a beacon of clarity in contrast with the minister’s confused, befuddled and unworkable rhetoric. Mr Donohoe’s and his advisors’ credibility must be seriously questioned.
Before the problem becomes a avalanche, as it certainly will, the minister should admit his mistake and remove the danger, the uncertainty and the ambiguity.
Common sense alone should dictate that he should revert to his original position where’ footpaths are strictly for pedestrians only’ and thus protect the thousands of pedestrians who now are forced to take to the footpath in fear and trepidation as a result of his meddling.