Ross and gar­daí fail to an­swer ques­tions about en­force­ment

The Irish Mail on Sunday - - ATTACK ON SYRIA - By Craig Hughes

CON­FU­SION sur­rounds pro­posed pro­cy­cling min­i­mum pass­ing dis­tance laws and how they will be en­forced, with the min­is­ter re­spon­si­ble and gar­daí un­able to an­swer ba­sic ques­tions on the is­sue.

Cam­paign­ers have raised the prospect that mem­bers of the public and gar­daí on bi­cy­cles will mount de­vices on their ve­hi­cles to cap­ture mis­be­hav­ing mo­torists – but gar­daí have failed to re­spond to queries about the new rules.

The law would re­quire mo­torists to give 1.5m of space to cy­clists when they are over­tak­ing above 50kph, and 1m when over­tak­ing at speeds less than 50kph.

A spokes­woman for Trans­port Min­is­ter Shane Ross ad­mit­ted the ques­tion as to who would be in the wrong in the pic­ture above at Doyle’s Cor­ner in Phib­s­boro in Dublin, where a cy­clist is be­tween two lanes, is be­ing dealt with by Dáil drafters and was one she couldn’t an­swer.

Fianna Fáil trans­port spokesman Robert Troy, who in­tro­duced sim­i­lar leg­is­la­tion, was also un­able to an­swer ques­tions in re­la­tion to en­force­ment, in par­tic­u­lar if a cy­clist comes be­tween a line of traf­fic. In­stead, he said the min­is­ter should look at how it is en­forced in other ju­ris­dic­tions.

In Jan­uary, Min­is­ter Ross had doubts about how a min­i­mum pass­ing dis­tance law would be en­forced. ‘We are look­ing at it, it has dif­fi­cul­ties. It was tried in Aus­tralia and else­where,’ he told the Ir­ish Times. ‘The prob­lem is proof, the prob­lem is en­force­ment. I do not want to in­tro­duce a mea­sure that is ba­si­cally un­en­force­able. How do you prove some­one is 1.5m away? That is very hard to prove.’

How­ever, the min­is­ter has since backed the law. When asked about how it would be en­forced, par­tic­u­larly in re­la­tion to when a cy­clist was be­tween lines of traf­fic, his spokes­woman said: ‘Pro­vi­sions are cur­rently with the Of­fice of the Par­lia­men­tary Coun­sel for con­sid­er­a­tion and set­tling, while le­gal ad­vice is also be­ing sought in re­spect of those pro­vi­sions.’

Gar­daí seem un­aware of how they will deal with drivers who break it. On March 1, the MoS asked the Garda Síochána what equip­ment had been pro­cured for en­force­ment, how much it would cost, and what train­ing has been pro­vided. The MoS fol­lowed up with re­peated calls and emails No re­sponse has been forth­com­ing, six weeks later.

Cy­cling cam­paigner Phil Skel­ton, who lob­bied for the law, said that while it was dif­fi­cult to en­force, it was not about pe­nal­is­ing ev­ery mo­torist who broke the law.

‘A C3FT de­vice [which records the dis­tance of a ve­hi­cle from a bike] can be mounted on bi­cy­cles to de­tect the pass­ing dis­tance of pass­ing ve­hi­cles, as well as cap­ture their reg­is­tra­tion plate us­ing a [cam­era]. It’s en­forced in lots of dif­fer­ent ways us­ing bike cam footage but the whole idea is not about pe­nal­is­ing ev­ery mo­torist, it’s to un­der­score a mes­sage,’ he said.

He said in the US use of the C3FT nor­mally led to ed­u­ca­tion for the driver rather than a penalty.

Pres­i­dent of the Ir­ish Road Haulage As­so­ci­a­tion, Verona Mur­phy, said the law had sig­nif­i­cant is­sues.

‘The driver has taken a the­ory test and a prac­ti­cal test be­fore they use the road, which can’t be said of the cy­clist. The only li­a­bil­ity is on the driver. It doesn’t ref­er­ence where the cy­clist is on the road and there’s no guar­an­tee the cy­clist knows the rules of the road.

‘All par­ties and road users need to re­spect each other and I’m not sure that’s on the agenda with this. It’s a bad law,’ she said. ‘It’s only one side that the law is be­ing im­posed on. It’s wor­ry­ing that the min­is­ter doesn’t have knowl­edge.’

‘I don’t want a law that is un­en­force­able’

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