Farmers could be fined €80 for driving too close to cyclists

Farmers and other road users could soon be fined for driving too close to cyclists if a new road safety law being introduced by Fine Gael is cleared by the Dail.

The Bill was published today, February 22, by Fine Gael Galway East TD, Ciaran Cannon and Government Chief Whip Regina Doherty.

The Bill was not opposed in the Dail today and the second stage of the bill will now be taken in Private Members’ Time.

The Road Traffic (Minimum Passing Distance of Cyclists) Bill 2017, could see motorists forced to obey a minimum passing distance of 1.5m– and 1m in zones with speed limits of under 50km/h – when overtaking cyclists.

Drivers who do not comply with the new rules will face an €80 fine and three penalty points, as proposed in the Bill.

Fine Gael hopes that the Bill will be passed before the Dail rises for its summer break.

Deputy Cannon said that a worrying amount of drivers seem to have a ‘no contact, no harm’ attitude.

Over the last 24 months 20 cyclists have been killed on Irish roads. It is no longer acceptable to expose our cyclists to huge risks on our roads and this law sets out to significantly reduce those risks.

“A Minimum Passing Distance Law is essentially about creating a safe space on our roads for cyclists, a space where they feel protected.

“A number of drivers already give this space when overtaking but sadly many more don’t.

“This is about effecting a cultural change in Ireland so that every driver is aware of the vulnerability of cyclists, young and old, and drives accordingly.”

Countries that have introduced the 1.5m minimum distance law include France, Belgium, Portugal and Australia, 26 US states and several provinces in Canada.

The Road Traffic (Minimum Passing Distance of Cyclists) Bill 2017 is also being supported by Government Chief Whip Regina Doherty.

Deputy Doherty, who represents Meath East, said that we all need to share the roads and to do that they must be made safer.

“The only way to do this is to introduce a Minimum Passing Distance Law. Once a safe passing distance is legislated for, we need to significantly raise awareness of this law by amending the Rules of the Road and funding new public awareness campaigns.”