Ireland’s transport minister says he is in favour of making hi-visibility gear compulsory for cyclists – although before introducing any legislation, he would like to see people encouraged to wear it through road safety campaigns. However, cycling campaigners have said the notion of requiring riders to wear such clothing is "ludicrous."
Shane Ross, the country’s minister for transport, tourism and sport, made the comments in a written answer to Robert Troy, the transport spokesman of the opposition Fianna Fail party.
Troy had asked Ross, who sits as an independent, to set out "his plans to bring forward legislation to make it compulsory to wear a high-visibility top and reflective clothing on unlit roads after dark; and if he will make a statement on the matter."
In a written reply, Ross said: "To create a statutory obligation on the wearing of reflective clothing would entail making it a criminal offence under Road Traffic legislation for any person guilty of not wearing high visibility clothing.
"A person in breach of such a provision would fall to be issued with a fixed charge notice or summonsed to court, depending on whatever procedure would be put in place for the processing of such offences. I am of the view that despite certain obstacles, this measure is worth pursuing, if it could save even one life."
He added: "However, in the short term, I am exploring whether the wearing of high visibility clothing is better achieved by way of educational and publicity campaigns run by the Road Safety Authority (RSA) rather than by pursuing a punitive approach to the issue, particularly having regard to the large numbers of children and young people who cycle."
In February this year, when Troy previously raised the issue of making hi-viz clothing mandatory for cyclists, the CEO of the RSA, Moyagh Murdock, rejected the idea and told a parliamentary transport committee: “This is not a police state.”
Dublin Cycling Campaign spokesman Mike McKillen said that it was “ludicrous” to make cyclists wear hi-viz gear.
He told The Times: “We need to target the less-than-careful drivers who are causing all the mayhem and ruin lives.
“Asking potential victims to wear high-visibility clothing is just ludicrous and stands health and safety management principles on their head.
“It’s being pedalled as a panacea for making our roads safer. It won’t.”
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.