Ireland is to introduce a specific offence of dangerous overtaking of cyclists, although earlier plans to introduce a minimum safe passing distance will not be enacted.
The new offence, which will be laid on the statute books on 12 November by Minister of Transport, Tourism and Sport Shane Ross, will attract a maximum fine of €120.
Until now, motorists who overtake cyclists too closely have faced an €80 penalty under a general law against dangerous overtaking.
RTE reports Mr Ross as saying that the new law is being brought in to recognise that cyclists are a particularly vulnerable group of road users.
No minimum passing distance will be stipulated because, on the advice of the country’s Attorney General, it would prove difficult to enforce.
However, the Road Safety Authority will be launching an educational campaign urging drivers to give cyclists an overtaking distance of at least 1 metre on roads with a speed limit of 50kph or lower, and 1.5 metres where the speed limit is higher.
Phil Skelton, organiser of Staying Alive at 1.5, which has campaigned for a minimum passing distance law, welcomed the new legislation but warned that it “should not be seen as the panacea of cyclist safety.”
He told IrishCycle.com: “I welcome this announcement with cautious optimism. This will be a new model of cyclist specific dangerous overtaking law and it’s important to give this the opportunity to work.
“Much work has gone into the background of this if they all come together, I believe it will.
“This should not be seen as the panacea of cyclist safety but it will act as another tool in the cyclist safety toolkit.
“It certainly should not be viewed as a substitute to dedicated, connected segregated cycling infrastructure but more of a beach head strategy,” he added.
Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.