VIDEO: Examples of close passing manoeuvres on Irish roads.
Ok so you have been out cycling and you feel the chilling effect and intimidation of wind displacement and vibrations caused by a close passing vehicle. You know the feeling from previous incidents but this time you are using an onboard or head camera and you’ve recorded the incident on your ride. You’re mad as hell and want to report it to the Gardaí.
What do you do and what should you expect?
This blog is based on personal experience and that of others along with private conversations that I have had with some Gardaí. It does not have legal standing and acts as guidance only.
Others might have different experiences of how to best go about this too and future updates will reflect that.
Many people send us in their footage here at Stayin’ Alive at 1.5 and we mostly don’t share them individually these days. Instead we advise the individual that if he/she feels so strongly that a wrong has been perpetrated, that they should consider reporting it to the Gardaí.
There are a many reasons why we do this so here are the 2 main ones:
1. It normally leads to the usual merry-go-round of the ‘who’s right, who’s wrong’ commentary and ultimately becomes heated and just runs to stand still until the next piece of footage arrives.
2. ‘The squeaky wheel gets the oil’ – There would appear to be many Gardaí who simply don’t see the close passing of bicycle riders as being problematic, especially where no collision has occurred. This could simply be because it largely goes unreported.
Some people just hate reporting video footage to the Gardaí. Many of us live in rural Ireland and in all probability are likely know the driver or someone that they know does, meaning some bicycle riders are not as likely to report in these circumstances.
We would appear to be a long way from where verified footage could just be uploaded to a relevant Garda portal and once the driver is identified, the case could proceed from there.
Like all such matters, we need to work within the parameters of existing structures and I hope this blog helps with that.
Before you commit..
Before committing to taking your footage to the Gardaí you should comfortable with the fact that you will more than likely be asked to make a statement and if you are willing to go to court with your incident.
Many complaints fall at this hurdle.
You may not want to go all the way down that route and maybe all that you are looking for is for the driver to be issued with a warning by the Gardaí and for this you may not be required to make a statement or go to court but this is likely to be viewed on a case by case basis.
Once you are comfortable with this, you will need to upload your video footage. Ideally this footage will have a date and time stamp for verification purposes. (It’s for this reason why a camera such as Fly6 & Fly12 etc might be your camera of choice).
Do not alter the footage in any way (slow motion etc.) and cut the clip to present around 2 mins before and 2 mins after the alleged incident. This will allow for a greater overview of the incident. Copying the footage on to a memory stick is probably easiest for all concerned. Keep a copy of the original footage just in case it is required later.
Visit our website for a suggested accompanying letter where you can explain your incident further. Feel free to alter to suit your needs.
Presenting the footage to the Garda Station.
Garda numbers have shrunk over the last while and you are competing for their valuable time with other crimes. Some may not see the seriousness of your alleged offence especially if no collision has occurred. Some might be coming to the end of their shift or maybe have just had a bad day and might be dismissive of your incident. Being patient assertive and persuasive will help in this case but do not resort to ranting, shouting etc as this is not helpful irrespective of your frustration.
While we in Ireland do not currently have a cyclist specific minimum passing distance law, many incidents can be pursued under section 51A – driving without due care and attention or others at the discretion of the prosecuting Garda. (A full list of offences incurring penalty points can be found at this link) http://www.rsa.ie/Documents/Licensed%20Drivers/Penalty%20Points%20Chart1.pdf
After reporting the video, you will need to make a statement and you may be asked if you are prepared to go to court.
Getting your incident PULSE no.
This incident should go on the Garda pulse system. This in turn generates a pulse number that you are entitled to request under the victims charter. This number enables Gardaí to access information on the crime at any stage.
Each complaint irrespective of whether it is deemed a crime or not should go into the pulse system. Each case will be different but the Gardaí are obliged to investigate.
Get the name and rank of the Garda that you reported the incident to.
This is a link to the victims charter should you need to quote it. http://www.garda.ie/Documents/User/An%20Garda%20S%C3%ADoch%C3%A1na%20Victims%20Charter%20English%20Version.pdf
The driver will need to be identified. A file then should go to the Inspector or Superintendent for a decision.
That’s what should happen.
If you are not happy, then ask to see the Superintendent.
Be aware of the timeframe for prosecution as you may need to check back in to the station within this timeframe for updates. This is 6 months for summary prosecutions, section 52 and 53 Road Traffic Act. 110 days for an FCPN for section 51A driving without due care and attention.
There are over 600 offences which are FCPN, these too must be within 110 days.