Minister Shane Ross,
Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport.,
44 Kildare Street,
Dear Minister Ross,
I am writing to you as a concerned cyclist who hopes that you can help me to regain the right to be able to ride safely, and without fear of victimisation from the increasing number of motorists who feel that cyclists have no right to use the roads we all pay for.
It has become apparent to all of us that there needs to be more done to address deficiencies in the current overtaking laws in that motorists may come dangerously close to a cyclist while overtaking and at considerable speed, posing an undeniable risk, and yet breach no meaningful law. As part of Ireland’s cycling community I am requesting that you enact legislation to modify existing sections of the Irish Rules of the Road requiring that a motorist maintain a minimum safe distance of one and a half (1.5) metres between their vehicle and a cyclist whilst overtaking. While this would not be the panacea to all of a cyclists woes regarding road safety, it would certainly go a long way to making us vulnerable cyclists more secure. Such a measure will strengthen current laws with respect to cyclists.
This proposal, by providing clear boundaries, will better serve the interests of motorists and cyclists alike. Furthermore, this proposal would also reflect the fact that it is not necessary for a motorist to collide with a cyclist in order to endanger either life or health; an anomaly that must be addressed if your government is to reduce congestion and promote cycling as a viable alternative means of transportation.
introducing Minimum Passing Distance Laws (MPDL) would bring Ireland into line with 26 U.S. states, 2 Canadian Provinces, Australian states and territories, France, Belgium, Spain, Portugal etc. (with more jurisdictions in talks currently).
Because of fuel costs and bike to work schemes etc., there has been a huge increase in the amount of bicycles on our roads, however there has been no worthwhile modifications to the current road rules to reflect this fact, and thereby, affording cyclists the protection by law that we deserve as vulnerable road users.
Our current Irish Rules of the Road state that ‘you should give extra space when overtaking a cyclist’ and on page 54 recommends this space as 1.5 metres. This needs to go from merely a recommendation to being a mandatory minimum passing distance, underscored and crystallised as law for its full effect to take hold as they have witnessed in Queensland http://eprints.qut.edu.au/94655/ Loosly formed rules of the road and laws place me and other bicycle riders at tremendous risk when sharing the roads of this country with motorised vehicles in that they are ambiguous and open to interpretation where they cannot afford to be when the lives of citizens are at stake.
This law needs be further strengthened by the use of the word ‘must’ which changes the phrase from a suggestion to that of a point of law. This, in turn, needs to be further enhanced by a change to the current overtaking statutory offence which is set out in Section No.10 of SI No.182 of 1997.
I’m sure that you are aware that the safe distance between a cyclist and a vehicle varies considerably depending on the speed and road conditions but certainly a motorist should not overtake a cyclist with less than a metre and a half to spare.
I am also asking that international standard ‘share the road’ signage be adopted and used in conjunction with the one and a half (1.5) metre rule change, to serve as a reminder to all road users of their responsibilities.
I urge you to heed the mounting calls for the inadequacies in the current road rules and take authoritative action to implement a Minimum Safe passing Distance rule for the sake of myself, my friends and my loved ones.