The Gardai have been accused of giving misleading advice after helmets and hi-vis clothing have appeared on a poster describing new fineable offences for cyclists.
The posters, listing seven new Fixed Charged Notices which come into force 31 July, picture a cartoon cyclist with pointers to helmets, fluorescent clothing and reflectors, whose absence aren't a legal requirement or fineable, as well as front and rear lights, which are.
The Irish Cycling Advocacy Network, Cyclist.ie, has accused the Gardai of sending mixed messages with its poster, and of a "car-centric view of traffic management" and of "ignoring" driving offences like speeding.
7 days to go! new FCPNs apply from 31st July, the 7 offences are listed 1-7 beneath the cycle safely illustration pic.twitter.com/fyPPbMT3GE
— An Garda Síochána (@GardaTraffic) July 24, 2015
Dublin Cycling Campaign's Colm Ryder, in a letter to the Garda, points out the poster is not technically correct, not least because points four and seven, regarding cyclists running red lights, are duplicates.
He said: "We are also disappointed that the issues of helmet wearing, hi-viz, and front reflectors, all of which are not mandatory, and do not incur a fine or are not illegal, are bound up with the agreed issues which are illegal - although not having a rear reflector, does not incur an FCN. We suggest that these need to clearly distinguished as not incurring any fine, or not being an offence.
"In summary we are disappointed with the inaccuracy of the post and we suggest it be corrected as soon as possible, and that the non-mandatory items be removed from the post."
— Dublin Cycling (@dublincycling) July 22, 2015
In a statement on its website, Cyclist.ie voices frustration at the apparent lack of evidence used in coming up with the new charges.
It said: "We are not convinced that the ‘risk’ element associated with these proposed FCN offences has been properly assessed in the context of overall national road safety policy. Do cyclists kill other road users? What level of injury/offence is caused by cyclists in comparison with motor vehicles? What quantum improvement in road safety will be achieved through the introduction of these FCNs? We have yet to see real analyses / figures, or be convinced by anything other than anecdotal comments.
— Dublin Cycling (@dublincycling) July 23, 2015
Following a meeting with the Gardai, Cyclist.ie said: "We certainly acknowledge the logic in tackling careless cycling. However, we are still very concerned that the more serious issues of motor vehicles exceeding speed limits, overtaking closely/dangerously and fly-parking in cycle tracks are not being addressed in a way that will make Irish roads safe and attractive environments in which to walk or cycle for people of all ages and abilities.
"We did get a clear sense that they are much more favourable to ignoring certain motor vehicle infractions (discretionary policing), in order to ‘keep business moving’, rather than considering the issue of a safer environments for all road users. They appear to have a very car-centric view of traffic management."
The Gardai used its Twitter account to reinforce the fact hi-vis and helmets are not compulsory but "highly recommended"
@kevhog88 Hi vis & helmet are NOT compulsory but are highly recommended. Research indicates helmets are very effective in low speed crashes
— An Garda Síochána (@GardaTraffic) July 25, 2015
The seven fineable Fixed Charged Notices for cycling, which come into effect on 31 July, are below.
1. No front lamp or rear lamp during lighting up hours on a bike
2. Cyclist driving a pedal cycle without reasonable consideration
3. Cyclist failing to stop for a school warden sign
4. Cyclist going through a red light
5. Cyclist proceeding past a stop line, barrier at a railway level crossing, swing bridge, when the red lamps are flashing
6. Cyclist proceeding into a pedestrianised street or area
7. Cyclist proceeding past cycle traffic lights when red lamp is lit
Sergeant Tony Connaughton explained to road.cc the first part of the poster is about safety, the second about the fines.
He said: "We continue to promote safety on the roads. We also continue to promote the use of helmets, hi-vis clothing and lights. An Garda Siochana, the RSA and other agencies, regularly distribute hi vis garments and lights.
"The poster starts with cycle safely, we then clearly list all existing offences which now attract fix charge penalty notices."
"Gardai urge cyclists to comply with the legislation, be safe, be seen and stop at red light etc. Cyclists need to be aware of the 7 offences as listed on the leaflet and avoid the 40 euro fine. Cyclists can play a part in making the roads safer. Motorists' must also respect cyclists and exercise care share the road safely (sic)."