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Ireland eyes up close pass initiative

€80 fine and three penalty points for passes of less than 1.5m

A close passing law has been proposed in Ireland, following on from successful trials in the USA and parts of the UK.

But police, or gardaí, who will be expected to enforce the law, say they need more funding to do so.

The proposals would see drivers face a €80 fine and three penalty points if they are caught overtaking cyclists at a distance of less than 1.5 metres.

Fine Gael TD Ciarán Cannon said:"Create a safe space on our roads where cyclists can feel protected from passing traffic,” according to the Irish Independent.

Fianna Fáil transport spokesman Robert Troy asked what would happen on roads that aren't wide enough for cars to pass at distances of more than 1.5 metres and added: "Like any road legislation, enforcement is key."

Imelda Munster, Sinn Féin's transport spokeswoman, said she would seek assurances that the Garda Traffic Corps would be given additional funding to enforce the measure.

Last month we reported how a close pass initiative to protect cyclists could be rolled out by 16 police forces across the UK, covering a population of more than 20 million people.

West Midlands Police devised a simple sting operation last year using a decoy, plain clothed police officer, in a bid to reduce close overtaking and poor driving around cyclists, since which time it has achieved widespread praise, and halved complaints of dangerous overtaking by local cyclists.

The 16 police forces that attended a training and Q&A session near Edgbaston on Friday, covering at least 18 policing areas, were Avon and Somerset, Derbyshire, Gloucestershire, Greater Manchester, Hampshire, Humberside, Leicestershire, Merseyside, Norfolk, Surrey, South Yorkshire, Sussex, Warwickshire, West Mercia, and West Yorkshire, and Police Scotland, covering a total population of almost 20 million people.

Cycling UK, the national cycling charity, welcomed the growing interest in the initiative, but said more consistency is needed across the country.

Duncan Dollimore, Cycling UK’s Senior Road Safety officer said: “Cycling UK knew West Midlands Police were on to a winner when they rolled out their “Give Space, be Safe” campaign last year, which is why we backed it from the start. It’s a cheap, cost effective initiative that has proved highly effective at changing dangerous driving behaviour.

“It’s great to see so much interest in following West Midlands’ example, but Cycling UK is aware that a number of forces are still not getting their very simple message. We want to see more consistency across all police forces in tackling near misses, as these are not isolated incidents happening only in certain pockets of the country, but everywhere, every day".

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