Belfast Telegraph

Friday 22 August 2014

On-the-spot cycle fines criticised

Campaigners say the Transport Minister's fixed-charge penalties feed into a 'fashionable' attack on cycling

On-the-spot fines for cyclists running red lights and mounting pavements have been attacked as a populist measure ignoring genuine safety fears.

Campaigners say Transport Minister Leo Varadkar's fixed-charge penalties feed into a "fashionable" attack on cycling and are "unimaginative".

Damien O'Tuama, of Dublin Cycling Campaign, agreed some "bowsie" cyclists deserve to be hit with the 50 euro fines, but urged Garda discretion on handing them out.

"Sometimes cyclists break a red light for good reason," he said.

"They do it in a considered, thoughtful, reflective way. If you have a truck behind you, encroaching into the cycle box at a junction, if you remain there then you are out of view of the truck. And most cyclist fatalities happen when a truck is turning left, where they don't see the cyclist and the cyclist gets crushed."

A number of European cities, including Paris, allow cyclists to break red lights as long as they give way to pedestrians and any incoming traffic.

Under the schemes, cyclists are responsible in the event of a collision. Road safety experts insist the measures reduce road accidents.

Mr O'Tuama claimed it was "slightly fashionable" at the moment to have a dig at cyclists.

"The on-the-spot fines are a populist move," he said. "There are a lot of people and it annoys them intensely when they are stuck in cars not moving, and they see a cyclist passing them by or sometimes passing through a red light."

Mr Varadkar said he will bring in the new regulations before the end of the year, allowing fines to be imposed on cyclists for breaking red lights, cycling on a footpath and dangerously overtaking. The fines will have to be paid within 56 days or the cyclist will face a court appearance and increased penalty.

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