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Cyclists mandated to use cycle tracks again?

12/08/2016

Cycling advocates are annoyed and perplexed by attempts by the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport to reinterpret road traffic regulations so that cyclists are required to use cycle tracks where provided. Their re-interpretation (of S.I. No. 332/2012) means that both sports cyclists (even in large groups) and utility/transportation cyclists are deemed to be required to use the tracks. Given the poor quality of design, construction and maintenance of so many of the country's cycle tracks, it is Cyclist.ie’s opinion that it is neither practicable nor safe to be forced to use them.

(Photo: Doughiska Road, Galway [Credit: Galway Cycling Campaign])


By way of background, the original 1997 regulations mandated cyclists to cycle tracks irrespective of their quality. Cycling campaigners in Galway Cycling Campaign, Dublin Cycling Campaign and in Cyclist.ie spent 15 years (no exaggeration!) lobbying to get the regulations changed. Eventually they were revoked in 2012, just a few years after the Department of Transport published its National Cycle Policy Framework (NCPF) -
 which included the following Objective (on page 41):


15.4 Mandatory Use Regulation


We will revoke the Statutory Instrument that requires cyclists to use cycle tracks where they are provided - Road Traffic (Traffic and Parking) Amendment Regulations, S.I. No. 274 (1998).



This regulation is unsatisfactory for a number of reasons:



(i) it is clear that the cycling infrastructure that has been constructed to date is often of a poor standard and is poorly maintained, and cyclists are required to use it;


(ii) it can force cyclists to be on cycle tracks and (when they are planning on continuing straight ahead) to be on the inside of left-turning vehicles, including Heavy Goods Vehicles;


(iii) if a group of cyclists (on a weekend cycle for example) is using a road with an off-road cycle-track alongside it, then they are required to use it – which is not practicable.


It is crystal clear in the NCPF that the intention of the then Minister was to remove the requirement to use cycle tracks for the sensible reasons outlined in Objective 15.4 above. The 2012 Regulation acted on that commitment. It is the opinion of Cyclist.ie, which has considerable technical expertise in this area, that the reinterpretation of the Regulations by the Department and the Road Safety Authority is incorrect. Their reinterpretation makes a mockery of the previous Ministers’ intentions.


We call on all cyclists to email the Minister for Transport, Shane Ross T.D., asking him to put the record straight -
minister@transport.ie. You might also append a photograph of your ‘favourite’ sub-optimal cycle track with your mail.


For more about this story, visit journalist / blogger Cian Ginty’s stories at:
HERE



Article by Damien O'Tuama - Cyclist.ie

Cyclist.ie is the member for Ireland of the European Cyclists’ Federation (
www.ecf.com). It gratefully acknowledges the support of Cycling Ireland in its advocacy work on behalf of all cyclists.

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