I welcome the news that the Department of Transport is considering extending on-the-spot fines or fixed charge penalties to cyclists who break the rules of the road. This is a policy change I have long advocated for and believe it is a crucial part of fostering and encouraging cycling in Ireland.
I fully support increased investment in cycling infrastructure and measures to encourage more people to take up cycling, however it must be balanced by strong and enforceable rules. I have raised this issue numerous times with Minister Varadkar and I welcome his openness to consider a change in the law.
The success of Dublin Bikes, the cycle to work scheme and the many improved cycle paths shows that there is a public demand, but all road users must be subject to regulation. Under the proposals a cyclist breaking the law would have the option to pay a fine within 56 days of its issue date or go to court.
The vast majority of cyclists obey and honour the rules of the road but there must be penalties for those who consistently cycle on footpaths and break red lights, which put pedestrians, particularly the elderly, in danger. However, common sense must be the guiding principle recognising that bicycles are different to other road vehicles.
Those cycling without working lights should also be subject to penalties. Anyone travelling in Dublin during the dark winter mornings and evenings can see the dangers of the many bikes being used without proper lights, putting themselves and other road users at risk of collision during peak commuting times.
I look forward to engaging with Minister Varadkar on these issues in the coming months.