Shane Ross strongly dismisses 1.5m close pass law for cyclists

Posted on: January 5th, 2018

Shane Ross close pass laws cyclists unenforceable

Despite close-pass laws being rolled out, for the benefit of cyclists, in many countries, Irish Minister for Transport Shane Ross has voiced his scepticism about the “unenforceable” laws.


Minister for Transport Shane Ross has given a very strong indication that he believes close-pass legislation is not workable.

The Stayin’ Alive at 1.5 campaign has been pressing for the introduction of new legislation.

Senior Government politicians Ciaran Cannon and Regina Doherty last year published a Bill setting out how it would work.

Motorists would be required by law to allow a distance of 1.5 metres when passing cyclists. The passing distance would be reduced to 1 metre in zones where the speed limit was under 50km per hour.

Those in breach of the law would face fines and three penalty points. Similar legislation, and police enforcement campaigns, have been rolled out in other countries.

Last year it emerged that officials in the Department of Justice feared the legislation would not be enforceable in Ireland.

And now Minister Ross has gone much further. His words offer a strong indication the mooted legislation is a long way off.

“We are looking at it, it has difficulties. It was tried in Australia and elsewhere. The problem is proof, the problem is enforcement,” Mr Ross told The Irish Times.

“I do not want to introduce a measure that is basically unenforceable. How do you prove someone is 1.5 metres away? That is very hard to prove.”

He added that his official were “sceptically” examining the idea.

“It is not ruled out but it is not as easy as it looks. If you put 1.5 metres between them all the time, you have got to be able to prove people have committed that offence.”

Phil Skelton of the Stayin’ Alive at 1.5 campaign said Mr Ross was using “straw man arguments”.

“A large part of this is about driver education. Most cyclists would be delighted if no driver was ever charged under this proposed legislation if it means that 99.99 per cent of drivers are overtaking people on bicycles, with this defined safe margin for error,” he said.

“Indeed this new proposed law would mean very little to the majority of motorists who heed the advice from the Road Safety Authority by staying wider of the rider and leaving the recommended 1.5 metres of lateral space when overtaking a person on a bicycle.

“In Ireland though, there are still a cohort drivers who think it’s OK to intimidate, bully and squeeze you off the road so long as blood is not spilled.

“You don’t have to be a road safety expert to realise that those with very little chance of being caught will continually offend.”