Big news as 1.5m cyclist passing distance to become law in Ireland

Posted on: February 28th, 2018

Ireland 1.5m cyclist safe pass

Ireland agrees 1.5 metre cyclist safe pass law: The Irish government has today agreed to make it against the law for motorists to pass cyclists too closely.


Irish Government agrees to introduce 1.5 metre cyclist safe pass law


After a concerted campaign over the last few years – most of it by the Stayin’ Alive at 1.5 group – the Irish Government has agreed to introduce safe passing distance legislation.

It means it will be against the law for a motorist to overtake a cyclist closer than one metre or 1.5 metres.

The distance that motorists must give cyclists when passing them will be 1 metre on roads with a speed limit of 50km per hour or less.

And the safe passing distance will be 1.5 metres on roads with a speed limit above 50km per hour.

Motorists who break the law will be punished with fines and penalty points. The enacting of the new law should also see special enforcement campaigns by the Garda.

However, the very introduction of the law will hopefully bring about a change in driver behavior that makes cyclists safer.

Minister for Transport Shane Ross has said today the new laws would definitely be introduced by the Government. And he believed there were needed to save cyclists lives.

The development is a huge boost for cycling safety, especially since Shane Ross had himself expressed scepticism several times about how workable the legislation would be.

But, thankfully, he has been won over. And the lion’s share of the gratitude from the cycling community must go to Phil Skelton and his Stayin’ Alive at 1.5 campaign.

“Clearly this is an intolerable situation which has to change,” Shane Ross said of cycling fatalities increasing by 50 per cent to 15 last year.

“Every life lost on our roads is a tragedy. And as Minister for Transport, I am committed to do everything within my power to prevent preventable road deaths.”

He also believed introducing the new legislation would bring about a cultural shift in the way motorists behaved towards cyclists.

“If such awareness entails safer driving and fewer fatalities then it will be worth introducing the necessary legislation,” he said.

The Road Safety Authority issued a new report today which effectively poured cold water on the new safe passing distance legislation.

The authority believed motorists needed to be educated, instead of criminalised because of close passing.

The RSA also said there was little conclusive evidence to show close passing legislation actually works.

Mr Ross said educating drivers was a positive step. But the approach to making cyclists safer needed to be underpinned with close-pass legislation.

“It is not enough for me to say we simply just have an education campaign, my job is to introduce law and to make law,” he said.

“It is going to be done in the correct way by secondary legislation. We are going to go the extra mile in the pursuit of saving lives.

“We need more cyclists, we need less cars… If we make the roads a safer place there are likely to be more people getting out of their cars.”

No timeline was put on the enactment of the legislation, though Mr Ross said the process would begin immediately.

In the meantime the RSA would run an awareness campaign about motorists close passing cyclists.