Minimum passing distance for overtaking cyclists 'unenforceable' says Shane Ross
"It wouldn't be possible to do that and it would be successfully challenged in the courts."
Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Shane Ross has described plans for establishing a minimum passing distance for cars overtaking cyclists as unenforceable.
Speaking on Newstalk Breakfast on Wednesday, Minister Ross confirmed that the Attorney General warned him directly that the plan to introduce a specific amount of space allowed to cyclists in instances of overtaking by motorists would face regular legal challenges.
The proposed law would see an enforced distance of 1.5 metres maintained between cyclists and motorists when overtaking.
"[The plans] haven't been abandoned," began the Minister.
"Quite the opposite. We had measures ready and prepared for a minimum passing distance of 1.5 [metres] for cyclists, which is practiced in some other countries but the Attorney General feels that that is not a way forward because of the enforceability measure.
"It wouldn't be possible to do that and it would be challenged and it would be successfully challenged in the courts."
Pressed on why such challenges would prove successful, Ross explained the difficulty in incorporating an accurate system of measurement.
"There isn't the technology available at the moment to actually measure the 1.5 [metres], in which case it would be challenged in every case that the technology wasn't working and you couldn't prove the actual distance," he said.
Ross also discussed a substitute plan; a dangerous overtaking of cyclists statutory instrument which he hopes will have "the same effect" as the minimum distancing passing plan would have.
"It's by far the best possible solution at the moment because we are concerned about cyclists and we're concerned about the dangers to them and I've just allocated €400,000 for special lights in places in Dublin and I hope we're going to extend it country-wide to protect cyclists."
Meanwhile, new figures have revealed that Ireland had the lowest number of road deaths in 2018 since records were first compiled in 1959.
149 road deaths occurred last year, marking a 4% decrease in the numbers of 2017.
Of the 149 road deaths, 63 were car drivers, 15 were motorcyclists, 9 were cyclists, 21 were car passengers, and 41 were pedestrians.
Back in 1959, the first full year of road traffic fatalities, there were 306 recorded deaths. It reached a high of 640 in 1972, before slowly beginning to decrease.
2011 was the first year the road death numbers dropped below 200, with 2018 finding the lowest road deaths yet.