On yer bike: cyclists may soon be fined for misdemeanours

Dublin cyclists who break traffic lights or who cycle on paths could soon be subject to 'on-the spot' fines, under new plans from Dublin City Council to crack down on offenders.

It has written to transport minister Noel Dempsey asking him to consider introducing a new system of fines after a meeting of one of its key policing committees sanctioned the move.

Labour Party councillor Kevin Humphreys, who is leading the campaign to introduce fixed-charge penalties for cyclists, said they could range from €20 to €80 according to the seriousness of the offence.

Typical breaches may include cycling on the footpath, breaking red lights and cycling at night with no lights.

Humphreys said the introduction of the new penalty system was broadly supported by local gardaí, who currently have to pursue errant cyclists through the courts. This is because current legislation does not allow them to issue fixed-charge penalties .

Humphreys said that, while he welcomed the increase in use of bicycles in the city centre, due in no small part to the success of the Dublin Bikes rental scheme, cyclists "must have consideration for pedestrians and other road users – it is not just motorists that have to obey the law.

"I received many complaints from the public about cyclists using footpaths and pedestrian areas at high speed without any regard for pedestrians. Cycling in the city should be encouraged and facilities improved for them but pedestrians and other road users should also be protected," he said.

"I believe an on-the-spot fine system would greatly improve compliance with the law and would be a valuable tool to assist the gardaí in enforcing it.

"I'm a cyclist myself. But I think we need to have a balance between the rights of cyclists and pedestrians."

However, Mike McKillen of the Dublin Cycling Campaign said he opposed any move to introduce a new system of fines.

"We've enough legislation to cover this, but gardaí should start enforcing it. If you bring a few people to court, then others would soon get the message," he said.

"Gardaí have the powers to take people to court and they can im­pound the bicycle if necessary. New legislation is not needed, they should just use the existing legislation."