Wednesday, 28 January 2004

Questions (73, 74)

Eamon Ryan

Question:

174 Mr. Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for Transport if he intends to review the regulations governing the design and use of cycle lanes; and if he will consider amending the regulations designating the mandatory use of certain cycle lanes given the criticism by cycling campaign groups that such a restriction may in certain circumstances restrict a cyclist from taking the safest manoeuvring action on the road. [2157/04]

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Olivia Mitchell

Question:

267 Ms O. Mitchell asked the Minister for Transport if he will outline the legislation in place to control the use of cycle paths and to ensure they are kept free of obstruction. [2526/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Transport)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 174 and 267 together.

The statutory basis for the use of cycle tracks is set out in the Road Traffic (Traffic and Parking) Regulations 1997 and 1998. The regulations provide for two types of cycle tracks, namely, mandatory cycle tracks, which are indicated by a continuous white line, which cyclists must use and other vehicles must not enter — except for access to premises — and non-mandatory cycle tracks which are indicated by a broken white line from which cyclists may depart in certain circumstances, for example, to pass a stopped bus or change direction at a junction and which other vehicles are restricted from entering, save in very particular circumstances.

The regulations also prohibit parking in a cycle track. That offence comes within the scope of the on the spot fines system and the amount of the on the spot fine currently applicable to the offence is €19, which is the level that applies to the majority of parking offences. Where an on the spot fine notice is issued, it is open to the person to whom the notice is addressed to pay the relevant amount so as to avoid the matter proceeding to court.

Section 23 of the Road Traffic Act 2002, which was commenced on 31 October 2002, provides for major increases in certain financial penalties for road traffic offences including an increase in the general penalty that applies to the majority of offences under the Road Traffic Acts, including the offence of illegally parking in a cycle track.

If the motorist elects to go to court and is convicted of this offence he or she is liable to a fine not exceeding €800 for a first offence, a fine not exceeding €1,500 for a second or subsequent offence and if a third or subsequent such offence is committed within 12 months the person is liable to a fine not exceeding €1,500 or, at the discretion of the court, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months or both. The determination of the fine to be imposed in each particular case is a matter for the courts.

That Act also provides for the replacement of the present on the spot fines system by a fixed charge system. The new system will bring greater certainty to the application of administrative charges for the traffic and parking offences to which it will apply. I expect that the full roll out of the fixed charge system will be completed this year.

A design manual for cycle facilities entitled Provision of Cycle Facilities — National Manual for Urban Areas was published in March 1998 by the Dublin Transportation Office, DTO, in association with the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government. The manual comprises a comprehensive set of guidelines for the design and provision of cycle facilities and is intended to be of assistance to local authorities in ensuring that such facilities are implemented to a uniform and high standard. This 1998 manual is currently being reviewed by the DTO and is expected to be finalised later this year.