That leave be granted to introduce a Bill entitled an Act to amend the Road Traffic Act 2010 to make provision for the use of digitally recorded data from electronic devices of footage and/or other readings from road traffic safety cameras/closed circuit television cameras as evidence of the unlawful entry into or parking in a bus lane or cycle track and to provide for related matters.
The purpose of this Bill is to permit the usage of footage or other readings from safety cameras as evidence for the enforcement of certain road traffic offences. Section 81 of the Road Traffic Act 2010 provides a list of traffic offences that CCTV evidence may be used for, for example, speeding. It is not, however, possible to use evidence from these cameras to enforce the following offences: parking in bus lanes, which is prohibited under SI 182 of 1997, Road Traffic (Traffic and Parking) Regulations 1997; parking in cycle lanes, which is prohibited under SI 274 of 1998; driving in bus lanes, which is prohibited under section 32 of SI 182 of 1997; and driving in cycle lanes.
Unfortunately, these laws related to cycle and bus lanes are frequently violated and present a significant inconvenience to bus drivers, the people who use buses and to cyclists. In the case of bus lanes, the presence of non-authorised vehicles slows down bus traffic and it takes longer for service users to get to their destination. It can also result in bus drivers having to swerve unexpectedly to avoid them. This presents a considerable challenge to bus drivers and clearly poses a safety risk to both car and bus users. In the case of cycle lanes, the presence of vehicles also presents a significant risk as cyclists must swerve into traffic to avoid parked vehicles. Ireland's cycling infrastructure is wholly inadequate as it is without it being rendered unusable by the presence of parked cars, skips and multiple other items being put in the way. These are widespread issues. I frequently take Dublin Bus. One morning, I spotted at least 15 cars parked illegally in a bus or cycle lane in a relatively short distance between Portobello and College Green.
We need to drastically improve our detection of these traffic violations. I believe that this could be done through the use of CCTV cameras to reinforce these new road traffic laws and increase detection of these offences. For example, Dublin Bus vehicles could be fitted with CCTV cameras to detect violations of these laws. This is already the case in the United Kingdom, New Zealand and many other jurisdictions. Evidence from these jurisdictions suggests that this enforcement works. In the borough of Gateshead in the United Kingdom, there was an initial surge in the number of fixed charge notices issued to motorists, which quickly fell by nearly a half. It is evidence that as drivers became aware that they were taking risks by using the bus lane, they wanted to avoid a fine.
A report last week by INRIX, a global company which specialises in transport analytics, confirmed that Dublin is now the slowest city centre in all of Europe. We are robbing people of one of their most valuable assets, time. This legislation is but a small measure that would help to speed up buses and make them more attractive, and be safer for cyclists. I hope that the Bill will enjoy cross-party support, given its importance to all transport users in Ireland. Our capital city is becoming one of the most congested in Europe. We must do all we can in the short and medium term to get Dublin moving again.