Cycling and the Law

Three of us in Pierse Fitzgibbon have committed to cycling the ring of Kerry this year to raise funds for Ard Curam, the day care centre in Listowel.  All donations will be appreciated!  When I was cycling through Ballylongford on Saturday morning trying to think of what I would write my article about I got the inspiration to inform you on this topic.  Cycling is becoming more and more prevalent in society.  Even the Gardai are now cycling!
Injured on your bike.  Cyclists are subject to the same entitlements as pedestrians and other road users if they are injured.  If another vehicle owner is negligent, or if a cyclist is attacked by a dog then the insurance companies for the driver, or dog owner generally accept the cyclist is entitled to compensation.  I have recently settled two cases where cyclists suffered significant injuries, one where a passenger opened a door knocking the cyclist from his bike and another where a driver was during across a roadway and didn’t see a cyclist overtaking him.
Similarly I had a case a number of years ago where a cyclist knocked a pedestrian down.  The case was resolved on the basis that the cyclist paid the injured lady’s medical bills.  Cyclists should however be aware that sometimes your household insurance policy will cover you for these types of “personal accidents”.
Cycling on a footpath.  Cyclists should be aware that it is illegal for any road user to drive/cycle on the pavements, except in order to access a driveway.  There is nothing in law to provide an exemption for vulnerable cyclists such as small children.  If you are off the bike and pushing it along the pavement then technically you are a pedestrian.
Breaking a red light.  It is currently an offence for any road user, cyclist or motorist, to break a red light.  About 200 people a year are prosecuted for this, so be careful at Ballygologue and the Square!  The definition of breaking a red light also includes crossing over the solid white line when the light is red.  Cyclists are allowed cross the advanced stop line (ASL) to get into a bike box, but they are not allowed advance beyond that, even if motorists are illegally occupying the bike box.  Many cyclists argue that they need to stop beyond the white line for their own personal safety, so that traffic can see them properly, but it may be difficult to argue/prove that point.
Helmets and High Vis clothing. Despite the general perception cyclists are not required by law to wear helmets or high visibility clothing.  The Rules of the Roads do suggest that you should use them but there is no legal requirement.
Road Worthiness.  Cyclists are required to keep their bike in a road worthy condition.  Although bikes aren’t subject to the NCT or other inspection, you must keep your brakes, tyres, chain and lights in good condition.  Bikes are legally required to have a reflector in the back and a working bell, two things in modern bikes that are often overlooked (including in mine).
Mobile phones. I know I always bring a mobile phone in case I get a puncture as I am too lazy to fix it on the spot.   It is not illegal to cycle and talk on a mobile phone at the same time.  The law regarding mobile phones is currently restricted to people operating mechanically propelled vehicles.  Also while it is not advisable to wear headphones while cycling, there is no law against it.
Drink , Drugs & Dangerous cycling. Finally it is illegal to cycle or attempt to cycle a bike while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
There is a specific section in a recent Road Traffic Act on dangerous cycling.  As the definition of a vehicle includes a pedal cycle you can find yourself in trouble under the Act.  There are about five prosecutions a week currently against cyclists for dangerous cycling.
I hope I haven’t frightened you too much!