Ireland scraps plans for new law to tackle close passing

The new law would have made it an offence to pass within a set distance of a cyclist

A close pass law was due to be introduced in Ireland
(Image credit: Police Scotland)

A new law that would have set a minimum distance for drivers passing cyclists has been scrapped by the Irish government.

The legislation would have made it illegal to pass a rider within 1m on slower roads and 1.5m on stretches with a 50km/h limit or higher.

But the plans have been abandoned over concerns about how the law would be enforced.

Transport minister Shane Ross told The Irish Times newspaper: “What we are doing now is drafting a statutory instrument which will make dangerous overtaking, specifically of a cyclist, an offence.”

>>> Dangers of close passing and advice on ‘Dutch reach’ will be added to Highway Code

Instead, Irish lawmakers are now considering a law that does not specify the minimum passing distance.

Concerns are understood to have been raised by the Attorney General around how the minimum distance could be measured and enforced.

The new law without a minimum distance could be in place by April, but Mr Ross said he had not decided if it would carry the same punishment proposed, three penalty points and an €80 fine.

He added that the rolling out of new cycle lanes in Ireland would help protect cyclists and reduce hostility on the roads.

Irish champion Conor Dunne is amongst those let down by the news.

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The Israel Cycling Academy rider said: “Disappointed to read this morning that legislation in Ireland, making it an offence to pass a cyclist at less than 1m and 1.5m over 50km/h, has been abandoned.

“Sends out the complete wrong message to drivers and is a huge backwards step in my opinion.”

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There is already a law against dangerous overtaking, but it is believed there is no evidence of it being enforced.

Police forces across the UK have been cracking down on close passes with both undercover operations and dashcam footage captured by riders.

The dangers of close passing are also due to be highlighted in an update of the Highway Code, which will also recommend drivers use the ‘Dutch reach’ when exiting vehicles to protect cyclists.

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Alex Ballinger

Alex Ballinger is editor of BikeBiz magazine, the leading publication for the UK cycle industry, and is the former digital news editor for After gaining experience in local newsrooms, national newspapers and in digital journalism, Alex found his calling in cycling, first as a reporter, then as news editor responsible for Cycling Weekly's online news output, and now as the editor of BikeBiz. Since pro cycling first captured his heart during the 2010 Tour de France (specifically the Contador-Schleck battle) Alex covered three Tours de France, multiple editions of the Tour of Britain, and the World Championships, while both writing and video presenting for Cycling Weekly. He also specialises in fitness writing, often throwing himself into the deep end to help readers improve their own power numbers.  Away from the desk, Alex can be found racing time trials, riding BMX and mountain bikes, or exploring off-road on his gravel bike. He’s also an avid gamer, and can usually be found buried in an eclectic selection of books.