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

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.”

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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.”

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.