Cycling is fun, convenient, cheap and good for your health. Bikes are vehicles though, and as such, they come with their sets of rules and regulations.
In the interest of safety, it’s important that cyclists obey the rules of the road. As a cyclist, you are particularly vulnerable.
You are legally obliged to keep your bike in good working order. You must cycle with reasonable consideration, and be sober enough to control your bike.
If you are using a bike on a public road in Ireland it must be fitted with reflectors and lights to ensure that you are visible. All bikes on public roads must comply with the Road Traffic (Lighting of Vehicles) Regulations 1963 as amended. This law sets down the type of reflectors and lights that your bike must have and when you must use your bike lights. In addition to lights, your bike must also have:
- A bell, which can be heard from a reasonable distance
- Front and rear brakes
- A rear reflector that can be seen from a reasonable distance
What other rules of the road apply to cyclists?
When cycling you must:
- Stop at traffic lights when required
- Stop at pedestrian crossings and zebra crossings
- Stop at cycle traffic lights
- Stop at stop signs and yield right of way at yield signs.
- Avoid cycling on motorways (which is illegal)
It is an offence to ride a bicycle while holding on to another moving vehicle (other than another bicycle which no one is riding).
Do I have to wear a cycling helmet or hi-visibility clothing?
You are not legally obliged to wear a helmet or hi-visibility clothing while cycling in Ireland. But the Road Safety Authority of Ireland recommends cyclists wear both for safety.
Is it legal to cycle two abreast in Ireland?
Cyclists can cycle two abreast but you must not cycle more than two abreast, except when overtaking and it does not endanger or obstruct other traffic.
Can I overtake a vehicle on the inside?
A cyclist can overtake a vehicle on the left (or inside of the flow of traffic) if the vehicles to the right are stationary or moving more slowly than the cyclist.
However as a cyclist you cannot overtake on the inside if the vehicle you intend to overtake:
- Is signalling an intention to turn to the left and will move to the left before you overtake it
- Is stationary for the purpose of allowing a passenger to alight or board the vehicle
- Is stationary for the purposes of loading or unloading
What are the rules about overtaking cyclists?
When overtaking, it is recommended that drivers should leave 1.5 metres between them and your bicycle in areas with speed limits above 50km/h. In areas with lower speed limits, drivers should allow one metre when overtaking.
Since 12 November 2019, it is a separate offence to overtake a cyclist dangerously. Drivers who overtake you dangerously while you are cycling are liable for a fixed charge of €120, and could have 3 penalty points added to their licence.
Am I legally obliged to use cycle lanes?
You do not have to use a cycle lane unless the cycle lane is a contra-flow cycle lane allowing cyclists to go in the opposite direction to the traffic on a one-way street. If the cycle lane is a contra-flow cycle lane you must use it to navigate the street and you can only cycle in the contra-flow direction.
What are fixed charge offences?
Since 2015 Gardaí have the power to stop cyclists and fine them for specific fixed charge cycling offences. Gardaí can fine cyclists for the following offences:
If you receive a fixed charge notice, you have 28 days from the date of the issue of the fixed charge notice to pay the fine. If it is not paid within 28 days, the charge is increased by 50%. If it is not paid within 56 days then court proceedings are initiated (and payment will no longer be accepted).
If you misplace, lose or damage your fixed charge notice, you should contact the Garda Fixed Charge Processing Office. A re-print of the notice will be sent to you by post. However, the time period allowed for payment is not extended by your request for a re-print.
If you pay the fixed charge notice within the legal time limits and court proceedings are not commenced, you will not have a criminal record in respect of the offence.
Is it legal to cycle on a footpath?
Since 2015 the laws governing cycling have been regulated into specific fixed charge offences. Gardaí have the power to stop and fine a cyclist if they commit a fixed charge offence. Cycling on a footpath is not a fixed charge offence. However other laws do include it as an offence.
- Article 11 of the Road Traffic (Traffic and Parking) (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 2012 prohibits you from cycling beyond a traffic sign that prohibits bicycles
- Article 13 of the 1997 Regulations makes it an offence to cycle on a footpath unless you are entering or exiting a property
- Article 45 of the 1997 Regulations (as amended by the Road Traffic (Traffic and Parking) (Amendment) Regulations 1998), you must not cycle in a pedestrianised street or area during the period indicated by the sign
Although it is not a fixed charge offence to cycle on a footpath a cyclist could be fined for doing so if a Garda deemed their cycling to be without ’reasonable consideration‘.
Is there a legal alcohol limit for cycling?
If a Garda suspects you are cycling under the influence of alcohol or drugs to the point that you do not have proper control of the bike, you can be arrested without a warrant. This is also the case if a Garda has reasonable grounds to suspect you are riding a stolen bike.