If you are cycling it is important that you are aware of the laws in place regarding cycling and the penalties in place if you break the law. The Road Traffic Acts 1961-2014 set out the main provisions for motoring and legislate for bicycles as well as mechanically propelled vehicles and trailers. There is also secondary legislation which regulates the behaviour of motorists and cyclists.
As well as those regulating cyclist behaviour, there are regulations setting out the equipment a bicycle must have.
Under the Road Traffic (Lighting of Vehicles) Regulations 1963 a bicycle ridden in a public place during lighting-up hours must be equipped with a rear red reflector, and with front and rear lights that can be seen from a reasonable distance. The front light must be white or yellow, while the rear light must be red. It is legal to use flashing lights. You can find more information in our document on lighting of bicycles.
Under the Road Traffic (Construction, Equipment and Use of Vehicles) Regulations 1963 a bicycle used in a public place must be fitted with a bell capable of being heard at a reasonable distance. It must also be equipped with brakes, one for the front wheel and another for the rear wheel.
Your bicycle and its equipment must be in good working order. Under Section 20 of the Road Traffic Act 1961, if a Garda, having tested your bicycle, has reasonable grounds for believing that your bicycle has a dangerous defect, the Garda may instruct you not to ride the bicycle in a public place until the defect is remedied. If you fail to do as requested, you are committing an offence.
When cycling you must obey the rules set out in the Road Traffic Acts and Road Traffic (Traffic and Parking) Regulations 1997-2014.
For example, 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 14 of the Road Traffic (Traffic and Parking) Regulations 1997 (as substituted by the 2012 Regulations) provides for the use of cycle lanes. If the cycle lane is a contra-flow cycle lane, you can only cycle in the contra-flow direction on it. Article 13 of the 1997 Regulations makes it an offence to cycle on a footpath unless you are entering or exiting a property. Under 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 on the information plate accompanying the pedestrianised street or area traffic sign, unless you are cycling on a cycle lane.
Like other road users, cyclists must obey the rules applying to traffic lights, pedestrian crossings, zebra crossings and cycle traffic lights. You must stop at stop signs and yield right of way at yield signs.
Under Article 47 of the 1997 Regulations (as substituted by the 2012 Regulations), you must not cycle more than 2 abreast, except when overtaking and it does not endanger or obstruct other traffic. You can overtake a vehicle on the left where the vehicles to your right are stationary or are moving slower than you, except when the vehicle to be overtaken:
- Has signalled an intention to turn to the left and will execute the movement 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
Section 100 of the Road Traffic Act 1961 makes it an offence to ride a bicycle while holding on to another moving vehicle (other than another bicycle which no one is riding).
A Garda can ask for your name, address and date of birth if you are suspected of:
- Having committed an offence
- Having been involved in a collision or other event in a public place causing injury or damage
If you refuse to give your details or give details which the Garda believes to be false or misleading, the Garda can take your bicycle and retain it until such time as your identity is proven.
A Garda can arrest you without a warrant:
- If you are riding a bicycle while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs so that you do not have proper control of the bicycle
- If the Garda has reasonable grounds for believing that you are riding a bicycle without the owner’s consent
If you are charged with a cycling offence, you will have to attend court. In general, if you are guilty of a cycling offence, you are liable on summary conviction:
- In the case of a first offence to a class D fine
- In the case of a second or subsequent such offence to a class C fine
In the case of 3 or more such offences in a 12-month period you are liable to a class C fine or to imprisonment for up to 3 months, or to both a fine and imprisonment.
If you are convicted of riding a bicycle while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, you are liable on summary conviction to a class C fine.
Fixed charge offences
Under the Road Traffic (Fixed Charges Offences – Cyclists) Regulations 2015 (pdf) certain cycling offences have been declared to be fixed charge offences. The fixed charge system allows someone who has been detected committing a fixed charge offence to pay a fixed charge or fine as an alternative to going to court to answer the offence. The fixed charge for a cycling offence is set at €40.
Since 31 July 2015 the cycling offences to which a fixed charge applies are:
- No front or rear light during lighting-up hours
- Riding a bicycle without reasonable consideration
- Failing to stop for a school warden sign
- Failing to stop at traffic lights when the red lamp is lit
- Failing to stop at cycle traffic lights when the red lamp is lit
- Failing to stop at a stop line, barrier or half barrier at a railway level crossing, swing bridge or lifting bridge, when the red lamps are flashing.
- Cycling in a pedestrianised street or area
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 still unpaid after a further 28 days then court proceedings are initiated.
If you misplace, lose or damage your fixed charge notice, you should contact the Garda Fixed Charge Processing Office (see ‘Where to apply’ below). 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 the fixed charge notice is paid within the legal time limits and court proceedings are not commenced, you will not have a criminal record in respect of the offence.
Where to apply