Sinn Féin councillor for Dundalk-South Tomas Sharkey has suggested a novel solution to prevent collisions between pedestrians and cyclists on footpaths in the county – banning ‘two-ear’ earphones from being worn while walking.
The representative made the suggestion during Tuesday’s quarterly Dundalk Joint Policing Committee forum whilst discussing the ongoing issue of cyclists using footpaths, posing a danger to themselves and pedestrians.
Independent councillor Maeve Yore asked that the council and An Garda Siochana liaise on a local media awareness campaign and also asked that local Gardai in Dundalk take part in a walkabout to identify areas of concern and issues arising. Cllr Yore told the meeting she was nearly knocked down five times on a recent walk from her home along the Avenue Road.
“It is definitely an issue we are aware of it. It is something that has caused a lot of difficulty for all pedestrians – but especially for vulnerable people and the elderly,” Dundalk Garda Superintendent Gerry Curley said.
Cllr Sharkey inquired whether there was a bylaw that could prohibit the use of bicycles in certain areas in the town.
“We’re talking about a shared use of the pathways by bicycles and pedestrians. Is there any law or bylaw that the Gardai can enforce on the matter or do we as a council chamber have to go off and write a new set of bylaws?” he asked.
“Perhaps we need to ban the use of ‘two’ earphones by pedestrians because that seems to be where some of the danger to pedestrians from cyclists is – because they can’t hear the bells on these bikes.”
Director of Services for Louth County Council Paddy Donnelly confirmed that cycling on a footpath is already an offence. “If we were to start looking at bylaws to prohibit cyclists on footpaths, that’s already prohibited by law.”
Mr Donnelly said that there may needs to be a greater emphasis on educating the general public about laws preventing them from cycling on footpaths.
Garda Chief Superintendent for Louth Christy Mangan said: “Cycling on the footpath is an offence. We’ll get out there and tell people, give them an information period of time and then we’ll prosecute people for cycling on the footpath.”
Article 13 of the 1997 Regulations makes it an offence to cycle on a footpath unless you are entering or exiting a property, although cycling on a footpath is not a fixed charge offence.