Lately, Rob Farrell has noticed a lot of motorbikes in the cycle lanes on his commute from Blackrock to Fitzwilliam Square.
“I cycle a lot. It’s strange, I only really noticed it in the last three months,” he says.
A couple of times, the bikes brushed close to him, without warning that they were headed into the cycle lane. If he’d been going a bit faster he says, it could have caused issues.
It’s hard to say for sure whether this is a growing issue, but other cyclists also say they have noticed more motorbikes veering in the bus lanes and onto cycle tracks.
There are also issues around the rapid growth of “micro-vehicles”, says Green Party Councillor Ciarán Cuffe, and how equipped slow lawmakers are to respond to those.
Mike McKillen of the Dublin Cycling Campaign says he too has noticed more motorbikes in cycle lanes recently.
“More vehicles on the road are putting pressure on the entire system. Last week, I saw a motorbike on the cycle path right outside a Garda station,” McKillen said.
That isn’t legal, in most cases. Cycle lanes and tracks are reserved for bicycles, not motorcycles, says a spokesperson for the Road Safety Authority.
If a cycle lane has a broken, rather than a solid, white line then other drivers may make “temporary use of it”, if there isn’t a cyclist using it.
It’s up to An Garda Síochána to enforce the rules around who uses cycle lanes, said the spokesperson.
An Garda Síochána and the Department of Transport didn’t respond to queries about how this is monitored and enforced, and how many penalties were issued for the misuse of cycle lanes in the last couple of years. Or about any plans for future regulations. Neither did Dublin City Council.
There are penalty points and fines when a non-pedal bike uses a cycle lane, said the RSA’s spokesperson.
Driving on a cycle track incurs 1 penalty point on payment, or 3 on conviction. It also incurs a charge of €60 on payment within 28 days, or €90 if paid within the next 28 days, they said.
The city is struggling to keep up with new technology, says Cuffe. “It’s changing so fast.”
That’s especially the case when it comes to “micro-carriers”, he says. This includes electric scooters, unicycles, and skateboards.
It can be intimidating when a motorbike uses the bike lane, says Cuffe. There needs to be a public debate around the issue of who can use the cycle lanes.
One fix might be different lanes for different speeds, says Cuffe. Electric scooters, mopeds and electric and pedal bikes could use the same lane if they stick to the same speed. Pedestrians, meanwhile, could have a slower lane.
“Realistically, we’re dependent on An Garda Síochána to make sure the right users are in these lanes,” he says.
But they’re stretched for resources, he says. “We need a dedicated traffic corps in Dublin for parking issues.”
Neither Cuffe nor Farrell take issue with smaller vehicles in the cycle lanes, they say. But both believe motorbikes should be monitored.