Cyclists in Ireland are having a hard time of it

Ireland law on high-vis for cyclists

Cyclists in Eire and Northern Ireland are having a hard time of it.

First came the news this summer that electrically-assisted bicycles in Northern Ireland have no legal classification and as a result are considered in law to be little different from mopeds and as such require insurance, and MOT and VED to be paid. Over the border, the transport minister has called for high-visibility clothing to be compulsory for cyclists.

Neither situation has a rational justification. In the case of the electric bicycle classification, whilst there have been no reports of prosecution, the current situation places the riders of electric bicycles in a legal limbo. For our part here at The ETA, we can reassure our customers in Northern Ireland that their electric bicycles that their cover remains unaffected. As many countries around the world discover the environmental benefits of electric bicycles – particularly as a means of encouraging modal shift from cars to bikes – we hope that Northern Ireland quickly falls into line.

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  1. Mary Fisher


    Hi Vis clothing for cyclists makes sense. Too many wear all dark clothing (and some with no lights). They can be very difficult to see.

    You concentrate on the insurance of electric bikes and don’t comment on the Hi Vis matter even though the accompanying picture is about such clothing.

    • The ETA


      There is research to suggest that high-vis clothing is not as effective as it is assumed to be. The reason is that it depends very much on the surroundings and light conditions. The researchers found that contrast is the thing that get you noticed – not necessarily day-glow colours. But that isn’t the only reason that making high-vis clothing for cyclists mandatory is daft – followed to its logical conclusion, the law would see pedestrians having to wear it too. Most importantly of all though is that the road danger that drives calls for this type of legislation is caused almost entirely by motorised traffic. If drivers can’t see what is in front of them on the roads, they are driving too fast.

      • Ian Homer


        ….or those drivers are not paying attention. In such cases cyclists can and indeed do get hit, often from behind. It may be sensible to wear bright and indeed contrasty colours and have reflectives on at night but it is going too far to make it mandatory: it’s just victim blaming waiting to happen and in the case of motor insurance companies an easy cop out using contributory negligence as an argument ( see case of Churchill vs that poor girl, who is now disabled, walking on a verge who has her payments reduced on appeal as that outfit argued that she wasn’t visible never mind their insured driver going off the road into her).

  2. Mat


    The idea of of making cyclists wear high vis is certainly not ‘daft’ as you commented. I do agree that during the day particularly sunny days solid and not too light colours stand out best. If however you are cycling in low light conditions the law and common sense should dictate you use lights and high vis. Whilst I’m aware it’s already law to fit reflectors and use lights at night in my experience of night cycling one in three people don’t have either so maybe the police need to start stopping people!
    My cycling can vary from 10 mile commute to all day rides and I have lights fitted permanently (you never know when the sky’s will go black with a thunderstorm! ) and even on the sunniest of days I carry a high vis tabard that weighs very little and packs down to nothing.
    Maybe you should give some tabards away with your policies you might get less claims!

  3. David Beacham


    I usually wear hi viz and it makes little real difference if the drivers are travelling too fast/not paying attention/arrogant/aggressive etc. We should not be putting the emphasis on the victim, as was said above do you expect pedestrians/children/horses/trees/rocks/cattle and so on also to wear hi viz? It is akin to making everyone wear a bullet proof vest when there is someone with a gun rather than tackling the perpetrator. Very few cyclists on the continent wear it and have fewer accidents than the UK due to generally more care from the drivers. The amount of bikes out there helps to make people more aware of them. Unlike the dickhead that just overtook me about a foot from my elbow at 50 mph, nothing will have much affect when they think it is either funny or that you should not be on the road. I am only just calming down and my legs have stopped shaking.

  4. Tim Rutherford


    There are obviously times when wearing hi-viz is sensible for a cyclist. The question here tho’ is whether it should be mandatory. I think ETA is correct to say that is daft. Hi-viz is not always effective, the adequacy of different garments could not be assessed, and it would not be policed. As with cycle helmets, how many people would it deter from cycling if it was mandatory? Again, as with day-running lights, I am sure that the effectiveness of such measures reduces as they become more commonly adopted.
    As a cyclist, car driver and motorcyclist, I try to remember just how much responsibility I have to see you, and respect your right to be on the road. It cannot, ultimately, be your legal responsibility to be seen by me.
    I could argue that owning a black or dark blue car is just as dumb as a cyclist in a black jacket, in low light conditions, but our unfortunate choice of jacket or car colour on any particular morning possibly can’t be helped. However, if I’m driving my car, I’m still the one in charge of the most potentially lethal weapon out there. The responsibilities of cyclists and pedestrians towards me should therefore be kept in perspective.

  5. Colin


    Should go hand in hand with making the wearing of a Cycle helmet Law and compulsory. Help save the NHS money by people wearing basic equipment that helps save Lives. The Hi viz/ reflective law should apply to everything on the ROAD that is either of a disproportionate in size or speed to other ROAD users.

  6. Yannick Read


    Telling cyclists to wear high-viz to protect them from drivers is little different from telling women to avoid short skirts and cover up to protect them from attack. Both are examples of institutionalised victim blaming

  7. LF


    I disagree as:
    1. I have a yellow reflective/hi viz vest and it doesn’t make any difference in day. Occasionally it does at night. But I recommend hi viz/reflective gloves as then drivers see your signals a lot better
    2. If it’s sunny it is same colour so it could get camouflaged.

    But I agree with cycling helmet law

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