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Two-thirds of drunken cyclists get off scot-free

DRUNKEN cyclists are routinely escaping convictions even if they are caught red handed by gardai.

A handful of cyclists are being stopped every year for taking to the roads after consuming alcohol, but the majority will never face a conviction of any sort.

Just one-in-five cyclists arrested by gardai for dangerous behaviour are actually convicted, the Herald can reveal.

A Dublin TD says that many cyclists are putting lives in "grave danger" but are getting away scot-free compared to motorists.

Between 2006 and June 2009, 97 people were arrested for cycling on the country's roads while drunk.

However, according to Central Statistic Office figures just 33 were actually convicted.

In the same period, 106 people were stopped by gardai for careless cycling but just 20 were prosecuted in court.

And a further 44 were taken into custody for dangerous cycling but only 12 of those faced conviction.

The same trend continues in relation to the other main cycling offences, such as cycling on the wrong side of the road, on a motorway and with no brakes or no lights.

Dublin South East TD Chris Andrews told the Herald: "It's crucial that cyclists adhere to the rules of the road and do not put their safety or the safety of others in danger."

A significant investment has been made in recent years to upgrade the city's cycle paths and the introduction of the much-criticised 30kph speed limits earlier this year was cited as a cyclist-safety measure.

However, motorists have repeatedly complained that cyclists are ignoring red lights, and weaving through traffic.

The figures, obtained by Deputy Andrews, show that gardai initiated proceedings against 16 people in the first six months of 2009 for cycling while drunk, compared to 19 cases for the whole of 2008.

"This is very alarming as the full year figures for 2009, which are not yet available, could show a substantial increase on the previous year," said the TD.

"Even more of a concern to me is that fact that less than a third of the cases from the first half of 2009 resulted in a conviction and just two people were convicted in the whole of 2008."

Only 105 of 531 cyclists caught without either a front or rear light in the three and half years covered by the figures were convicted.

kdoyle@herald.ie