Dublin could emulate Spanish city Seville, where 80km of new cycling infrastructure was developed in the last decade and the number of cyclists increased from 6,000 to 70,000 a day, according to Fianna Fáil.

The party's transport spokesperson Robert Troy launched new measures aimed at increasing participation in cycling in Ireland today.

The Westmeath TD advocates the appointment of 'cycling officers' to every local authority. He also suggested that motorists who park in cycle lands should be issued with penalty points and a fine.

He said: "Cycling is growing in popularity rapidly. In the last 10 years, the membership of Cycling Ireland has increased by almost 700%. In the five years between 2011 and 2016, there was a 43% increase in the number of people who cycled to work in Dublin city and suburbs."

But he questioned the Government's commitment to supporting cycling.

He claimed spending on cycling infrastructure has fallen sharply in the last three years, and Ireland's cycling infrastructure is "woefully underdeveloped".

He pointed out that 15 cyclists lost their lives last year and said there needs to be greater emphasis placed on ensuring there is safer cycling. 

He added: "One of the key proposals in this document is to ensure that we legislate for the minimum passing distance of 1.5 metres and one metre in urban settings. 

"As a party we put forward an amendment to the Road Traffic Bill last December. On the day it was due to be debated, Minister [Shane] Ross called a press conference and said that he was bringing forward a statutory instrument and would do so within weeks.

"Six months have passed and we are still waiting on that statutory instrument to be signed. In September this year, we will bring forward our own legislation in relation to minimum passing distance," said Mr Troy.

However, Minister for Transport Shane Ross said there are legal difficulties in introducing a minimum passing distance law and he is looking at other ways of protecting cyclists.

The minister had pledged in February to introduce a law that would require motorists to keep a minimum distance away from the cyclists when passing them.

The distance on roads with a speed limit above 50km/h would be 1.5 metres and on those where the limit is lower it would be one metre.

Minimum passing distance laws apply in more than 40 jurisdictions around the world.

But speaking to journalists today Mr Ross said there are difficulties in the Attorney General's office over introducing such a law here and he is now looking at other ways of doing it.

He said he is determined that the same protection will be given to cyclists either by legislation or by other means.

Fianna Fáil wants to increase the availability of physically segregated cycle lanes and establish a Specialist Cycling Division within the National Transport Authority.

Mr Troy added: "We want to see bike storage facilities at all major transport hubs such as Heuston and Connolly Stations and Busáras. 

Dublin South-West TD John Lahart said statistics from the CSO, Dublin City Council and other groups "clearly demonstrate that cycling has gone mainstream and it is not just a niche area". 

He added: "If you look at a city like Seville. Just ten years ago it took a political decision that they were going to provide safe segregated cycling. They provided 80kms of connected safe segregated cycling areas within the city. They did it within ten years and cycling [grew] from 6,000 a day to 70,000 a day." 

Fianna Fáil is also proposing the expansion of the bike-sharing schemes to include more suburbs and areas; reducing the VAT payable on bicycle repair; and the expansion of the Bike-to-Work Scheme and allow people avail of it every three years instead of five years.

Additional reporting: Conor McMorrow