Thursday 8 December 2016

'I stay safe in the city by assuming everyone is an idiot', says cyclist (63)

Laura Larkin

Published 14/01/2016 | 08:41

Vincent Farrelly
Vincent Farrelly

A Dublin man who has been cycling for 54 years has called for better training, for all road users, to promote cyclist safety.

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Vincent Farrelly (63) cycles 81 miles a week, commuting from his home in Santry to his workplace in Ballymount in west Dublin.

During his daily journeys he said he sees dozens of road offences, including drivers on their mobile phones and cyclists running red lights.

Despite the penalty of a €50 fine for a range of cycling offences coming into force last year, Mr Farrelly said he hasn't noticed any improvement among the behaviour of cyclists in the capital.

During his half a century biking around the capital the Dubliner has had two serious collisions, including one that left him hospitalised.

Near-misses

However he has had several more near-misses when on his bike in the city.

"I agree that Dublin is not a cycling-friendly city; understanding from all transport users for all other's plight is what is needed," he said.

"Cyclists should know and obey the rules of the road - and I know they don't."

"For example cyclists need to be trained to know that if you can't see a bus driver in his mirror then he can't see you.

"But there is no education - a kid gets a bicycle and then he is off," he added.

"For anyone who gets a bike there should be some sort of apparatus that they have to learn the rules of the road, even if they got a book."

Mr Farrelly said he has a number of 'bugbears' when it comes to cyclists behaving improperly on the road, which he encounters regularly on his travels.

"People cycle down one-way streets, they cycle on footpaths. I don't know if it's a fear factor or if its ignorance. I think it is ignorance because they don't know the rules of the road and they don't care," he said.

"One morning I saw a man in front of me breaking eight sets of lights before he stopped at one junction," he recalled.

"There seems to be this society out there that thinks as long as we just let it go it's fine, and it's getting worse.

"My wife, who is 64, has nearly stopped cycling now because she's been pushed off the road so many times by cars."

Mr Farrelly believes extra gardai are also needed on the roads to police road offences committed by both drivers and cyclists.

The money raised from fines handed out for road traffic offences would cover the cost of having gardai on the street he said.

Another key issue for cyclists is using safety gear and reflective clothing, Mr Farrelly said.

"You can buy reflective gear for as little as a fiver, there is no excuse for people not to wear reflective gear and have lights on their bike," he continued.

The motor yard operator said that despite improvements to cycling facilities, many of the bike lanes around Dublin are inadequate.

"I think some of them are absolutely stupid because they are decided by car drivers to get cyclists off the road," he said.

"They're certainly not designed for cyclists.

"I think segregated cycle paths for cyclists is the only way to go, rather than a cheap white line on a footpath that just means 'walkers beware'."

In some cases the cycle lanes in place leave certain cyclists with no option but to break the rules of the road to stay safe.

Secret

After thousands of trips on his bike Mr Farrelly has a secret to keeping safe.

"I treat everyone as an idiot," he revealed.

"I have to drive in defensive mode as a cyclist."

Though cyclists do have a tendency "to get up the nose of car drivers", Mr Farrelly also said it is a two-way street.

There is also vast room for improvement among drivers to understand how to keep cyclists safe, Mr Farrelly said.

"Drivers need to understand that if a cyclist is in the lane and you need to turn left, they can't accelerate. You have to wait, you can't just blow them out of it," he explained.

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