Set the wheels in motion to extend your life cycle
Published 08/03/2010 | 05:00
Ireland is undergoing something of a cycling revolution as thousands more people get on their bikes, often through economic necessity.
A spokesman for Dublin City Council confirmed that in the capital the numbers who have signed up for their Dublin Bikes scheme have soared from 2,000 in September to a current level of more than 25,000.
This is in contrast to the 2006 boom-time census when just 1.9pc of adults were using bikes for work, college or other activities.
The Dublin scheme allows registered users to pick up a bike at one station and use it before returning it to another.
It's a cheering sight to see so many stations across the city half empty -- even on chilly days -- and as the weather improves it is set to grow in popularity.
Long-term membership costs €10 and short term is €2. The first 30 minutes is free and the next half-hour costs €0.50, with a scale of charges applying after that.
These scenes of people peddling away are repeated across the country with new bike shops opening to cater for the demand.
Hopefully, year-end figures won't show any rise in bike casualties but, as is already clear to pedestrians and motorists, many of these born-again cyclists are taking too many chances with their own and others' safety.
If cyclists observe basic safety tips they can drastically reduce their chances of an accident and still enjoy their peddling.
- Be visible -- wear bright or fluorescent clothing in daylight or poor light, and reflective clothing at night. Always use lights after dark.
- Don't cycle too close to the kerb -- give yourself space on the left. By moving further into the road you'll avoid drain covers and roadside debris. You'll also help drivers think more carefully about when it's safe to pass.
- Protect yourself -- always wear a helmet as this reduces the risk of head injury if you're in an accident.
- Make your intentions clear -- show drivers what you plan to do in plenty of time and when it's safe to do so. Always look and signal before you start, stop or turn.
- Use good manners -- play it safe and don't weave in and out of traffic or change direction suddenly without signalling.
- Use cycle lanes and make a note of where they are, even if this extends your journey.
- Give pedestrians priority -- remember some pedestrians may be partially sighted or deaf and may not be aware of your presence.
- Never cycle through red lights or pedestrian crossings. You may not be aware of cars coming from another direction.
- Don't cycle on pavements -- if you feel the traffic is hazardous get off the bike and wheel it along the footpath.
Of course it is not all one-way traffic, and the Irish cyclist advocacy groups have formed a new body called Cyclist.ie to raise the profile of cyclist issues and campaign for action.
It has presented a plan to Transport Minister Noel Dempsey including demands for safer roads and new traffic regulations.