News Analysis

Friday 29 August 2014

Liam Collins: On your bike to all the bad manners and ignorance of rules of the road

Dublin's cyclists have been breaking the rules for decades, says but standards are now at an abysmal level

Published 06/01/2013 | 05:00

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Since the Dublinbikes scheme came into effect a couple of years ago the standard of cycling in the city has deteriorated to a dangerous level.

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Bad and all as cyclists were beforehand there is now shocking and abysmal ignorance of the rules of good behaviour, with cyclists breaking lights, going up one-way streets the wrong way, cycling on the footpath and generally ignoring the rules of the road and good manners.

I should know, I've been cycling in Dublin since the 1980s and I've yet to see a garda actually stop a cyclist committing any of these illegal acts in more than three decades.

The only good thing that can be said about the official Dublinbikes is that at least they have lights, because the majority of the cycling population seem to prefer not to bother with such accoutrements, regarding them as either unnecessary or simply silly.

After reading a press release from Labour TD Kevin Humphreys on the proposal for 'on-the-spot fines' for cyclists, I began to wonder if I live in a parallel universe.

"The vast majority of cyclists obey and honour the rules of the road ... " he maintains.

Well I cycle through his Dublin constituency every day and I can assure him that the opposite is the case – the vast majority of cyclists show a healthy and at time reckless disregard for the rules of the road, their own safety and the safety of others.

Of course the Dublin obsession with having traffic lights every 20 yards or so doesn't help. This desire by councillors to have traffic lights at every junction and roundabout is farcical and comes back to politicians desire to 'get' whatever constituents want, money is no object – whether something is useful is irrelevant.

But we could waste our time discussing what can be done when one of the simple things that cyclists could do is to just have some regard for other road-users.

With the Dublinbikes scheme and the Cycle to Work scheme there has been a welcome upsurge in cyclists in the city and the countryside. But this has not been matched by any attempt on the part of cyclists to behave themselves in a civilised fashion.

It is time for on-the-spot fines, but it is also time the gardai began to enforce the regulations that are already there.

But like most things in Ireland we clamour for new legislation to deal with a problem that could easily be dealt with in the conventional way. Bicycles should be regarded as dangerous weapons, and some of the people who use them, like couriers should be regarded as dangerous and serial offenders.

Oh and by the way it isn't only cyclists who break red lights. Virtually every time I stop at traffic lights at least two to three cars go through the red light.

Sunday Independent

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