Thursday 17 October 2019

One-sided comments simply gloss over the faults of drivers

15-05-2013. Heather Boyle, Cycling Ireland, Newtown MountKennedy, Co Wicklow. Picture: Garry O'Neill
15-05-2013. Heather Boyle, Cycling Ireland, Newtown MountKennedy, Co Wicklow. Picture: Garry O'Neill

Heather Boyle

IT HAS been hard to ignore the recent renaissance in cycling – with more people taking the bike to work or enjoying it as a hobby.

Cycling is now the fastest growing activity in Ireland, with an increase of more than 300pc in our membership in four years, and over 300 cycling clubs active around the country.

This increased volume of cyclists on the road has brought with it a new infrastructure dilemma. On many Irish roads, the layout does not cater for easily shared space between motorists and cyclists. This can cause friction and poor judgment by both.

TD Finian McGrath has expressed his frustration with cyclists, referring to a "Speedy Gonzales" type who break the rules of the road and who "arrogantly believe that they are cool, clean heroes in contrast to motorists who are polluting the country".

While Mr McGrath is not alone in his opinion, his broad generalisations are disappointing.

The motorist-versus-cyclist debate is not a new one. The danger of comments like those of Mr McGrath is that they are very one-sided. It is unfair to tar cyclists with one brush, while ignoring the similar faults of motorists.

Cycling Ireland, and all cycling advocate groups, believes that cyclists and motorists should all obey the rules of the road.

The difference between motorists breaking the rules of the road and cyclists breaking them is that, in either instance, it is the safety of the cyclist that is most at risk.

Mr McGrath, while making a general statement, did highlight one real benefit of cycling. It is far better for the environment than driving. Ireland also benefits economically, with businesses flourishing thanks to cycling. There are more than 300 bike shops nationwide and the industry is worth over €260m per year, according to the Irish Bicycle Business Association.

With National Bike Week just four weeks away, I would like to invite Mr McGrath to join Cycling Ireland at our Sprocket Rocket festival of cycling in St Anne's Park, Raheny, on June 15. Perhaps he will be inspired to take to two wheels himself.

Heather Boyle is programmes co-ordinator and PR for Cycling Ireland

Irish Independent

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