Cycling, once the preserve of the working classes, was a mode of transport that got you from point A to B efficiently and cheaply.
Now you have a plethora of rocket-propelled cyclists who come at you like a bat out of hell and expect you to get out of the way or be mown down.
What was once a relatively leisurely pursuit has become a dangerous pastime since the arrival of middle-aged men (and women) in Lycra.
Celebrity Simon Cowell badly injured himself when he went over the handlebars of his electric bike… for the second time in 18 months. The music mogul broke an arm and suffered concussion when he hit the road at an estimated 30kmh while cycling near his mansion in west London last Thursday.
While I take no pleasure in anybody’s fall, even Mr Cowell’s, I’m surprised there aren’t more self-inflicted injuries on the roads and bicycle lanes, given the speed and behaviour of many modern cyclists.
I bought my first High Nelly from a bicycle dealer in Water Street, Longford, when it was neither popular nor profitable. I’ve been cycling the highways and byways and the city streets ever since.
But in the last five years things have changed dramatically for ordinary peace-loving cyclists.
On the plus side are the proliferation of cycle lanes and a new awareness among (most) drivers that they don’t own the road.
But on the negative side are other cyclists.
The most dangerous, to themselves and others, are the Lycra brigade with what I call ‘Tour de France envy’ who bomb along the roads and cycle lanes at 40/50kmh (and faster in some cases) without any regard for other cyclists or pedestrians.
They wear helmets, unlike myself and Mr Cowell, but otherwise don’t seem to realise just how vulnerable they are without any other form of protection, or the danger they are to themselves and others as they weave in and out of the traffic. The same goes for the new e-bike brigade.
The other group who irk the hell out of me are those people on a variety of e-scooters with two tiny wheels, mostly ill-lit and going at speeds in urban areas that are akin to those of cars, trucks and buses.
Then there are the millennials, with their huge Dutch-style bikes to carry the young family in a cart-like crate in front of the bike. Fair enough, they are entitled to their share of the road, but not to block all the other traffic that also needs to
For far too long, cyclists and car drivers have been competing with each other for road space.
The car drivers whinge about cyclists breaking the lights, while cyclists complain that drivers seem to have no compunction about running them off the road.
With better bicycle lanes, this debate should be redundant.
Cyclists and car drivers in Ireland break the traffic lights with equal abandon – and, to be fair to motorists, a good cross-section of cyclists have no manners when it comes to other road users.
What people on bikes, particularly the cyclists on steroids, need to get into their heads is that they have no more of a God-given right to the road than anybody else.
They also need to realise just what a dangerous world it is out there.
The perils of cycling include people who just don’t see you – it’s not really their fault, you are just totally invisible to them.
There are also those who open the passenger door of their car in traffic – and if you are not paying attention, you’ll be taken out.
Or a motorist does a left-hand turn and expects a cyclist to somehow take the turn with them, or make some other arrangement – unless they want to end up sprawled on the road.
Most of all, cyclists need to realise that just because you are in the right doesn’t mean you won’t end up clogging up the A&E department of your local hospital.
Simon Cowell is obviously a smart guy; look at all the money he’s made. But that doesn’t mean he is any safer than the rest of us when he mounts his bicycle.