Some cy­clists need to cop on and cy­cle more care­fully on our roads

Bray People - - OPINION - Fr Michael Com­mane

ON Sun­day morn­ing about 10.00 I was driv­ing the car on a dual car­riage­way, head­ing for a round­about over a mo­tor­way. There was a group of cy­clists ahead of me, prob­a­bly about 15 to 20. They were cy­cling across the road and there was no hurry on them to move over to the hard shoul­der.

We all stopped at the traf­fic lights on the round­about. They were still tak­ing up one full lane of the dual car­riage­way. I opened the win­dow, and hon­estly, in a po­lite tone of voice, sug­gested to them that it would be a bet­ter idea if they moved in a lit­tle. I added that I have been cy­cling for 60 years and that the last thing I am is anti-cy­clist.

They were hav­ing none of it, as I imag­ined and they shouted some un-pleas­antries back at me. The lights changed to green, I rolled up the win­dow and we all moved off.

Like ev­ery­thing else in life ‘our crowd’ is al­ways vy­ing with ‘ their crowd’. And so it is on the roads. Cy­clists are in dis­pute with cars, driv­ers of cars, buses and trucks are for­ever giv­ing out about cy­clists and then the pedes­tri­ans are up in arms with all the other road users. And in turn all the oth­ers are con­stantly be­rat­ing pedes­tri­ans.

As I have said, I’m cy­cling for 60 years and have been us­ing the bi­cy­cle as a means of com­mut­ing to school and work since I was 12. The rule at home was that we could cy­cle to school when we went to sec­ondary school but be­cause of a bus strike in Dublin the year I was in sixth class in pri­mary school Mum al­lowed me to cy­cle to school a lit­tle bit early.

I could not imag­ine a 12-year-old cy­cling th­ese days in the morn­ing traf­fic of the busy streets of Dublin or any large conur­ba­tion. I’d worry for them.

I’m clearly par­ti­san when it comes to the war of the roads. I’m on the side of the cy­clists. I have a bias in favour of bi­cy­cle users. But my pa­tience is run­ning thin with the cy­clist com­mu­nity and it’s hap­pen­ing at great speed.

What is it about ev­ery­thing we do we seem to have an amaz­ing propen­sity to screw things up. Cy­cling can be fan­tas­tic and yet right now hordes of cy­cling clowns, yes clowns, have de­scended on our roads and are mak­ing it all so dan­ger­ous.

They come in all shapes and forms. They have swapped their four by fours for two wheel­ers and then there is the ly­cra bri­gade but they are not mu­tu­ally ex­clu­sive groups.

I like to head out for work on my bike, tak­ing my time and us­ing the op­por­tu­nity to ob­serve what’s hap­pen­ing about me and also to think and yes, dare I say, even mut­ter a prayer.

Th­ese days it’s as if I’m head­ing out into some fre­netic rac­ing track where peo­ple are cy­cling at ex­tra­or­di­nary speeds, pass­ing out on the inside, whizzing but so close that the tini­est wob­ble could mean bro­ken bones. And then that cy­cling on paths and ped­alling the wrong way on oneway streets.

As for stop­ping at traf­fic lights, that seems to be a no-no for far too many. Where is An Garda Siochána? And go­ing through red lights is not ex­clu­sive to the ly­cra bri­gade. It seems ‘ they are all at it’, at least large num­bers.

There’s go­ing to be a lot of tears spilt be­fore we cy­clists cop on and cy­cle more care­fully.

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