Opinion: Cycling In The City

By Mary Kate Hickey

Living within walking distance of the city centre, I could write a book on some of the things I’ve seen on my daily commute.  

A lot of these stories involve cyclists, and with a record number of 11,000 commuters pedaling their way into the city every day – according to Dublin City Council and the National Transport Authority’s (NTA) annual traffic count – it’s no wonder.

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(Source: Mary Kate Hickey)

Cycling in Dublin quite frankly scares me, and I personally don’t see myself ever attempting it.  That said cyclists in Dublin also terrify me – they zoom along between cars and buses, on pedestrian walkways and can regularly be seen running red lights.  

I don’t hate cyclists but rather have a strong dislike; simply because so many find it difficult to adhere to the rules of the road.  My main issue with cyclists is the lack of respect they have for pedestrians, and pedestrian walkways.

I’ve had many personal experiences with this. Most memorably, I was walking across Millennium Bridge when a man pulled out in front of me on his bike, nearly knocking me over – something many Dubliners have experienced.  By the time I composed myself enough to tell him that he was cycling on a pedestrianised bridge, he was already cycling the wrong way down the Quays.  

Another seemingly common trait amongst cyclists is their habit of breaking red lights, having no concern for themselves or others in doing so.  A friend of mine recently told me a story when she was crossing the road with her child, a cyclist breaking the traffic lights almost hit her child in her stroller.  The lights are there not only for the safety of pedestrians, but for drivers and cyclists too. Had there been traffic going in another direction, that cyclist put themselves and others at risk, all for the sake of saving a minute or two.

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Cyclists on Millennium Bridge. (Source: Mary Kate Hickey)

As well as this sheer lack of concern for others, some cyclists seem to have very little concerns for their own safety.  Many cyclists in the city forego wearing a helmet, to protect themselves if they are unfortunate enough to get in an accident.  A lot of cyclists also never wear high-vis gear, or have lights on their bikes, making them invisible to drivers and pedestrians, especially at night.  

With cyclists sometimes choosing not to use the cycle lanes, drivers have to be vigilant and look on both sides of their vehicle for them. Without lights, and high-vis gear, this makes the drivers’ job to see them a lot more difficult.

With the volume of cyclists on the roads, going down one way streets in the opposite direction might save time – but I’ve often seen cyclists going the wrong way on one way streets, again putting themselves in danger.

The final thing that annoys me about cyclists is the sense of entitlement they have over the road.  Many cyclists seem to think they can cycle wherever they like, whenever they like and not follow the rules of the road.  The rules are there for the safety of everyone, and I think if everyone followed them correctly the roads of this city would be a safer place.

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