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Saturday 3 December 2016

Dublin is a hostile city towards cyclists, but it is still the best way to travel

Cycling

Cyclist Damien O'Tuama
Cyclist Damien O'Tuama

As a bike user, I believe Dublin's streets are still "hostile" to cyclists.

I have been cycling in Dublin for between 20 and 30 years, ever since I was a schoolboy.

Yesterday, I cycled through Harold's Cross on my usual journey to work. My route from the Kimmage Cross Road into Patrick's Street near Saint Patrick's Cathedral took around 15 minutes. It would take 40 minutes in a car.

There are a number of points along the route where cyclists have to be vigilant.

There were no serious incidents to mar my regular trip yesterday, but I remained alert as I pedalled through the morning rush-hour traffic.

Dublin is still considered somewhat hostile to cycling. The cities of Northern Europe - like Sweden, Denmark, Germany and The Netherlands - are considered cyclist-friendly.

Ireland would be in the mid-league and not as bad as cities in Southern and Eastern Europe, which are very hostile to cyclists.

Cycle-friendly cities have a 50-50 split between male and female cyclists, and the more hostile cities have a much smaller percentage of female cyclists.

Crisp

Male cyclists cycle faster, are more assertive, and are more willing to take risks in traffic. In Dublin, 75pc of cyclists are male.

It was a crisp, cold morning yesterday, but it was dry - which is always good.

While I was making the journey, I was aware of a couple of buses as they were stopping, but I noticed they both gave me plenty of space, which I welcomed.

There were two construction sites on my journey in. One was at Mount Argus and the other one was at the hospice in Harold's Cross.

There are usually heavy goods vehicles moving in and out of such sites, and I took particular care - as there are a disproportionate number of cycling accidents involving heavy goods vehicles in Ireland.

On the Lower Kimmage Road there is an "advisory" cycle lane which has a broken white line. This means that vehicles can encroach on the cycling lane if they need to without incurring any penalty. Cars routinely encroach on the lane and can leave very little room between them and the kerb.

squeeze

Harold's Cross Bridge is a "pinch point" for all traffic, as vehicles coming down to the bridge from Harold's Cross on two lanes must squeeze into a single lane on the bridge. Inbound cyclists stopping in the vicinity to turn right have to be wary of the humpback on the bridge which can impede motorists' visibility. It's quite a hairy spot.

Motorists overtaking cyclists who do not give us a wide berth of one-and-a-half metres are a cause of safety worries - although Dublin Bus drivers show they have good training for these movements.

Motorists need to realise that cyclists can wobble or need to avoid potholes. It's worse when it's dark, wet and windy and when drivers are distracted.

Dr Damien O'Tuama is co-ordinator of Cyclist.ie - the Irish Cycling Advocacy Network

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