A leading cycling campaigner fears a slew of "anti-cycling" posters that mysteriously appeared on a popular biking route in north Co Dublin were designed to incite hatred towards cyclists.
The cartoon-style posters, which have since been taken down by Fingal County Council, appeared on lamp posts and poles lining the route between Sutton and the hill of Howth last week.
In one of the colourful laminated posters, two elephants wearing skimpy black Lycra outfits are pictured cycling side by side, oblivious to three lanes of traffic they are holding up behind them. Accompanying the image is the slogan: "I look good in Lycra."
Other posters bear sarcastic comments, including: "We own the road don't we?"
Another reads:"It's the hill of Howth not the Tour de France. Slow down."
Mike McKillen, spokesman for Cycling.ie - an organisation that promotes the use of bicycles for transportation and recreational use - said, while the posters are mildly amusing, the message is clearly hateful.
He cycled out to Howth yesterday to check out the posters for himself but they had been taken down.
"It's slightly funny but it's disturbing that people hate cyclists so much. It's a visceral hatred," he said.
He said cyclists - even those cycling on their own and not in large groups - are often targeted by aggressive drivers for no other reason than they are sharing the same road.
"Things will be thrown out windows at us. It's worse in Australia or the US, where they'll throw beer cans at you. But it's very dangerous if someone is driving 50mph and throws something at you, which will also be travelling at 50mph," he said.
Despite appearing to be tongue-in-cheek, the underlying message of the posters is aggression towards cyclists, he said.
"It encourages a redneck driver to do a punishment pass," he said of hostile drivers deliberately driving too close to a cyclist while overtaking them on the road. "It is disturbing."
"It may be funny, but what kind of mentality goes to these lengths?" he asked of the effort made to design, print, laminate and put up the posters, presumably under cover of darkness.
Fellow cyclist Dave McManus said he contacted Fingal County Council when he saw the posters while cycling in Howth and Sutton last Thursday.
He too was not amused, even though he is also a motorist.
He said he shares Mr McKillen's concern that the posters are deliberately encouraging antipathy towards cyclists.
"Someone is having a pop at cyclists," he said. "In the current climate over obesity and lack of exercise, particularly amongst the young, I just thought they were very insensitive."
Fingal County Council said it is "aware" of the posters and is taking action.