Tuesday 15 October 2019

Michael O'Doherty: We motorists pay as cyclists flout the law

It seems that, at long last, the people are fighting back.

RTE's Liveline featured a piece yesterday about that modern-day ill, which will now hopefully be treated with some seriousness courtesy of Joe Duffy's timely intervention.

The issue is this -- are cyclists the lowest form of life?

Okay, I'm exaggerating. But the behaviour of Dublin cyclists, whose number has increased rapidly in recent years, is a serious subject.

The image of a benevolent cyclist ambling along, groceries placed in the wicker basket in front of the handlebars, cheerfully waving at passers-by, is a thing of the past.

The typical cyclist these days is more likely to be a shaven-legged, Lance Armstrong-lookalike courier tearing the wrong way up a one-way street, ignoring all traffic lights, and who considers the pavement to be a simple extension of the road.

And while the recent Dublin Bikes scheme has opened up that mode of transport to a wider audience -- even businessmen who have been newly converted to two-wheeled transport seem to consider this a chance to indulge their naughty side, and break laws that they would never do as respectable, law-abiding drivers.

The cyclists' perennial defence is two-fold.

Firstly, they argue that they shouldn't be criticised, because motorists have been careless towards cyclists for years, which can be distilled down to the notion that "it's payback time".


The other is that cyclists shouldn't be so maligned because they pose no threat of serious injury, which blatantly ignores the indirect damage that cyclists cause.

Every day of the week there are near-misses in Dublin city centre caused by cyclists flouting the rules of the road.

I've personally witnessed a pedestrian being thrown into the path of an oncoming car after being hit by a cyclist coming the wrong way up a one-way street.

And one day it will result in a death. On Liveline, one caller after another told their tale of law-breaking cyclists, near-misses with pedestrians, and if that programme does indeed capture the mood of the people, then perhaps the tide of opinion is turning at last.

Sadly, turning this revolt into action depends on Dublin City Council, and their attitude doesn't engender hope.

In the past few months they've spent €6m on a two-mile cycle lane running along the Grand Canal, funded largely by the taxes paid by motorists.

But when there's a shortfall in their revenue, what do they suggest? A 50pc increase in the clamping charge, again to be paid for by the motorist...

And the future looks even bleaker, as the most terrifying prospect for the city's motorists and pedestrians is that pro-cycling mouthpiece, Labour councillor Andrew Montague, is tipped to be the next Lord Mayor.

A man seemingly on a mission to drive cars off the road, he epitomises the type of zealot that the pro-cycling lobby seems to have more than its fair share of -- "two wheels good, four wheels bad", those who make you feel like any criticism means you are anti-environment, anti-healthy lifestyles, and pro-killing innocent grannies by ramming them with 12-axle juggernauts.


It is, as ever, simply about being fair to everyone. Why should motorists be forced to pay for the roads they use, and be obliged to follow all the laws imposed on them, while cyclists escape without contributing a cent, and being able to ignore every rule?

Answers on a postcard please, to be delivered by someone other than a bicycle courier...

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