Cycling in Irish Cities

Cycling in Irish Cities

Postby Devin » Fri Sep 09, 2005 5:07 am

As many working in (or just interested in) the fields of planning and architecture are also interested in cycling, I think it’s time we had a cycling thread.

As anyone who cycles in Dublin knows, it is a tough bitch of a city to cycle around. And not only that - cycling in cities could be damaging our health. A recent Sunday paper article said:


URBAN CYCLISTS RUN HEART DISEASE RISK

Cyclists may be doing themselves more harm than good by pedalling to the office along congested roads, according to pioneering research by heart experts.

After just one hour of cycling through traffic, tests showed that the microscopic particles carried in diesel fumes caused significant damage to blood vessels, increasing the risk of heart disease…

…locating cycle lanes within bus lanes has the perverse effect of forcing cyclists to inhale the most dangerous air, spewed out by diesel-powered buses and taxis…If cycle paths were located away from roads the health risk to cyclists would be greatly reduced...


- The Sunday Times, August 21, 2005


Also this, making a similar point:


FUTURE SHOCK FOR IRISH CITIES

...Cycling is the perfect form of urban transport. It is healthy, environmentally friendly and - relative to current average urban traffic speeds - fast. But compared to elsewhere in Europe, Irish towns and cities present a formidable environment for the cyclist. Main roads and streets are dominated by traffic all day long and facilities for cycling - particularly outside Dublin - are often poor or non-existent. By failing to provide an attractive cycling environment, there is a sense of a wasted opportunity to ease traffic congestion and improve air quality by reducing car use.

The problem is, while some of the larger cities have cycle-lane networks, the lanes are usually located right beside the traffic on heavy-use arterial routes. The result is that motorists are not coaxed out of their cars, and cycling is left to the hardened minority who are willing to endure the fumes, dirt, noise and danger of cycling beside the traffic.

In order to bring about a substantial increase in cycling numbers, the cycling environment must be made safer and more appealing to use. We must begin to consider introduction of the proper, separated cycle lane networks as found in cities like Amsterdam and Copenhagen. In those cities, men and women in office clothes breeze happily around on bikes (as do students and senior citizens) - a currently unimaginable sight in the Irish city.

Also needed is further identification and creation of what have come to be known as cycle ‘green routes’; where the cyclist is removed altogether from traffic – e. g. routes alongside rivers and canals, through parks, campuses etc. We are probably losing a large number of potential cyclists because of the lack of minimally-trafficked or traffic-free ‘green routes’...


- The Irish Times, March 26, 2005


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Clanbrassil Street, Dublin :(


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Rokin, Amsterdam :)
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Re: Cycling in Irish Cities

Postby ConK » Fri Sep 09, 2005 12:21 pm

This is an article from the Indo, Aug 2005. It surprised me how short the sentence is for killing a cyclist.


Car thief gets five years for cyclist's manslaughter

THE driver of a stolen car has been given a five-year jail sentence for the manslaughter of a cyclist during a high-speed stolen car escapade.

Derek Glennon (20), of Cooley Road, Drimnagh in Dublin, drove at up to 70mph in the wrong direction on one-way streets and at roundabouts around south-west Dublin, trying to escape from gardai. He pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to the unlawful killing of Neil King at Davitt Road on December 16, 2002.

"This is a tragedy for everyone concerned," said Judge Bryan McMahon, who also disqualified Glennon from driving for nine years.

Detective Garda Ronan Rafferty told prosecuting counsel Luan O Braonain, BL, that he was on patrol in an unmarked car on Crumlin Road at about 12.55am when a Renault Megane car was seen crashing through a red light and doing a handbrake turn on to Windmill Road. Glennon, the driver, was startled to see the garda car come up to him, and took off at high speed down Crumlin Road with his two passengers. Det Gda Rafferty said he moved in the Naas Road direction in the belief Glennon was going there. But he was flagged down on Davitt Road by a pedestrian who was kneeling in the middle of the road beside Mr King's body.

Mr King's badly damaged bicycle was some distance away and he learned the dead man had been spun through the air when struck by Glennon's car. He died later from brain injuries. Det Gda Rafferty said gardai went to a house on Cooley Road after getting information Glennon was living there. Glennon said he would have stopped if he had seen the victim and was sorry for what happened.
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Re: Cycling in Irish Cities

Postby ctesiphon » Fri Sep 09, 2005 1:44 pm

Hmmmm... I could spend a week jotting down my observations and feelings on this subject and still only be scratching the surface. A few to begin with:
DCC Director of Traffic (Eoin Keegan?) was reported as saying at the Velo-city conference in May that he believed that the cycle lane network in Dublin has not worked- numbers of cyclists have not risen despite the provision of a city-wide network. To which I would reply, it's one thing to provide cycle lanes, another thing to maintain them. Daily I cycle the N11 and I can not recall it being cleaned even once- in fact, where the lane is 'on road', it regularly becomes the area into which broken glass etc. from the road is cleared. Not only that, the installation job was done so cheaply in the first place that the red tarmac surface has lifted in various places down through the years.
Also, wheelie bins, bus stops (with passengers and luggage) and parked cars are a regular feature of the obstacle course. For the record- parking on cycle lanes (full-time, or during their 'active' hours) is prohibited, end of story (Dublin parking regulations, 1962). I don't care if you're just popping in for two seconds to drop back that overdue DVD, or if you're unloading a marquee and need to park right at the driveway of the house. Park somewhere else, somewhere legal.
However, I think part of the problem is that the N11 lane was so badly designed in the beginning. I once had a running argument with a motorcycle Garda (who had incorrectly accused me of breaking a red light) for a few hundred metres as I pointed out that the lane was an inconvenience to use- at each driveway, junction, patch of broken glass, parked car etc I'd say 'inconvenience', until after 15 or so instances of this he just sped off. Some 'improvements' have been made to the lane in the last few years, but it all still gives the impression that it was designed for the convenience of motorists rather than for the safety of cyclists.
Finally (before this turns into a thesis), I wish cyclists would be more law-abiding. If you want to go against the flow of a one-way street, get off and walk. Red lights apply to all road-users, not just the motorised variety. Footpaths are for feet. If we are going to shout loudly that our rights aren't being respected, we must make sure that we are respecting the rules of the road ourselves. Even minor infringements give motorists the ammunition they need to dismiss us all with one gesture ('bloody cyclists'). And if a motorist does right by you (even if it's just them acting lawfully), be grateful and show it. This is a PR matter as much as a legal one.

Now look what you've started, Devin. :o
I'm sure I'll be back soon.
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Re: Cycling in Irish Cities

Postby hutton » Fri Sep 09, 2005 3:08 pm

ctesiphon wrote:However, I think part of the problem is that the N11 lane was so badly designed in the beginning. ....Some 'improvements' have been made to the lane in the last few years, but it all still gives the impression that it was designed for the convenience of motorists rather than for the safety of cyclists.
Finally (before this turns into a thesis), I wish cyclists would be more law-abiding. If you want to go against the flow of a one-way street, get off and walk.



N11 does seem like a poor joke in terms of serving the cyclist. If its design arose from form following function, then one can only suspect that the primary function was to clear the road of cyclists - not so much for cyclists, but for the convenience of motorists.
In particular I like the way cyclists are told to yield at points where, if they were cycling along the road, they would have had right-of-way; extra stops are so incentivising for usage :rolleyes: . And then there is the up-down special effect where, at vehicle entrances to residences, cycle lanes adhere to the contours of dropped curbs that were designed for pedestrians and motor vehicles, but never conceived for bikes. It is frustrating to watch that mistake being repeated again & again; after constructing new cycle lanes adjacent to the pre-existing lanes which had failed partly because of this along N11, Dun Laoghaire Co Co went ahead and repeated the same basic error from Whites Cross to the entrance to Leapordstown race-course :mad: (I wonder whether the engineers responsible ever themselves cycle - or do they just see bikes as playthings for kids, with the resulting consequences clear in subsequent sub-standard designs?)


I disagree as to cyclists having to get off bikes for one-way streets - more cycle contra-flows should be put in - Kilmainham (outside the gaol) works well :) One ways are conceived primarily for motor vehicle movements; it is unfair, if not offensive, that cyclists needs come subservient to the car. Being both driver & cyclist, I have no problem with someone cycling contra to a one-way - provided they do so with care, on the left, & dismounting if needs be, such as at junctions.

What I would like to know is, what do people make of the new "dotty" lines on the right hand sides of the carriageways on the regenerated stretches of O Connell St?
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Re: Cycling in Irish Cities

Postby ctesiphon » Fri Sep 09, 2005 3:33 pm

[quote="hutton"]I disagree as to cyclists having to get off bikes for one-way streets - more cycle contra-flows should be put in - Kilmainham (outside the gaol) works well :) One ways are conceived primarily for motor vehicle movements]

Oh I agree that more contra-flows would be ideal. I was thinking of cases such as, say, Baggot Street, where couriers (and others) constantly go against the flow on a two-lane road that is barely wide enough for two traffic streams. I have some sympathy, especially in this part of town, as it is a real pain to cycle legally from The Pembroke Inn/Kingston's Hardware to Ely Place (i.e. via Leeson St)- so much more tempting to just chance Baggot Street/Merrion Row. However, I presume we all remember the tragic case a year or two ago of the courier who knocked down and killed the pedestrian who had only looked in the direction of oncoming traffic...
I still stick to my original point, though, that cyclists should obey the rules laid down, if for no other reason than the aforementioned public perception (though obviously for many other reasons too).

You are probably unusual, if not unique, Hutton, in not minding cyclists going against the traffic direction- could this be as a result of being a cyclist too? Most motorists would take this simply as another reason to tar us all with the same brush. I do think, though, that all motorists should have to cycle in city centres as part of their learning process, to see how the other (vulnerable) half live. (It has been said to me by some driver friends that cyclists should also know how it feels to be a driver- how invisible cyclists can be, how awkward to encounter, etc.)

Agreed too that cyclists needs should not be subservient to the car. In fact, a friend pointed out to me a while back that cyclists are common law users of the road, whereas motorists are licenced road users- so if there's a hierarchy at play here, it is actually the other way around. How many motorists know or care? And if you were to stand your ground in a confrontation, there's no debate about who would come off worse- a boxy ton of metal versus the unenclosed tubular nag? No contest. Sadly, sometimes discretion really is the better part of valour, even when the law is on our side.
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Re: Cycling in Irish Cities

Postby ConK » Fri Sep 09, 2005 3:53 pm

Is the marked lane in the middle on both sides of the island in O'Connel street is where a cyclist is meant to be? there are often cyclists simultaneously cycling on both sides of the road. in front of both lanes of traffic.
Also when coming onto O'Connel street, how is the cyclist supposed to get into the middle of the road . .. . traversing traffic is treacherous.
I think there should be a contra flow cyclist lane from the Ambassador up to Waltons, there are always cyclists on the footpath outside the Gate. Maybe this might be part of the Parnell Sq rejuvenation?
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Re: Cycling in Irish Cities

Postby jimg » Fri Sep 09, 2005 4:42 pm

Finally (before this turns into a thesis), I wish cyclists would be more law-abiding. If you want to go against the flow of a one-way street, get off and walk. Red lights apply to all road-users, not just the motorised variety. Footpaths are for feet.

As a motorist and a cyclist, I disagree with this sentiment. I would consider myself an extremely law-abiding and careful motorist but when I cycle, I routinely break red lights, use footpaths, cycle the "wrong" way up one way streets, stay out of cycle lanes and cycle through pedestrian streets. Why is it reasonable to expect cyclists to abide with the rules of a system (the motorised traffic system) which isn't at all appropriate for bicycles? This system is specifically engineered to control and aid motorised flows through the city without consideration for cyclists. For example, when Stephen's Green was "re-engineered" a couple of years ago, I doubt that even 5 minutes was spent thinking about how the change would affect cyclists while I imagine every possible impact on motorised traffic flows was minutely examined and evaluated while the impact on pedestrians was probably also carefully examined. The "system" ignores the existence of cyclists so, when cycling, I've no problem ignoring it back. If I stuck to all the rules (which are designed for cars), many of my cycle journeys would take longer than walking would have.

And before anyone mentions cycle lanes, the majority are much worse than useless and many are downright dangerous and were obviously designed by someone who has never cycled through the city.
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Re: Cycling in Irish Cities

Postby corcaighboy » Fri Sep 09, 2005 4:47 pm

In my UCC days back in the early 90's, I used to cycle home from college, usually late -- down Washington Street, Patricks Street, McCurtain Street, and then Lower Glanmire road onto the dual carraigway to Glanmire (footpath where possible!), negotiate the main roundabout (the scariest part by far), and then on through what must have been the blackest stretch of road to Glounthaune!
And I lived to tell the tale! Just proves that there is a God after all.
I plastered my bike with flouroscent adhesive tape so that the bloody cars could see me, as my flashing lights were obviously not making an impact. Once a Garda stopped to me to ask what I was doing -- turns out he only wanted a chat!!!
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Re: Cycling in Irish Cities

Postby ctesiphon » Fri Sep 09, 2005 5:44 pm

jimg-
If you are not a law-abiding and careful cyclist, why bother being a law-abiding and careful motorist?
I can think of very few instances in a city centre (or even more broadly) where breaking a red light would not jeopardise somebody, whether pedestrian, other cyclist or yourself, i.e. most red lights are at junctions, at which different streams of traffic (motorised, cyclist, pedestrian) come together, so it stands to reason that when you have a red light, somebody else has a green one.

I agree that the rules of the road as they stand are designed almost exclusively for motorists, but I don't agree that this gives you the right to wilfully ignore them and do as you please. Your argument seems to stem from the fact that you believe you have a right to get to your destination as quickly as you please, regardless of the regulations. Where walking would be quicker than cycling a legal route, you choose instead to cycle illegally. Does this not depend on all (or most) other road users abiding by these same rules to permit you to break them as you require? Or put another way, how would it be if everyone did it? (A trite sentiment, I know, but bear with me.) This is one of the cornerstones of any legislative provision or regulatory intervention, that a free-for-all would be unproductive or even counter-productive (the 'Tragedy of the Commons' in simple economic terms). I'm guessing that you would be against your next-door neighbour developing a 24-hour quarry in his back garden (tell me if I'm wrong)- I don't see any real difference between that example and the cycling one.

I fully agree with you that cycling has been largely ignored in road developments down through the years, and where it has been considered, it has been tokenistic and downright laughable. Where I disagree with you is in your chosen method of rebellion. As I said above, the perception is crucial, and your actions are jeopardising my safety at a temporal distance, i.e. you are one of the cyclists that gets law-abiding cyclists like me a bad name. Your actions are thus ultimately detrimental to the cause of safe cycling in the city.

Finally, your selective quotation from my earlier post conveniently stopped short of including the crucial element that the quoted part prefaced:
ctesiphon wrote:If we are going to shout loudly that our rights aren't being respected, we must make sure that we are respecting the rules of the road ourselves.
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Re: Cycling in Irish Cities

Postby GrahamH » Fri Sep 09, 2005 6:42 pm

A point well made; at the best of times cyclists have an exceptionally hard time negotiating their way through cities without having to incur the wrath of other motorists ignited by other careless parties. It is of the utmost importance that cyclists maintain a 'good name' for themselves, more so than any other road users.

A careless cyclist is also much more dangerous than a negligent pedestrian - the speed of a bike makes it near-impossible for motorists or pedestrians to stop in time, or otherwise make a good judgement in an unsafe situation.

I've often wondered what it is like to use the new cycle infrastructure in and around Beresford Place/Matt Talbot Bridge/Moss St in Dubli - anyone have any experience of it?
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Re: Cycling in Irish Cities

Postby ctesiphon » Fri Sep 09, 2005 6:54 pm

There's new cycling infrastructure there? Matt Talbot has always been one of my cycling black spots- coming from Gardiner St direction onto the west-bound south quays is one of the most dangerous manoeuvres in the city that I know, especially cycling over the bridge with two lanes of moving traffic on either side. I haven't done it in a while, so maybe the new lanes will help, or maybe I've done it since their installation and just didn't realise. :rolleyes:
If you fancy a backer on my next outing, Graham, just let me know.
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Re: Cycling in Irish Cities

Postby jimg » Fri Sep 09, 2005 7:21 pm

hi ctesiphon.
If you are not a law-abiding and careful cyclist, why bother being a law-abiding and careful motorist?

Being careful and law-abiding are independent. I am a very careful cyclist. I certainly don't have a death wish. If I am breaking a red light, using a footpath or cycling against the flow on a one-way street, I do so with extra care and will often stop (but not dismount) if I feel any anything could go wrong.

I'm not sure what you expect in answer to "why bother being a law-abiding and careful motorist?" I haven't thought about it much but I guess, like most people, I'm generally law abiding because laws (not just traffic laws) are generally reasonably fair and are beneficial for society. It's patently obvious that you need laws to govern motorised traffic and the laws we have are largely reasonable.

I do not believe that everyone should break every law but I am arguing that it's reasonable to ignore stupid, arbitrary, unfair laws if doing so does nothing to endanger my fellow citizens. Also, I think the legal situation isn't as clear cut as you'd imagine; a solicitor friend told me that he doesn't think that it's against the law for a cyclist to go the wrong way up a one-way street.

i.e. you are one of the cyclists that gets law-abiding cyclists like me a bad name. Your actions are thus ultimately detrimental to the cause of safe cycling in the city.

This is backward thinking in my opinion. Are you implying that I am to blame if a passing motorist sees me using a footpath and develops psychopathic tendencies towards cyclists as a result?

My "actions" allow me to navigate the city on a bicycle and are necessary. Your regular routes through the city may not require you to take such actions; if so lucky you. I refuse to sit in stationary traffic for 10 minutes to travel 100 meters instead of using the footpath (when it's clear). I refuse to cycle an extra mile to get to a point 100 meters away from me because of a one-way system designed and implemented to improve access to the city streets for cars.
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Re: Cycling in Irish Cities

Postby jimg » Fri Sep 09, 2005 7:44 pm

Hi Graham.

A point well made; at the best of times cyclists have an exceptionally hard time negotiating their way through cities without having to incur the wrath of other motorists ignited by other careless parties.

This is unreasonable. If motorists are "wrathful" towards a particular cyclist just because they were irritated by a cyclist earlier in the day, the blame lies completely with the motorist. If I am driving and an idiot in a Fiesta (for example) does something that could endanger me, I DO NOT go ballistic with the next Fiesta I see. Such behaviour would be completely out-of-order yet you're indirectly suggesting that it's somehow understandable if the other party is on a bike?

It is of the utmost importance that cyclists maintain a 'good name' for themselves, more so than any other road users.

This is also unreasonable, I feel. Why would you single out cyclists over pedestrians, bus drivers, car drivers or lorry drivers for example? Try substituting any other class of road user into your sentence above. If I was paranoid, I'd say that this (and your earlier point) are manifestations of the general view that cyclists should meekly accept third-class status in Dublin.

A careless cyclist is also much more dangerous than a negligent pedestrian - the speed of a bike makes it near-impossible for motorists or pedestrians to stop in time, or otherwise make a good judgement in an unsafe situation.

Again you seem to single out cyclists among all road users for particular criticism without any attempt at balance or objectivity. A careless driver is a thousand times more dangerous than a careless cyclist and the statistics in terms of road deaths and casualties are there to prove it. In terms of cyclist/pedestrian "interactions", from anecdotal evidence and personal experience I'd say that in most cases the cause is the pedestrian and they generally occur as a result of crossing the road carelessly. The classic is a pedestrian crossing multiple lanes where one or two is stationary or simply stepping off the kerb without noticing a cyclist. If a cyclist "took out" a pedestrian while belting along a footpath, they'd probably be beaten to death by an outraged mob of other pedestrians and no doubt a few motorists would jump out of their cars to help. I've never seen it happen anyway. In contrast, I've seen a cyclist go over their handlebars and badly cut an elbow and hands after being "taken out" by a pedestrian stepping onto the street straight into their path; yet people who stopped just viewed it as an unfortunate accident.

I've often wondered what it is like to use the new cycle infrastructure in and around Beresford Place/Matt Talbot Bridge/Moss St in Dubli - anyone have any experience of it?

I didn't even notice it the last time I cycled over that bridge. I was too busy watching traffic and trying not to be killed.
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Re: Cycling in Irish Cities

Postby GrahamH » Fri Sep 09, 2005 7:47 pm

Is it illegal to cycle on footpaths?

What is implied in the notion of giving cyclists a bad name is blatently unsafe practices like breaking lights, not indicating, shooting out from junctions, and particularly weaving through traffic. Cycling on a footpath in most cases is hardly ranking high in the scheme of dangerous cycling I think you'll agree!

But yes you do make a good point about other careless road users being equally dangerous - though the sheer speed of unsafe maneuvers by cyclists does tend to rank them higher in the danger stakes than stupid pedestrians.

Certainly cycling offers you much greater freedom of movement within urban centres and is probably the primary attraction of the mode for most people, but it has to be done carefully - not just for the sake of the cyclist him/herself, but for all other roadusers, something that is often not considered.

Ctesiphon I was referring to the newish (about a year) lights and islands etc at the Moss St junction at the south of the bridge - quite a large intersection there of cycle and pedestrian lanes; likewise on the Custom House side. Just wondered how user friendly there are for cyclists. Also the raised stripey kerbline that surrounds part/all of Beresford Place seems useful in separating cyclists from the heavy goods traffic around here on what could be a dangerous curve with traffic inclining towards the cycle path on the bend.

Is there a cycle lane going over the bridge itself though - can't think now...
As for the bar, I think one person on a bike on Dublin's quays is dodgy enough thanks :)

Indeed on that issue, it's a bit morbid I know but do city cyclists here think a lot about the dangers they're often faced with - i.e. that you just might not make it home one day, or end up seriously hurt?
I think it would be constantly on my mind in Dublin in particular - it's bad enough being a pedestrian!
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Re: Cycling in Irish Cities

Postby Lotts » Fri Sep 09, 2005 11:26 pm

As 16 of the 21 cycle fatalities in the Dublin City Council area the past 7 years involved HGVs I'm hoping my own journey will be safer when the tunnel opens.

Couple of observations on Matt Talbot area too
Coming from Gardiner St direction, over the bridge (there is a cycle lane) and swinging left down the quays the cycle lane runs up onto the path behind a pedesrtian crossing. If you (pedestrian) want to press the button for the green man you have to stand on the cycle lane. Needlessly dangerous - particularly as bikes pick up a bit of speed coming down from the bridge. Also if the green man is signalled there's a red for the cars - but there's no red light for the bikes.

There's a fixed kerb seperating the bikes from the cars around the custom house (as Graham mentioned) - but not enough space for one bike to overtake another safely. Also if there's a pot hole or a chuck of rock or broken glass or a filled domestic refuse sack in there (I've seen all these) there's no option to manouver around it.
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Re: Cycling in Irish Cities

Postby PTB » Sat Sep 10, 2005 12:15 am

Why not build a cycleway along by the strand parallel to the N11? Better view, less smoke. That would be easier than most other roads when it comes to building green routes. the N1, N2, N7 and N81 are all sourrounded by buildings which makes building specialised cycleways very hard indeed.
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Re: Cycling in Irish Cities

Postby Devin » Sat Sep 10, 2005 1:03 am

Lots of interesting comments.

I’m afraid I fall into the same category as jimg (And I speak as a cyclist and ex-motorcyclist).

I think in Dublin we are long past the point of a possible co-existent relationship between motorists and cyclists, or one where good relations should be maintained. As everyone knows, prosperity, the surge in car ownership / car use and continued sprawl means the city streets are swamped with traffic all day every day. There is no system to speak of for the cyclist. Once you get on that bike, it’s "f*** or be f****d".

My routes from A to B in the city are chosen on the basis of absence of traffic. That entails all of the ‘illegal’ moves described by jimg in his first post, and other means like back lanes, parks and routes alongside Luas (always nice!).

For my part, this is the only way I can respond to cycling conditions in Dublin. I will not stand with bike at the red light of busy junction inhaling fumes for 120 seconds; I will keep moving. The law can stop me if they want, but lately I’ve noticed more and more, as they see how chronic things really are for someone trying to cycle in Dublin, the Gardai will ignore a cyclist hopping up and down off a pavement or breaking a light.

But – within reason – I will not do anything to frighten or endanger the pedestrian (I just as often am one myself). I will slow up/stop if such a likelihood is unfolding.

It is a great misfortune that such a wonderful form of city transport has become so fraught and unpleasant as it has in Dublin.
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Re: Cycling in Irish Cities

Postby irjudge » Sat Sep 10, 2005 3:49 am

It appears that the attitude of cyclists to motorists with which they are forced to share space with in the city centre needs to change as much as the attitude of the motorists to cyclists.

I fail to see the sense in the argument that breaking the law to facilitate a safe passage from point A to point B is any more acceptable for a cyclist protecting himself from motorists than it would be for the motorist to do the same to protect himself from SUV's , Artic's or buses.

Surely by routinely breaking red lights, the cyclist is putting their own safety at risk, the safety of pedestrians at crossings at risk and possibly in some cases motorists at risk.

Ideally there would be physical separation between the cyclist / pedestrian / motorist, but the majority of space in the city centre has to be shared by at least two parties.

However I do agree that little thought has gone into cycle route design. While there are design standards in place, these seem to be implemented in a lazy fashion and the detailing of junctions and points of conflict between the various modes of transport is poor. In many cases the cyclepaths dissapear with no safe way for cyclists to transfer from say an off road cyclepath to the carriageway.

Incidentally have cyclists been catered for in any meaningful fashion on O'Connell St in the redevelopment works?
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Re: Cycling in Irish Cities

Postby jimg » Sat Sep 10, 2005 12:57 pm

irjudge, you make the common mistake to assume that it is safer if cyclists follow the rules designed for motorised vehicles. Most non-cyclists think this but it is patently not the case. I've actually thought about this because in most other areas of my life I am happy to obay laws, regulations, etc..

Take a simple example - breaking red lights. Given two options when approaching a junction to make a right turn:
  1. Follow the rules designed for cars. Try to navigate across a lane of moving traffic to cycle into the right turning lane and stop behind the car ahead of you in the lane. Wait for the lights to change and then move forward with the traffic in your lane. Eventually as cars in front of you go straight through or turn right, you end up in middle of the junction. You are now in the situation every cyclist hates - stopped (or moving slowly) in the middle of a junction with cars, vans and trucks whizzing by a couple of feet to your left and oncoming traffic doing the same on your right. It's not melodramatic to say that stumbling could mean your death. Eventually when a gap appears in oncoming traffic you make a dash for it; sometimes this will involve crossing two or more lanes of oncoming traffic.
  2. The lights are red and pedestrians are crossing. You think, great all the cars are stationary (so they cannot kill me), here's my chance. You cycle between the two lanes to get to the front of the queue and enter the junction and execute the right turn slowing or stopping to allow any pedestrians to cross before completing your right turn. NO WHIZZING traffic and no danger to anyone.

Cycling is actually impossible for many people in Dublin because, understandably, they find being in situation 1. above to be so terrifying that navigating the city following the rules of the road for cars is impossible without having to dismount at junctions. The idea of cyclists being forced to dismount and mount at every junction probably appeals to people who view cycling as a menace. On my usual journey to work every day I break two particular red lights in order to avoid this situation.

Take another example - using footpaths. I don't cycle on the footpath in order to scare grannies. I use them if the road is too narrow. If the traffic is stationary, you are either stuck behind a vehicle or you're navigating the variated gap between wing mirrors and the kerb - constantly worried that a car will squeze in or open a door. Alternatively if the traffic is moving a queue of cars builds up behind you because the road is too narrow for the driver to do a safe overtake; so either you're holding up a queue of traffic and tempting a driver to do a rash overtaking manouver. In both these scenarios, I have no problem mounting the footpath assuming it isn't busy with pedestrians.

I am a rational person with a strong sense of self-preservation. I cycle in a manner to ensure my safety. I refuse to follow a set of rules designed for a DIFFERENT MODE OF TRANSPORT if the rules put my life in danger and I make no apologies for breaking such rules when they make no sense or would endanger me. Dublin simply does not accomodate cyclists in any meaningful way either by providing the facilities for cycling or even recognising (through reasonable rules of the road) that cycling is different to driving a car.
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Re: Cycling in Irish Cities

Postby PVC King » Sat Sep 10, 2005 3:14 pm

Scenario three you get off your bike and walk like the rest of the pedestrians and remount when you are beyond the junction. It has to be said that a lot of the behaviour of cyclists, motorists and pedestrians is dangerous to themselves as well as others.
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Re: Cycling in Irish Cities

Postby JPD » Sun Sep 11, 2005 3:59 pm

hutton wrote:N11 does seem like a poor joke in terms of serving the cyclist. If its design arose from form following function, then one can only suspect that the primary function was to clear the road of cyclists - not so much for cyclists, but for the convenience of motorists.


I always thought about how close this route is to the hospital; it needs to be it is lethal.
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Re: Cycling in Irish Cities

Postby irjudge » Sun Sep 11, 2005 10:02 pm

JIMG,

I have no doubt that you are a rational person. The reason we have rules of the road is to cater for the irrantional people. Why have a legally enforceable 50kph speed limit in built up areas? Because there are idiots out there who believe 80kph / 100kph is quite reasonable if you have to get from point A to point B as quickly as possible, and as we all know the law doesn't prevent some idiots from speeding anyway.

So we change the law so that cyclists can pass through a red light if it is safe to proceed! Where does this leave pedestrians? Once there is any doubt things become messy. The rule in the mind of many irrational cyclists may well become "red light doesn't mean a lot I can safely pass between those pedestrians and get across the junction before the light goes green again."

I do symphatise with cyclists and while I do not cycle anymore I did a couple of years ago in a provincial town. I bought a bike again just over a year ago brought it out on a country road a couple of mornings, gave it up as too dangerous, so I can only imagine what it is like cycling in Dublin.

The basic lack of respect for road users by road users is the real problem. All motorists are not ignorant, cyclist hunting morons. Many motorists, cyclists and indeed pedestrians show blatant disregard for others and this can only be solved by education and provision of the correct infrastructure. Our problem is we lack the provision of both in equal measure.
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Re: Cycling in Irish Cities

Postby Devin » Mon Sep 12, 2005 8:30 am

There is not a "lack of respect" for road users by other road users, only a response to an environment. There is an environment in Irish cities where cyclists are expected to use a system - the motorised traffic system - designed for a totally different form of transport. The result of this is that, like water taking the channel of least resistance, the cyclist is sqeezed onto pavements, into pedestrian streets and into the spaces beyond red lights where traffic is stopped. I don't do these things out of a "lack of respect" for other road users (or because I am lawless), but because the system dictates to a large extent that I do.
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Re: Cycling in Irish Cities

Postby jimg » Mon Sep 12, 2005 2:31 pm

I probably haven't convinced non-cyclists but if you want to understand my perspective, consider your own behaviour as a pedestrian. Do you ever "break" red lights? I.e. cross the road when the red man is displayed? Do you ever cross the road away from pedestrian crossings? Do you ever step off the footpath and walk on the edge of the street to get past a crowd or "overtake" slower pedestrians? Do you ever cross a street away from a crossing to save yourself a 300 yard walk? If you answer yes to any or all of these questions, I suggest your outrage at the idea of cyclists not following the letter of the law is hypocritical.

Pedestrians are often forced to break regulations. I used to live in an apartment off Capel St. and there wasn't a SINGLE pedestrian crossing anywhere around the entire block. If I were to obey the letter of the law, I would have had to call a taxi to ferry me from that block to across the street. Instead I waited 'til there was no traffic and then crossed the street. Would this have outraged any observing motorists? Possibly. Did I care about "giving pedestrians a bad name"? Absolutely not - I was simply responding to the environment I found myself in.

Pedestrians and cyclists are in a very different category to motorised vehicles. It's tolerable, in my opinion, for cyclists or pedestrians to deviate from the letter of the law because the risks associated with their actions are assumed by them alone. You could get pedantic with this point but statistics will prove that effectively this is the case. Motorists, while guiding several tonnes of machinery at speed, assume very little personal risk by being reckless around cities especially with the safety features of modern cars. Because of this there is NO equivalence, in my mind, between a pedestrian or cyclist doing something reckless and a motorists doing something reckless.
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Re: Cycling in Irish Cities

Postby Frank Taylor » Mon Sep 12, 2005 3:23 pm

Fair points, jimg.

Why does cycling work so much better in Amsterdam than here? I felt safe and found it much more enjoyable. A lot of the bike lanes seemed to be physically separated from the road by a curb. I can't put my finger on what the other differences were. Maybe there were fewer trucks and also the drivers were more aware of bikes.

Anyhow, maybe we should admit that we've made a mess of bike lanes and pay the dutch to come over and sort it out.
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