Re: Re: Dublin’s Bicycle Clutter
FXR, you do yourself a disservice in highlighting perfectly valid issues by taking an entrenched position. To generalise about ‘cyclists’, and to tiresomely pitch them in a battle against ‘motorists’, does nothing for either perceived ‘side’ and gets people’s backs up.
Nobody can deny the level of law breaking in Dublin amongst many of those who cycle, but we have no statistics on this. To make broad statements such as “the majority of cyclists in Dublin are breaking every law possible” is simply unfair and untrue. Yes, there is widespread breaching of traffic law, but to blow it out of proportion, or only give one side of events, helps nobody. Similarly, to even differentiate cyclists as a distinct ‘lobby’ is nothing short of preposterous. Notwithstanding the Road Traffic Act, cyclists in a dense urban context are but another version of pedestrians. They are not an alien group – they are ‘everyone’. Anyone can be cyclist, as much as one can be a pedestrian. Not everyone can be a motorist, by way of financial constraints, lifestyle or skills. To accommodate a cyclist is to accommodate society. To accommodate a motorist is not always in the common interest. Yet, I do not object to investment in road infrastructure, in spite of the fact I do not own a car and rarely have cause to use road-based public transport. But as a pedestrian and a cyclist, the overwhelming balance of financial support for roads is an unacceptable fact of life I have to endure on a daily basis. To claim that infrastructure has to be put in place for the sole use of cyclists is ridiculous – it is for the benefit of civil society. The quoted costs are even more ridiculous and warrant no further comment.
I agree rigorous enforcement is needed, particularly over blatant breaking of lights, lack of lights and visibility equipment, dangerous behaviour and cycling in dedicated pedestrian zones. I don’t think anyone would object to this. But one MUST consider the Dublin context, which has a city centre with little to no provision for cyclists. Simply put, cyclists ARE entitled to greater permeability and access through a street network than vehicles, the latter of which demand greater regulation and management due to their speed, relative inflexibility of movement, and consumption of road space amongst other factors. Those who object to cyclists having such rights are typically those who do not cycle, so do not understand the necessity of contraflows, dedicated lanes where required, or having to cycle on pavements or against the traffic to avoid dangerous conflicts with vehicles.
Without question I agree that there is a defiant and unmanaged cycling culture in Dublin, but rather than objecting to it, one must be constructive and ask why it exists. The most obvious reason is that Dublin does not accommodate the needs of cyclists, so cyclists must work out their own management system, often governed by personal safety, which in the eyes of the law is a culture of indiscipline. But the same equally extends to pedestrian culture in Dublin – because the city consistently refuses to acknowledge their needs in signal sequencing, pedestrians refuse to acknowledge designated times and crossing points. A culture of indiscipline – albeit a modest national trait – is magnified where design fails to respond to need. In the case of cycling, quiet back streets are usually the safest and most comfortable for cycling, but invariably are one-way streets – often lightly trafficked. Likewise, direct major arteries such as Dame Street often end in a dead-end for cyclists as a result of the one-way system for access to Grafton Street. St. Stephen’s Green is another case in point, as charted earlier (also bearing in mind that convoluted one-way and diversion systems take a fraction of the time for a vehicle to navigate than a cyclist).
What we need in Dublin is proper for provision for cyclists that responds to their needs, that over time – and it will take time – to eradicate the unmanaged cycling culture that has developed in the city in recent years.