For once, I am not going to talk about technical stuff but about cycling (this article is about Dublin but I am sure applies to a fair few cities). I have been sitting on this article for a few weeks, and I feel this is now time to publish it. I would like to thank Rich for the edits and corrections.
I am mainly a cyclist, this has to be said so people reading this understand that this article might be slightly biased. I live in Dublin and commute mainly by bicycle every day to the city center. That said, I am also a driver and a pedestrian. I should also mention that I lived in various parts of the world where I have seen all styles of people. This brings me to my point. People are stupid. Yes, it could be you, or your neighbour. The point is, regardless of the type of transport, you have idiots everywhere. This is quite important since on my commute I see idiots everywhere.
Let’s start with the drivers. there are good and bad drivers, like there are good and stupid people. The bad ones are amazing at pushing a cyclist in to the pavement, exceeding (sometimes at high speeds) the speed limit creating waves of air as they pass you, breaking red lights. I see this on my commute every single day. My favourite infraction remains when a vehicle passes you close to turn left just in front of you – this happens much more than you think. Cars parked in the cycle lane (and I do not mean parking spots but cars parked on single or double lines where only cycles are supposed to be allowed) is also very common and quite often on double yellow lines.. I will not expand on the bus drivers that feel the need to push you as you cycle, even if you leave them as much space as possible to pass by.
The second type is the cyclists. One could argue that the rising of Dublin Bikes brought a lot of less aware cyclists out there, and not a single day passes where I do not see one of them breaking a red light or going against traffic on a one way road. The funny thing is, this applies to the people owning their bike , and most likely commuting regularly too. Breaking red lights emphasizes natural selection, I am fairly convinced that chicken run applies here, stupid chicken crosses the road at the wrong time, balance in the universe is restored. Some cyclists also pass bikes on the left hand side, which is not only stupid but very dangerous. On the nice list of infractions, bikes using the pavement at moderate speed is equally bad for pedestrians and do not give the message that cyclists are responsible. Why? Because people are stupid.
The third type is the pedestrians. I hear the argument over and over again that pedestrians are endangered by cyclists as they cross the road. I can confirm that I have seen this on numerous occasions where cyclists were reckless when it comes to people crossing the road. But unfortunately, the same can be said of pedestrians, who are a danger to themselves and to the rest of the traffic. Considering how many never turn their head to check for incoming traffic, and how many look down at their mobiles rather than paying attention, they are quite hazardous in my view, those headless chickens should be cited by the guards.It is also worth mentioning that a fair few pedestrians do not give a shit about common sense and cross in front of you just out of defiance because you are supposed to be in control of your vehicle. I believe natural selection should apply here.
As most of you know, from the 1st of August, new laws have come into effect that allows guards to fine you on the spot for 40 euros per infraction. They are now able to sanction breaking red lights, cycling with no lights at night or cycling on pedestrian access. Garda have already announced blitz operations from the 1st of August. My problem with this is, it will probably catch a good few stupid cyclists, but what about the stupid drivers? According to this article, Garda does not seem concerned about stupid drivers, just stupid cyclists. This does not seem fair on any account, this is not an accurate way to deal with the issue.
It is quite clear Dublin is pro car biased, so I do not see this improving any time soon. Dublin is not a cycle friendly zone. The government likes to think that they have made the city as bike friendly as possible but unfortunately, until you split the cycle lanes and car lanes, this is unlikely to be resolved. And before you say that we cannot do it, I would encourage you to look at Amsterdam’s history, they made it happen. Given the fact that a fair few driving licenses were just given a few years back, this does not make for a very safe place. Dublin should still look into splitting lanes, at least stupid people will be commuting on the same lane with the same transport type.
A cyclist is much more vulnerable than a car, drivers be aware of that fact, it is quite easy to tip over a cyclist, due to speed and/or proximity. The only thing that we have to protect ourselves is a helmet, it protects only the head and not the rest of the body.
So until we actually have more solutions, stop being stupid.