A tale of two cities on bicycles

Recently while driving in Aberdeen I stopped at a red traffic light. A cyclist came up to my car and knocked on my window, and when I opened it he pointed out I had moved just a little on to the space just in front of the lights reserved for cyclists. I apologised. He smiled, and we all moved on when the light turned green.

Two days later I was driving in Dublin on a visit there, and again stopped at a red light at a busy intersection in the city. As I waited for the lights to turn green I observed no fewer than seven cyclists merrily cycling across the red light on to the intersection, in one case narrowly missing both a bus and a pedestrian (who was in his case also jaywalking). It occurred to me that none of these Dublin cyclists would have accosted me in Aberdeen because they would have been too busy cycling across the red lights.

I raised this issue on this blog some years ago, and when I did so received a significant amount of hate mail in response, asserting that cyclists were put-upon and victimised road-users. One suggested to me in a somewhat tortuous argument that the only way he could protect himself from vicious motorists like me was to ignore traffic laws. I imagine he also felt that cycling at night without lights gave him better protection. Of course some motorists behave irresponsibly, but that doesn’t mean cyclists should in much greater numbers do the same.

I enjoy cycling myself, so this isn’t a biased attack on the pedalling community; though mind you, I wouldn’t be seen dead in some of the velcro outfits. But it is time for cyclists to be responsible road users, and to show consideration for others, and indeed for themselves and their own safety. This seems to be better understood in Aberdeen than in Dublin, and I hope it stays that way. In Dublin the Gardai (police) made a short-lived effort to enforce the rules of the road against cyclists and then gave up when there was an outcry. I think the outcry should go the other way.

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4 Comments on “A tale of two cities on bicycles”

  1. Anna Notaro Says:

    the aside comment on the velcro outfits reminded me that when I was living in Holland I rarely came across one, cycling over there is so part of ordinary Dutch life that it does not require a special outfit, but perhaps there is something about cycling and Anglo-Saxon masculinity that I miss when it comes to this 🙂

  2. Colin Beagrie Says:

    This topic is so polarising, I’m sure you will receive more colourful commentary on it. I’m a cyclist myself and I don’t always get it right but do try to stick to the road rules when biking.

    There are good cyclists and bad, good drivers and bad and good pedestrians and of course bad… It always seems that we hear more of the negative aspects on all three sides… No-one ever remembers the cars that give plenty of room, just the one that passed close-by, likewise for the cyclists, plenty sit at lights, a bad few don’t.. But everyone gets tarred with it…

    Why can’t we just be nice to one another?

  3. Vince Says:

    I live near Carrick on Suir where Sean Kelly comes from. Even today years after he was a feature in sprints during the TdeF and other pro races his name is well known outside the cycling world in Ireland.
    Now I cycle, quite a bit. But when I cycled in Dublin and Galway if you didn’t get out ahead of the traffic at a red stop you were very likely to be crushed. People don’t see you. However down here in Tipperary we have a series of National Roads crossing the county, some even fairly straight and sporting a hard shoulder too boot. But most aren’t nor haven’t. They tend to conform to curves and contours of the landscape. However all N roads are a 100kph except when near a school or junction but into this we have gobshites pretending they are in a pelethon. You can be crossing the road at 100 when suddenly you encounter 50 cyclists filling the carriageway. I think this is deathly dangerous. Far more so than crossing into Michelangelo Box on a red.

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