I am a thankfully, fit and healthy 52 year old Rathdowney man who up to now has not been easily frightened. But lately I have had my cage seriously rattled. Why ? Well I have always been interested in trying to stay fit. When I was younger I did a lot of running and played a lot of team sports. As the years have moved on I have fallen in love with walking and cycling to try to keep my body and soul together. But as I have recently discovered as I took to the highways and byways of our green and fertile land on my bike my body and soul might not be together much longer if the Irish motorist has his way! I am going to be blunt here- THE IRISH DRIVER DOESN’T GIVE A TOSS ABOUT THE SAFETY OF THE IRISH CYCLIST!!
On Wednesday of last week I had to leave my car (yes I am a driver too) into a garage in Templemore for the day for some repairs and rather than have someone collect me I decided to put my bike into the boot and cycle home. At the moment I am training for the Easy Riders Charity Cycle in September and I thought “this will be a nice chance to get in a good spin”.
I decided to cycle home via Roscrea, Borris-in-Ossory. I have had some scary moments in my life and lived to tell the tale but I can tell you by the time I had completed that cycle I was as they say “not worth tuppence” I was so shaken by the time I got home that I decided there and then that I am not going cycling on busy roads again, ever, on my own. I feel at least that there might be safety in numbers. This is a sad reflection on drivers.
While I was cycling home that day I would say only about one in ten drivers bothered to leave a safe distance between me and their car as they passed by me. Only the odd one bothered to move over to the other side of the white line in the middle of the road as they passed me by. In most cases I could feel the backdraft of their cars and trucks as they barely skimmed by me. Let me say here that I had a good high-visibility jacket on me. Drivers passed me even when there was oncoming traffic. Drivers passed me on bends. Drivers passed me as I was driving by those traffic calming islands coming into Roscrea. One driver passed me on my left leaving a roundabout in Borris-in Ossory even though I had my left arm out to show I was taking the same exit!
I am not out to have a go at drivers for the sake of it. I do more driving than cycling myself. I am just reacting to my personal experience of going out on the Irish roads these days on a bike. I still love cycling and I am not going to be terrified into giving it up because of some drivers lack of regard for, and in some cases, almost contempt for the cyclist. I wish all drivers would just stop for one minute and think how vulnerable that man, woman or child is on their bike as you pass them by in a couple of tons of steel. Just imagine if it was your own brother, sister, son or daughter you were passing on the road would you be so careless?.
We the cyclists ourselves of course also have to obey the rules of the road and take due responsibility for our own safety.
I am only one of now thousands of people who have taken to the roads on bikes (and walking) and I am pleading on their behalf as well as my own to please, please show a bit more consideration for cyclists. It’s you yourself who will have to live with the consequences if you come too close to my bike.