Madam, – I wonder does Richie McCormack (December 31st) have the imprimatur of South County Dublin Council when he calls for cyclists to use segregated cycle tracks when they are provided? If this is the official view of his council then it would be worrying indeed.
The reason many cyclists choose not to ride on segregated tracks but instead use the carriageway is because most of the tracks are poorly maintained (littered with slimy leaf mould or broken glass and gravel), with tree roots protruding through the pavement surface. The tracks are used willy-nilly as a parking place for builders’ skips and cars. In the recent snowy period they were not gritted or cleared of snow and ice, in contrast to most of the major roads to which they run parallel.
As a road authority, Mr McCormack’s council will be aware that bicycles are classified as a vehicle in both Irish and international law and fully entitled to be driven on the road (motorways excepted). In relation to cycle tracks (mandatory use type) the Government is committed to repealing the mandatory use regulation, to which he refers, in the National Cycling Policy Framework (Department of Transport, 2009).
This is to say nothing of the fact that cyclists using these tracks have to weave around thoughtless pedestrians walking their dogs (without proper control of them) along the adjacent foot-way; or the road safety issues they face when they lose priority at a junction; or the rollercoaster ride they face crossing a multitude of driveways.
Road safety research shows that in urban areas segregation of cyclists on tracks can lead to increased accidents at junctions where the rider has to re-enter the carriageway. Cyclist.ie recognises that cycle tracks have their place alongside arterial roads where traffic volumes are heavy and junctions few, or as “greenways” for eco-tourism purposes.
Regarding cyclists taking up too much space by cycling side by side, we agree that two-abreast is the maximum, but would ask Mr McCormack and other motorists to show some forbearance in this matter on rural roads with little traffic, where cyclists travelling together can respond to approaching vehicles by moving to single file as necessary.
Above all, let’s keep cyclists on the road where they can be seen by motorised vehicle drivers and where priority is not lost at junctions.