Cycling off the tracks

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. 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.

Irish Times Mon 10th Jan 2011

11 thoughts on “Cycling off the tracks”

  1. A very good response. It lists all the problems which I encounter when cycling.
    The only time that I will use cycle paths is at nightime and when on my mountain bike – I never use them when on my roadbike as you would be sure to end up with multiple punctures due to the fact that they are never swept or cleaned. Most paths seem to have been designed by people who have never ridden a bike !

  2. Why would the use of segregated cycle tracks, being the official view of the council be “worrying”? It is a statutory requirement under current legislation and therefore is the required legal view of all local authorities in the state!

    The worrying aspect of your letter is your detailed justification for cyclists flouting the law while at the same time relying on Irish & international law to justify a bicycle’s perceived right to be on the road. The inherent contradiction of this position is either lost on you or simply ignored.

    You agree that 2 abreast is the maximum for cycling side by side but ignore the Rules of the Road which allow for 2 abreast but only where it does not inconvenience other road users – this caveat is routinely ignored by cyclists who appear to regard the 2 abreast maximum as a right rather than a concession. Such behaviour by cyclists is ignorant, anti social and totally unnecessary.

    Perhaps your lobbying would be better served by seeking free eyesight tests for cyclists, who, anecdotally, appear to suffer high incidences of colour blindness. This is demonstrated daily at traffic lights throughout the country!

    I support continued mandatory segregation of bicycles and motorised traffic.



  3. Oh my God Tim, can you just not let it go? If I recall correctly, didn’t a cyclist crash into you while you were parked in the cycling lane?

  4. Hi, Thanks for your well written letter.

    have sent a number of email to South Dublin County Council about the state of the cycle lanes over the last 17 years and they never bothered to reply.

    I don’t think that SDCC have any commitment to their upkeep and the lanes I use are woeful. I can’t understand why they don’t consult any cyclist before they construct them. I’d be happy if they have a line on the road.

  5. @Dermot & @Captain Havoc
    LOL Well done guys, attack the messenger and ignore the message – very constructive!!!!

  6. Might I suggest the final link in the post above be changed, since it points to the generic letters page of the IT, which changes daily.

    This links to Mike McKillen’s letter directly:

    Here is another letter in the correspondence, confirming that Mr. McCormack was not expressing the views of the council:

  7. Letter from South Dublin County Council, from link above

    Madam, – I wish to clarify that the observations and views expressed by Richie McCormack in his letter “Cycling off the tracks” (December 31st) were entirely his own. He did not speak on behalf of, or reflect the views of South Dublin County Council. – Yours, etc,

    TERESA WALSH, Director of Human Resources, Corporate Affairs and Libraries,
    South Dublin County Council, Tallaght, Dublin 24.

  8. There’s no point trying to engage with Tim Allen, but the following is worth pointing out:

    Not all cycle tracks are legally recognised cycle tracks as described in law, many of those on footpath or off the road are not ‘cycle lanes’. Lanes or tracks which have a shared use signs (those which show a pedestrian and bicycle sign) are not subject to mandatory use. Nor are lanes which use cycleway signs.

    All bus lanes other than contraflow bus lanes must have a sign which pictures a bicycle. Furthermore if there is a cycle track with a proper sign and bus lane mandatory use seems to apply to both and there is no provision to say which the cyclist must use. Cycle lane markings on the road within bus lanes seem to be little more than a suggestion.

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