When I say that I cycle in and out of work, people treat me as though I am some kind of lunatic. When I say that I do it without a helmet and a high visibility jacket (in daytime people), they decide that I am a weird freak and try to talk to someone else. Dubliners firmly believe that there is nothing more dangerous than going out on a bike. My father cycled until he was 80. I cycled in and out to school regularly as a teenager, I cycled in Brussels (ok I didn’t cycle in Rome but that was because I had a moped), I feel cycling is safe enough. I even did a bit of research on it, so phased was I by the horror and awe with which my activities were treated. It’s safe enough. In fact, having cycled to work for many years, I think Dublin is far safer now than it used to be: no juggernauts on the quays; far more cycle lanes; extended car free zones.
Recently, Dublin has put in place a free bike scheme like Paris, Brussels and Copenhagen. The Irish media being what it is, this has been a national news story for well over a week now. This has tempted cautious Dubliners to try out the bicycles. There was a man on the telly the other night who announced joyfully that he had cycled up and down O’Connell Street. Something that he could have achieved very easily even before the scheme was introduced but he had just been too scared. Still, I do feel it’s a good thing. There seem to be far more bikes on the roads which, of course, makes it safer for everyone. Every hire bike rack I pass has someone struggling excitedly with the technology. In fact, the only real danger in all this is when someone who hasn’t cycled for 20 years wobbles nervously into my way on the cycle path but this is a price I am more than willing to pay to get more of us out on the roads.