ColumnistsPaddy Murray

Not a very civil war as cyclists, motorists and pedestrians on collision course

Jodie Kidd loves her cars
Jodie Kidd loves her cars

WE are a nation at war. And not a very civil war at that. Cyclists, supported it seems by the might of Dublin City Council, have declared war on motorists.

They are of the belief that it is motorists who, metaphorically, fired the first shots.

And caught in between – and being caught in between a car and a bike can hurt – are pedestrians. Innocent or guilty? Both.

So today, being both a pedestrian and a motorist and having once been a cyclist (a pastime now ruled out by health considerations), let me take a look at the problem from everyone’s point of view.


MOTORISTS: Driven crazy by reckless road users

It appears, doesn’t it, that the Rules of the Road are a bit like the Irish language and what happens to that after we leave school. We study them, pass a test about them – and then forget every single thing we’ve learned.

For example, that old hoary chestnut, the indicator. Note the name.

There are three kinds of ways motorists deal with indicators: 1) they ignore them entirely; 2) use them only at the last minute when they’re actually turning, or 3) believe they make the car invincible and permit the driver to do exactly as he or she pleases.

It’s an INDICATOR. It INDICATES your intentions. It does not give you the right or permission to do anything at all.

And it doesn’t mean you can whizz around left turns without checking in your mirror for cyclists. It appears that, like indicators, motorists don’t have much use for mirrors – apart from the women you see using them to put on make up in the morning rush hour.

Then there’s traffic lights. Red means stop, not speed up or Three More Cars Through.

Staring straight ahead when you’re blocking a junction, doesn’t make you invisible. Really.

And there are the motorists who think the road sign for cycle lane means PARK HERE. There are the motorists who drive so close to the footpath that you wouldn’t get a knitting needle past, let alone a cyclist.

As for double yellow lines, sure they’re for parking on, aren’t they? And motorists ONLY use bus lanes when they’re not supposed to, NEVER when they’re allowed! Idiots.

Apart from everything else, we cyclists are saving the world. Really.

Some nice people like cycling. Gisele Bündchen and Gemma Atkinson, for example. But Jeremy Clarkson likes it too, so it’s not all good.


CYCLISTS: Bikers are a law unto themselves

I am not cyclophobic. Really. I like bikes. I like most bikers, even if some of them are a teeny weenchy bit sensitive and others a simply fundamentalist – without the ‘fun’.

I know most cyclists are grand people and stop at pedestrian lights, don’t cycle on footpaths, don’t cycle on pedestrian streets or the wrong way up one-way streets and always give hand signals.*

Now some cyclists are whingeing because it has been decided that, like everyone else in the country, they’re going to have to obey the law or pay the penalty.

They seem to think it’s okay if they break lights, cycle on footpaths, and so on, because being hit by a bike doesn’t hurt as much as being hit by a car.

The fact is, we are facing into the tyranny of the cyclist.

Our City Manager in Dublin, who could be described as a ‘devout’ cyclist, wants more and more space on our road to be allocated to cyclists on the grounds that a) he wants to and b) er, that’s it.

Believe it or not, there actually are people out there who can’t cycle for reasons of ill health, or because they’re just too damned old, or because they need to transport a load of kids, or because they are carrying something really big, awkward or heavy, or who quite simply don’t want to cycle. But their needs and wishes are ignored.

Why don’t cyclists have licences? Dogs have licences and they’re generally harmless and often nicer than cyclists and never call you a ‘***** *****’.

What about insurance and identification for cyclists? If they’re doing nothing wrong, sure there’s nothing to worry about.

Some nice people like cars. Jodie Kidd and Claudia Schiffer, for example. But Jeremy Clarkson likes them too so it’s not all good.

* I made that bit up.


PEDESTRIANS: It’s time for street smarts

What is it with motorists and cyclists? I mean, the road is clear, there’s nothing coming – well, nothing but them – so I cross the road. What’s the big problem? They can see me, can’t they, plenty of time to apply the brakes.

But what do I get? A loud beep on the horn, an angry face and some foul words mouthed at you. I’m a taxpayer. I paid for the road. So if I want to cross it, I damned well will.

But whatever about cars and buses, at least you can hear them coming. Not the bike. And, worst of all , the damned cyclist probably can’t hear anything because he or she is listening to an iPod as they whizz along.

Pedestrians don’t harm anyone. Cars and trucks kill. Bikes hurt when they hit you at 40kph, but pedestrians don’t hurt anyone.

And do you know what’s really annoying? If a cyclist hits you or nearly hits you and cycles off into the distance, you’ve no way of identifying them!

It’s about bloody time we were allowed to cross the street safely wherever we want. And if you thought that was me giving you the finger for cycling/driving through a red light the other day, it wasn’t.

I would never give a cyclist the finger. I’d give them two.

Some nice people like walking. Heidi Klum and Carol Vorderman, for example. But Jeremy Clarkson says he’s going to do more of it, so it’s not all good.