On your bike – thoughts from a newbie cyclist

 

Saw this video posted on the boards.ie cycling forum and thought it was really good. I’ve been meaning to write a blog post about cycling and the video has given me the push.

Dear Motorist,

I’ve returned to cycling in the last 3 months after a 30 year gap. The last time I rode a bike would have been in my early teenage year. Getting back in the saddle is one of the best decisions I ever made, and I wish I had done it sooner. It wasn’t easy at first. My legs ached. I panted and sweated. Younger and fitter cyclists whizzed by me with ease. 3 months on and all of that has changed. There’s still a bit of panting and sweating, but now I’m the one passing others out and that feels great.

I really look forward to my morning and evening cycle. It is truly liberating to be able to travel a distance without paying a fare, putting petrol in the tank or having to watch a timetable. I don’t set the alarm clock for the morning any more. Nor do I feel rushed like I used to. Whizzing past long rows of traffic and packed buses on a wet and windy day makes the weather pale into insignificance.

Having said all that, every time I hit the road it is always with a slight sense of nervousness that I never get with other modes of transport. It’s a feeling of vulnerability. I’m out there sharing the same bit of tarmac as hulking big lumps of metal that my flesh and bones are no match for if ever we met in some unfortunate circumstance. As I leave work in the evening I find myself paying attention to the Angelus bell and taking a deep breath before I head home. It’s a way of mentally bracing myself for the short (10 km) ride ahead.

In the 3 months since I got back to cycling, I’ve had a few near misses, all caused by motorists not paying enough attention. That’s not to say that cyclists are angels, far from it – but I think motorists in general aren’t as aware of cyclists as they should be. Most don’t appreciate the space cyclists need to cycle safely. They are viewing the road from one point of view only; one that has only ever seen the road from inside the safety of a car. Most car users have never cycled on the streets regularly enough to know the dangers and they see cyclists as a nuisance to be negotiated around as quickly as possible.

As 2013 comes to a close, my wish is for everyone on the road to just respect each other and slow down. Please, slow down. I don’t want to be all Gay Byrne about it, but you have no appreciation for speed until a car whizzes by you on the road when you are on a bike.

Cyclists. Respect the rules of the road. A hand out is not a magic wand. Red lights mean the same thing for all road users. Cycling at speed in wet weather is mad.

Motorists. Please be aware that the twinkling light of a bicycle that you see ahead of you on the road on the dark mornings and evenings is someone that matters to someone.

Father. (*Waves* at my precious Sam)

Mother.

Husband (or future husband in my own case – January 3rd since you ask. Love you Lisa)

Wife.

Brother. (Hey Paul, Elaina and Glenn)

Sister.

Uncle. (Hi Ross, Darren, Karina and Shauna)

Aunt.

Child. (Hi Mam and Dad)

Let this season be one where no one on this island has to face the future without their someone that matters because of a careless moment on the road.

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