This week's Independent News & Media Irish regional newspapers' column.
The days are getting shorter. It is dark in the morning close to 6.30am and it’s back to darkness again at 8pm. Not a nice feeling and there’s a lot of darkness ahead of us. There’s nothing we can do about it, that is, unless we head off to the southern hemisphere.
It’s that time of the year when we all need to be extra careful on our roads.
I had planned to write this column on a different topic this week, that is, until I was nearly knocked off my bicycle last week.
A passing car came far too close for comfort and it was also travelling at an unsafe speed. Please, can I call on all road users to drive safely. And you know what, a little bit of kindness and care goes a long way, whether we are driving, cycling or indeed, walking on the footpath.
It’s great to see extra cyclists on our roads. It is a pity we don’t have safer and better designed cycle paths but we have what we have so we have to make the best of it.
Of course pedestrians and cyclists are at the mercy of vehicular traffic. That goes without saying.
But there is a relatively new breed of cyclist on our roads and their behaviour has to be stopped ASAP.
Those clowns who consider the road a race track and are travelling at unsafe speeds on our roads.
They are easily spotted: all that lycra gear and usually topped off with a camera fitted on the helmet. Other bits and bobs too.
A Dublin Bus driver said to me that that particular species is one of the most dangerous on our Irish roads.
The morning that the car came far too close to me some minutes later one of these ‘man-cycle-racers’ passed me, leaving millimetres between us. Had I as much as veered slightly to the right we would have collided. There was no cycling path where we were.
And the cycle paths we have are certainly not built for racing cyclists.
A cycling disaster is waiting to happen.
Cyclists must obey the rules of the road and if they don’t they should be penalised.
With shorter and darker days on top of us it’s time for cyclists to make sure they have properly functioning front and back lights. And these days they are so cheap and simple to attach. Every cyclist should wear a high-visibility jacket and a helmet.
It’s well worthwhile to visit the Road Safety Authority atwww.rsa.ie. And guess what, they will post you out a high-vis jacket and a cover for your back pack. And it’s all for free.
The RSA phone number is 096 – 2 50 00, Lo-Call, 1890 – 53 25 32. You can write to them at RSA, Moy Valley Business Park, Primrose Hill, Ballina, Co Mayo.
But a warning. If you try phoning them, you need a large dose of patience. When I called the Lo-Call number, I was told it was closed.
They also give another Lo-Call number on their website, 1890 – 40 60 40. The number did not work for me. That is not good enough. The RSA should be far more user friendly and lead by example.
Last year 15 cyclists, 30 pedestrians, 20 motorcyclists, 66 drivers and 26 passengers were killed on our roads, not to mention all those severely injured.
Please keep safe on the road, cycle carefully. Kindness and consideration go a long way. Good road behaviour saves lives.