Wednesday, January 14, 2009

While scouring the Irish Times...

A bit of light-heartedness after the previous sombre post:
This from June 12th 2008, An Irishman's Diary;

"...still on the subject of walkers, there was a flurry of letters on this page recently from outraged Dublin pedestrians, angry at the invasion of their space by cyclists. Fair enough. On behalf of the cycling community, I apologise for the excesses of our militant fringe.

But while pedestrians are probably entitled to an even higher position in the hierarchy of self-righteousness than cyclists, they are not without faults themselves. And along with my apology, I wonder if I might also offer them a small note of criticism. If we cyclists are to avoid your footpaths, is it possible that you pedestrians might stay out of our bicycle lanes? I don't mean the ones on public roads, necessarily. If walkers want to share with us the thrill of never knowing when we will be mown down by a reckless motorist, good luck to them. No, I mean those special cycling routes in public parks - the ones with colour coding and little bicycles painted at intervals to let walkers know that they should be somewhere else.

Even here, I don't mind the occasional stroller intruding, just so long as he gets out of your way in time and looks gratifyingly apologetic. But such pedestrians are unusual in my experience. And the enjoyment of, for example, the Phoenix Park's bike paths is greatly diminished for cyclists by the numbers of walkers who clog them up, with the same sense of entitlement as they do the public footpaths.

These are not just strollers, either. Unfortunately, public parks attract high numbers of "power walkers", who pump their arms violently as they go, in such a way that a cyclist approaching from the rear and mistiming his passing manoeuvre even slightly can be knocked clean off his bike.

There are other risks too. Casual walkers who use one hand to hold a mobile phone and the other for gesticulating carry the added danger of being unpredictable. And don't get me started about dreamy young lovers, whose lack of lane discipline even on ordinary city footpaths is one of the biggest risks faced by bicycle couriers at this time of year.

But these summer evenings, the power-walkers are out in force in all the parks. And I can only explain their serial misappropriation of cycle lanes - rare as such things still are - by the fact that, for aerobic reasons, they have to hold their heads up while walking and thus never see the markings on the ground."

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