‘I Have Been Knocked Off My Bike Three Times’

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Cyclists in Dublin City Centre

I read with interest your Editorial on cycling safety.

I drive, walk, and cycle around Dublin regularly. I have been knocked off my bike three times, each time by a driver.

The first time a car driver opened their door into the cycle lane while I was going past. The second a van driver turned left onto the cycle lane without indicating (or looking).

The third time, recently, another car driver turned right across a junction I was going through (and where I had right of way) onto me.

These incidents all occurred in broad daylight, and I was perfectly visible to anyone who looked for me. I was fortunate in these to have escaped without serious injuries, but many other people who cycle have not been so lucky.

The common link is that these people driving did not look for the cyclist they were sharing the road with.

While it is all very well to ask cyclists to behave better, and there is a role for that, it just amounts to victim-blaming; what kills and injures others are the people driving cars.

What we really need is to separate vulnerable road users such as cyclists from cars with proper cycling infrastructure such as exists in many European cities like Copenhagen and Amsterdam. Where we do have to share the road, we need to educate drivers to be more aware of people on bikes.

A bicycle has many advantages over a car in Dublin: it’s cheaper, it’s faster in traffic, it’s better for the environment, parking is easier, and it’s better for your health. With better infrastructure it could also be safer.

Eoin Kelleher,
Rathfarnham,
Dublin 14.

Making the roads safer for cyclists (Irish Times letters page)

The Irish Times view on cycling safety: a dangerous road (Irish Times, August 8, 2018)

Related: Irish Times view on cycling safety shows the newspaper hasn’t a clue (Cian Ginty, Irish Cycle)

Pic: Dublin Cycling Campaign

Update:

It’s escalated.

75 thoughts on “‘I Have Been Knocked Off My Bike Three Times’

  1. Braaap

    Nicely said, people need to realize that each cyclist is another car off the roads. Some cyclists may break lights and that’s completely wrong, but so do many cars and buses and trucks. Taxi drivers almost feel obliged to break lights if they have a fair. I think many drivers racing from red light to red light need to relax a little.

    1. Ian-O

      +1

      While everyone needs to be super observant on the roads, I cannot fathom the sheer hatred I see time and again against cyclists. As you say, each cyclist is one less person on the roads which can only be a good thing for everyone.

      When a cyclist acts the idiot it can of course cause injuries, but when a car or van or truck driver does so, it is much more likely that it could be fata or life altering, yet the venom spitted out by some drivers at cyclists is neither fair nor warranted. Dublin is over capacity for everything from housing to transport but blame the people who are not producing carbon emissions, are not tying up the M50, are not taking up bus or rail seats and are generally not a danger to other road users (some idiots on bikes can be careless and dangerous of course, but not even a small minority).

      *Not a commuting cyclist myself*

    2. realPolithicks

      A little bit of respect and courtesy is all that is really needed from cyclists and motorists. There is room on the road for everyone if people would just slow down and watch out for their fellow road users.

      1. dylad

        I don’t agree with there being enough room, a proper infrastructure is required. In the meantime, motorists need to be aware of pedestrians and cyclists and take care.

        1. realPolithicks

          On most roads there is enough room if people would look out for each other, and while I agree that proper infrastructure is required, realistically it’s never going to happen so you have to deal with the situation as it is.

    3. Bernard Donnelly

      Hi
      In am a driver and a cyclist. I am shown courtesy most of the time from drivers. There are some drivers and I really don’t think they have a full licence or have passed a test. But, if cyclists had lights day and night they would be seen earlier by motorists. A pair of lights with flashing mode and can be removed and put in your pocket costs 4 euro in Lidl or Halfords. Also a good helmet costs less than 10 euro. The ” Wish” app has everything for bikes and cyclists.
      Bernard Donnelly

  2. Dhaughton99

    It really has gone so dangerous in the city. Every day you are in a close encounter and usually with pedestrians. Looking at phones, looking the wrong way, not looking at all. And dare I say, usually female.

    1. theo kretschmar schuldorff

      Don’t forget, ‘looking at females’ in your list of distractions. It’ll be men mostly at that.
      Mostly

    2. pedeyw

      I quite cycling to work after a couple of close calls (especially in and around college green, pearse and westmoreland street) and general rudeness. It’s just not worth the hassle anymore.

    3. Ian-O

      So are they usually female while getting in your way and perhaps male at other times? How can you tell, I am curious to know what methodology you used in your in-depth studies?

      1. Dhaughton99

        Any rear wheel popping near collisions I have had were with females. I cycle the city every day.

    4. dylad

      That is no excuse for hitting someone. The onus is 100% with you as a driver to reduce that risk as much as possible.

  3. Dan

    Cyclists do need to stop weaving through pedestrians crossing the road at a green light. And cycling on the path. One cyclist nearly ran me over in the Docklands last night after breaking a red light and flying around the corner.

    1. George

      You can’t do that on segregated cycle lane. So surely, you must support the letter writer’s view?

    2. JunkFace

      In Germany, they just paint cycle lanes on the footpaths, which are generally wide-ish, but not always. Anyway its a lot safer having a kirb and parked cars as a barrier between you and buses, cars, trucks etc.. I would still wear a helmet though as many time pedestrians walk into these lanes staring at their phones. You need a bell! Or foghorn, I’d love a foghorn

  4. scottser

    my most recent was example number 2 a few weeks ago on the sandyford road just at the lights outside the mint. to whoever owns a skoda hatchback reg 181 G 2041, the physiotherapy on the shoulder is coming along fine thanks.

  5. Giggidygoo

    Yet in the photo, where there’s a cycle lane, there’s a cyclist out in front of a bus, and another two behind it not in the cycle lane. Oh look, there’s three more without helmets. Would the killing and injuring reduce if cyclists took safety a little more serious?
    Cyclists should have compulsory insurance and undergo a cycling test, the same as motorists.

    1. George

      The man the front is overtaking, we can tell more about what’s going on behind but cyclists are not confined to cycle lanes. In this case the cycle lane has a dashed line meaning cars are allowed to drive on it.

      It is just some paint at the side of the road. The letter clearly describes cycle lanes that are separate from the road.

      The helmet comment is a red herring which would be obvious if you’ve ever read anything on the topic. You’re not concerned for their safety and are just using helmets as a stick to beat cyclists with.

    2. Bobby Rwanda

      “Cyclists should have compulsory insurance” – a crisp, uneducated comment to conclude. Fair play.

    3. b

      that’s not a cycle lane, it’s a some tarmac with some paint roughly marking out an area that other vehicles regularly cross

    4. Braaap

      Pedestrians should have compulsory insurance and undergo a walking test, the same as motorists.

      1. scottser

        and those guys in wheelchairs, and mothers with prams, and those guys on crutches, and oul wans with shopping trolleys – they’re a menace..

      2. Jeffrey

        Pedestrian aren’t on the road as far as I know, joke is a bad one. A big part of the issue and whats highlighted in the letter is about people paying more attention – goes both ways, Cyclists and Motorists, and Its an awful lot easier for Cyclists to see whats going on than Motorists unfortunately – mainly due to the fact that Cyclists can be up to your level from yards back in a flash at a red lights and you simply cannot have a constant eye on the sides… more attention yes, for sure but there is no magic recipe to alleviate accidents which are more often than not due to a short moment of inattention.

        1. george

          What’s highlighted is 3 examples of cars and vans knocking down a cyclist and the lack of suitable infrastructure for cyclists.

        2. Braaap

          I think you’ll observe quite a few pedestrians on the roads, usually crossing them. Quite a few without checking for oncoming traffic, no joke.

    5. JunkFace

      Ha ha! There’s already too many insurance policies and gouging going on in Ireland. Why would we need more, in possibly the most insured (ie: ripped off) country on Earth?

  6. Cú Chulainn

    It’s not better if you get yourself run over or even dead. Every road user has to be responsible. If you are on a bike, and always going to come off worse in a collision then common sense dictates that you slow down at junctions and expect the unexpected.

    1. Braaap

      Another fine bit of victim blaming. People don’t go about looking to “get themselves run over”, cop on and show a bit of humanity to the families of victims who have already lost their lives through no fault of their own. It’s truly shameful that you completely disregard the calls for segregated cycle tracks and promotion of driver awareness and compassion. Push the blame to the cyclists because they’re more squishy.

      1. Cú Chulainn

        I happen to know two people who have died recently because of being on a bicycle.. of course get separate lanes.. but if Eoin has been hit three times as he’s describing, then he needs to stop thinking a car should stop and start expecting it not to.

          1. rotide

            You mean the way car drivers are taught to drive?

            I know it was hammered into me that you expect the unexpected

          2. Nigel

            Exactly. Expecting them to drive the way they’re taught to drive. Imagine expecting that! Or at this point is that The Unexpected?

          3. Andyourpointiswhatexactly?

            I trust no car when I come up to a left turn. It’s a pain in the arse, having to slow down, but it’s safer.

          4. rotide

            Yes Nigel, that’s exactly it. You basically assume everyone else can’t drive and you’ll avoid a fair amount of anger.

            Exactly Andi, I avoid tailgating like the plague also , which also leads to annoyance when other cars jump in ahead of you but it’s a lot safer.

      1. shortforBob

        Helmets would reduce head injuries to motorists too. Requiring drivers to wear small bump helmets could save a significant number of lives.

        Hi viz cars would reduce injuries, banning black or dark cars would be a start.

        Car radios and other in car entertainment are a dangerous distraction, drivers are able to hear far less than any cyclist. (Although that line of argument discriminates against the deaf who have every right to cycle or drive.)

        These arguments are nothing new, but our governments continue to be more concerned about motor tax revenue than saving lives.

    2. George

      Yes, I always try to avoid “getting dead” and anticipate vans swerving into me and car doors swinging open.

      1. Jeffrey

        But If you expect all these events to happen I bet you it will be a lot safer. Note that we, as motorists, always have to do this. I never ever trust an indicator or cyclists signalling! No wonder accidents happen if people “assume” everyone knows how to drive, most dont!! Up to recently you could get in a car and drive with just the theory and a few hours, thats total madness. An awful lot of motorists and Cyclists have no clue how to behave on roads or at round abouts or at traffic lights. Dont trust anyone.

        1. george

          Read the examples and explain what the person should do? Do you want them to cycle in the middle of the road in front of your car to avoid car doors? What about the Van that drove into them? What is the cyclist supposed to do to prevent that?

    3. edalicious

      The problem, Cú Chulainn, is that you can take all the care in the world, cycle with a paranoid level defensiveness and no matter what you do, some eedjit in a car can decide to do something unpredictable and there’s absolutely nothing you can do to predict or avoid it. BUT, had the aforementioned eedjit checked that it was safe to proceed before making their manoeuvre, as they are legally obliged to do, everyone would make it home safe and well. You can expect the unexpected but it’s the unknown unknowns that’ll get you!

    4. Jeffrey

      Very good point. I trust myself as a good driver but I always pay extra attention when spotting a cyclist or even another motorist – I trust myself but not the others. Never trust / assume what others will do on the road in front of you (or sides for cyclists)

  7. DDT

    regards safety and rule breaking: nearly everyone is an idiot. there will always be people at fault from the 3 commuter cateogries (cycle, walk, drive). no one more than the other. that will always be the case, and each will point to the other 2.

    regards making better cycle lanes etc.: the layout of the city and it’s roads are very old, so you can’t build lanes etc. where there is no space. bigger roads have decent lanes for bikes, the smalelr more troublesome ones dont have space to expand. unless you want to mill peoples houses and gardens out of it. which you can’t. we are constantly striving to ape other cities abroad and keep up-to-date, but the structure isnt there for it. the only thing to do is get a load of traffic cops out there, not in cars, but at lights and crossings etc., and impose harsh punishments for people breaking lights, driving/cycling dangerously, crossing before the green man, looking at ur phone etc., force people into being safe and responsible using the only method people understand; punishment.

    1. george

      The argument that the streets are too small doesn’t wash. There is chronic undersupply of cycle lanes and even the widest road in Dublin do not provide segregation. Look at O’Connell Street, Dame Street, Nassau Street, Parnell Street, Baggot street, Mount Street, Leeson Street. They are all nice and wide.

  8. scottser

    my most recent was example 2 on the sandyford road outside the mint. a car cut me off turning left while i was going straight ahead. car just kept going, either out of malice or ignorance. anyway the physiotherapy is working, albeit slowly and the bike needs a new gear derailer. gardai obviously not interested in the statements from the 2 sets of witnesses who were able to verify the reg number.

    1. Andyourpointiswhatexactly?

      GEEBAGS. No way they didn’t know they hit someone. Hope you get well soon.
      GEEBAGS.

      More often than not, tis the ladies are the desperate drivers. Pains me to say it. Men are faster, admittedly, but the ladies? Sheesh. There’re times I’d love to have a ninja star to fling at their tyres.

      1. Brother Barnabas

        i’ve always thought the opposite actually

        (one thing I’ve noticed – since the 1.5 metre clearance when passing recommendation was introduced, motorists are a lot more careful)

        1. Andyourpointiswhatexactly?

          Really? You think women are better? I’ve found that women are slower so when they decide to take a dangerous left turn my chances of getting creased are higher than when a guy shoots around the corner quickly.
          The worst are Indians in Micras. I know that sounds (well, is) racist but keep your eyes peeled. Comically bad. I’ve a feeling the driving test over there isn’t hard to pass.

          1. Andyourpointiswhatexactly?

            You’ll start seeing them everywhere now. Pootling along, breaking every rule.

          2. scottser

            actually, an indian guy nearly drove me into the kerb the other day, him swinging in to the left to get a bigger circle to turn right. i wouldn’t mind but he had to speed up to me to do it. there are idiots everywhere andy, as i’m sure you know.

  9. postmanpat

    Only 3 times? you’ll get worse scrapes when ya start shaving youngfella., I been knocked into/over on average once a year during my 25 year commuting career. It goes with the territory. Still beats the sh!te out of public transport. Just assume you’re invisible all the time and you’ll minimize the accidents. Don’t assume because your wearing a helmet and you have lights that it makes any difference. One of the reasons I don’t use a helmet is that is shatters the illusion of invulnerability to me and 90% of the motorists who bothered to notice me in the first place. Motorists take more care overtaking a non helmeted cyclist than a helmeted one. Its a subconscious thing with drivers. A helmet is not going to protect any of the areas in the body in a collision anyway . It is a net danger overall wearing one.

  10. rotide

    Would cyclists be ok with using cycle lanes where available and when not available, sharing the footpaths with pedestrians? If not, why not?

    1. Nigel

      Would pedestrians? I love me some cycling activism but poor old pedestrians really are treated as an afterthought in the infrastructure wars.

      1. george

        There are footpaths on every street in urban and suburban areas but no provisions for cycling on most streets.

        1. Nigel

          I have this whole argument about pedestrians but I’ll spare you because I agree with the substantive point that cycling infrastructure is wojius.

    2. Andyourpointiswhatexactly?

      Nope. I get off my bike and walk on footpaths. It’s no skin off my nose to do it and it’s safer.
      Often, just to be a dick, I make it awkward for people cycling towards me on bikes on footpaths. I enjoy such pettiness.

    3. George

      It’s dangerous and totally unsuitable for bikes to be on the footpaths. The limited number of
      cycle paths that are provided are often uneven and unsafe, full of holes and other obstacles like sunken drains. The good ones that are provide the Sutton to Fairview are very well used.

      Cyclists need to be provided for like everyone else. It is not ok to expect cyclists to use infrastructure designed to meet the needs of others. Major mistakes were made when cars were allowed to dominate and bikes were ignored and this needs to be reversed.

    4. scottser

      not all cycle lanes are well thought out or safe for use by either cyclists, motorists or pedestrians.
      have a cycle up leopardstown road from the roundabout to the n11 some day. the cycle lane is on the path, so you’ve to put up with pedestrians, lamposts and signs, cars coming out of their driveways etc. then try the other side going back down to the roundabout where at two junctions you are forced around the corner onto the pedestrian crossing.
      so no, is the answer to your question.

  11. shortforBob

    Remove the lights!
    I’m not even joking, in many cases this is what the Dutch have done, forcing everyone to go slower and be more careful. You can’t help but notice the same results in Dublin when roadworks force the traffic lights out of action.

    I would remind cyclists and delivery people that it is just as illegal for them to use their phones on their vehicle (without a hands free kit) as it is on any other vehicle. I’d like to see the delivery companies to start fixing this oversight.

    1. george

      Great stuff, mobile phones that’s the issue. Nothing to say on segregated cycle lanes as called for by the letter just more whataboutery.

      1. shortforBob

        I agree with the letter, and many others have commented on it so I didn’t feel the need to repeat them.

        I could have phrased it better but it comes down to the larger problem of people simply not PAYING ATTENTION!!! (Pedestrains, cyclists, motorists, sure we’ll always have mornings where we didn’t get our coffee but deliberately failing to pay attention is the problem I’m addressing.)
        The other more minor point I was making that companies should be held accountable for their delivery people.

  12. pedeyw

    10/15 out of how many cyclists? This nonsense black and white, us vs them thinking is idiocy. There are bad cyclists and there are bad mortorists and there are bad pedestrians. Screaming “IT’S THEM DOING THE ACCIDENTS” is unhelpful and disingenuous.

  13. Termagant

    I cycled into town every college day (at least every college day I attended whuh) for 4 years, with the odd exception for when it was a manky day or I was hanging too hard, and I was never knocked off my bike. That said, I’ve always cycled, I’m good at cycling, by the time I started cycling into town I’d had call it 10 uninterrupted years of cycling instinct in me. There’s a problem in that some cyclists in Dublin are reckless arseholes, sure, but there’s also a problem in that some cyclists in Dublin are just not skilled cyclists and have no business whatsoever taking a bicycle out into the midst of a busy city. The kind of crowd that picked up a €900 hybrid for a song under Bike-To-Work and left it in the shed until eventually a lovely summer day came along and they decided they were capable of taking it through College Green at half 9 in the morning. That’s not to say there aren’t also thousands of fupping awful drivers out there but it takes all sorts to make all sorts, is what I’m saying.

  14. Airey Naïve

    It’s worse during school term time with all those extra SUVs ferrying the fat little bunters the 3-5km to the local Educate Together. Schools are part of the problem. They should ensure no kid is dropped off by car to school or picked up.

    Cyclists are also too passive in response to aggression from vehicle drivers on the street – it ranges from using the vehicle to endanger cyclist lives to shouting abuse at female cyclists. Happened to me recently. Driver won’t do it again in a hurry. I caught up with him at the next lights. Good luck with that VHI co-pay.

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