My Bike and I


Gay Byrne, broadcaster

Why this particular bike? I rode bikes as a youngster, I had a few including a BSA Bantam. Thirty years later my re-entry into biking arose out of a present of a Harley Davison from U2 on the Late Late Show. I did 11,000 miles on the Harley and it was wonderful and terrific but I gave it to charity and it's now in the window of Vicar Street. I chose the Deauville because it's a much smoother, nicer touring machine and it's lighter and more responsive. The only thing is I'm always looking for another gear that's probably because it has a high revving engine.

What do you use your bike for? Mostly pleasure. I've done about 8-9 thousand miles on the Deauville but I don't get to ride the bike as much as I'd like. I go on runs, I've been to Donegal twice on it but I haven't been touring anywhere else around Ireland or abroad, I'm too busy. I use the bike as an excuse to deliver letters to people by hand and I like riding around the city.

Did you take any rider training course before you took to two wheels?  I had motorcycle training on the Harley when Fingal County Council's safety officer Seamus Kelly got in touch with me. RoSPA instructor Tom Kelly gave me instruction and I did the test and passed with flying colours. I think training is necessary, it's a disgrace that young fellas can just buy a bike without any training then go out and hit a lamppost. Training builds your confidence and it was necessary for me after 30 years. So far - touch wood - I haven't had any bad experiences or accidents. Training also develops your awareness - cars are extraordinary for trying to overtake you on the inside lane. On a bike you have to establish your presence and training teaches you that safely. I do filter a bit but not much.

Would you recommend any changes to the motorcycle test? I had a very thorough and robust test, I suppose the tester thought to himself this guy is 65 years of age and I'm going to make sure he can ride safely on the road. I do think it's incongruous that the tester is driving a car while you're being tested.

Do you drive a car? Yes I have a car.

Was there any family resistance or objections to your riding a bike? I retained an interest in biking through the years and I was wondering if I would ever get to ride again before I died so when I was given the bike I had to do something about it! I'm eternally grateful to the boys for giving me that Harley. When I don't go out on the bike, if I'm abroad, I really miss it; it's like a fix.

Are there any issues you think the Minister for Transport should address for bikers? Yes, I'd recommend Seamus Brennan open up bus lanes for bikers, he could easily do that in the morning. Eighty-five percent of cops on the beat turn a blind eye to bikers using the bus lanes, some would stop you and give you a fine but it's just silly. They allow bikers use bus lanes in Britain with the proviso that you stick to the bus lane and not weave in and out.

Any tips for survival on two wheels? Imagine everyone else on the road is out to kill you and always check your left-hand side. Motorways are probably the safest places to ride, and secondary and tertiary roads are the most dangerous, they're so bad with all the potholes so you could easily crash into a hedge or gatepost. The fellas in the white vans are the same all over the world, they drive too fast and are always in a hurry, they're gangsters and murderers.