Cycle-Lanes And Cyclists
Sir, - Eamon O'Brien's belief (December 29th) that there ought to be a legal requirement for cyclists to use cycle lanes where they are provided has, I believe, some merit. However, before the enforcement of any such law it should first of all be a condition that the lanes are well designed, properly constructed and suitably maintained. That is, they should be smooth and uninterrupted, be of adequate width, as well as being clearly marked and sign-posted; most importantly, junctions must be carefully thought out - all of the qualities, in fact, which the Stillorgan cycle-lane, Mr O'Brien's prime example, seems to lack.
There is a simple reason why large numbers of cyclists do not use this facility. For much of its length, it is less safe to be on the cycle-lane than to cycle on the adjacent carriageway. Whenever the lane meets one of the many small side roads, cyclists must yield to emerging traffic; if however, one was to cycle on the road, then priority is given to the cyclist over this emerging traffic. This is plainly ridiculous as it means there is an immediate disadvantage to being on the lane. Added to this are the problems of appallingly-maintained surfaces with their abundant, rim-crunching potholes and kerbs, and the tight and twisty chicanes.
Thankfully, the standard of newer lanes is improving. This comes following the recent publication of the Dublin Transport Office's "Cycle Guidelines Manual", and also as a result of the constructive criticism given to local authority roads (and cyclelane) departments by cycle campaigning groups around the country.
I'm not alone in hoping that the next generation of cycle-lanes will be flawlessly designed by cycling engineers and planners, and that the only complaints then heard will relate to the bicycle jams on the routes arising from the throngs of born-again cyclists. - Yours, etc.,
Damien O Tuama,
Schaarbeek, Brussels, Belgium.