‘Sexy’ cycling and the need for education

 

Sir, – With so many children now glued to devices and obesity rates rising, it’s a compounding shame to see that the incidence of girls cycling to school is also tanking (Sylvia Thompson, Health, October 23rd).

First disturbing observation is how quick the conversation turns to self-image and the need to appear “sexy”.

What has happened to society when people’s self-consciousness has been so debased, I suggest by trash TV, that putting on a helmet is an issue.

Second, Senator Gerard Craighwell on Pat Kenny’s radio show, paints a picture of Dublin as being hostile and dangerous for cyclists.

Living in a Munich, I find that cycling is a way of life for most people.

Not because they are crusty nerds who think they are better than everyone else but because it is the fastest means of transport and is safe and largely enjoyable. Why is that?

Three reasons: 1. Cycle lanes are the outermost extension of the footpath. This means we do not cycle with cars, so there is an immediate safety aspect that painting a strip on a road will never achieve. 2. Bikes have priority and special dispensations in many instances, eg. bikes can cycle the opposite direction on one-war streets, cars must give bikes priority going straight even when the traffic lights are green for cars to make left or right turns. 3. Education. Kids have to take cycle training in school up to and including ensuring their bikes are street legal.

The driving education and test enshrines the idea of pedestrians and cyclists being the main priority users of the infrastructure.

If we at least could start with education we might get somewhere. But I understand there is no longer any cycle training. Shame on us.

Like most people my age (47), I grew up on a bike, then ditched it as soon as I could drive. Moving to Munich 11 years ago reacquainted me with the two wheels again and it is an enjoyable, quick, easy (no parking), cheap and healthy option.

We really need a genuinely serious and joined up approach to getting all ages to use bicyles. My observation is the only two jurisdictions Ireland looks to replicate are the UK and US.

I think we owe it to our citizens to look at more progressive and non-English-speaking countries for other options. – Yours, etc,

SIMON BLAKE,

Munich, Germany.