More Articles About Cycling and Fashion

Another article on fashion and cycling.

This one, worryingly, seems to suggest that the reason women don’t cycle is because cycling just isn’t fashionable enough, but now that there are cute and retro cycling accessories at Topshop that could all change. Happily, some of the comments attempt to balance out the ridiculous line of thought put forward in the article (with the exception, of course, of the girl who thought cycling was too slow and that she couldn’t put up with ‘helmet hair’ all day).

What I personally take umbrage at – and this hasn’t been mentioned in the comments – is the suggestion that women can cycle and avoid the ‘greasy fingernailed, Masonic, very macho environment’ of the bike shop. It’s unrealistic to suggest that you can successfully cycle and maintain a bike to a decent standard without either a) having to go into a bike shop or b) getting your own fingernails greasy at some point. It would be better, in my opinion, if the author not only encouraged more women to cycle but also urged them to learn the basics of cycle maintenance and cleaning. Yes, you might end up with oil on your face and grit stuck in inaccessible parts of your nails, but your bike will run better and – dare I say it – look better too.

In conclusion – design all the headscarves, pannier bags and cycling capes (admittedly rather appealing, I have to say), Cyclodelic. Just make sure to include a set of Allan keys, long-nose pliers, degreaser and WD-40 (all in a natty retro-printed case, naturellement) next time.

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Non au Vélib-vandalisme

This story from the BBC news site has saddened me somewhat. If you’ve read my post from a while ago about the joy of using Paris’s Vélib scheme, you’ll understand why.

I sincerely hope that JC Decaux’s fears about costs don’t put a stop to the Vélib scheme – or, indeed, bike schemes in other cities. The sad thing is that this kind of vandalism and destructive, moronic attitude towards what is, from personal experience, an extremely good and useful form of urban transport seems to be an inevitability.

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Troubled bridge over water

One would like to say that the death of a cyclist on the south-side of Harold’s Cross Bridge yesterday morning is a wake-up call for the drivers, cyclists and other road users in Dublin city, but it’s difficult to say this is the case.

Personally, the event made me more careful when cycling home last night, made me act more kindly towards other cyclists and motorists, and made me feel kind of melancholy about being an urban cyclist.

I know the bridge well, and often head across it on my way up to Rathfarnham. The problems for a cyclist are identical to motorists’ problems: the bridge is too narrow. Two lanes of traffic on each side of the road compete for space on a bridge that is essentially only two-lane. Often buses (and in this case, fatally, a truck) complicate matters with their extra heft.

My solution when joining the traffic there is usually to err wholly on the side of caution and just sit behind vehicles, in plain sight, until the lights change, and then edge into the cycle lane on road on the south side of the bridge.

Is the answer to limit the number of lanes approaching the bridge, or to widen the historic bridge? Should we educate drivers of heavy vehicles in looking out for cyclists? Should cyclists be more aware of their own visibility, especially when close to large vehicles?

I’m not sure, but I know that the next time I cross the bridge it will be with some sadness.

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Anti-cyclist

A pretty horrible story here about an angry motorist running down members of the Dublin Wheelers Cycling Club while they were out on a spin in Co Meath earlier in November. The vehicle was actually travelling in the opposite direction to the cyclists. The driver then turned around after the cyclists motioned at him to slow down, approached them at speed from behind and, in the words of cyclist Wes Murphy, the group ‘went down like skittles’. Amazingly, only one cyclist (Murphy) was hospitalised.

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Car trouble

The centre of Dublin is in danger of grinding to a halt as a result of increasing car ownership in the next 12 years. Dublin City Council are searching for solutions to this problem, and the planning department will state in a forthcoming report that ‘there is no room for additional cars on the city’s roads.’

The solutions to the problem are quite obvious to anyone who uses the city’s roads on a daily basis: a reduction in car traffic, an increase in the availability (or, more likely, uptake) of public transport and a greater emphasis on better facilities for cyclists.

I was overjoyed to read the planners’ statement that cycling has the potential to ‘transform the city’s quality of life’. Yet what does it actually mean? It will be interesting to read how they propose achieving this potential: obviously, a knock-on effect of excluding car traffic from the centre of the city will be more space for cyclists, making it a more attractive option. And, let’s face it, making getting through the city much more pleasurable for those of us who spend their trips home from work constantly anticipating the jerkily frustrated manoeuvring of motorists.

I’d be interested to hear reactions to kerb-separated cycling lanes, though: as that’s one of the proposals of the report. I think the best cycle lanes are those painted on plain tarmac, as part of the main road; in my experience any other kind of lane either soon falls into disrepair, or necessitates a difficult rejoining of traffic flow.

Still, many of the other proposals are interesting and timely.

See Irish Times article here.

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Budgeting for bicycles

Ah, the Budget, the big and scary Budget. It’s being read out at the moment (live on RTE, mais oui), though if you don’t want to drown in a sea of figures and shouting from the benches, I recommend the nicely bullet-pointed version you’ll get on the news later.

So, what does this have to do with bikes? A lot, it would appear. I initially started writing this post in relation to Lenihan’s decision to impose a further tax of 8 cent per litre on petrol, which will clearly help to encourage people out of their cars and, one hopes, onto bikes. However, he has just announced that companies in major urban areas who provide car parking spaces especially for their employees will now have to pay an extra levy of €200 a year – and, more importantly, that tax incentives will be put in place to encourage people to cycle to work.

Good news, as far as I can see it, though perhaps on a day like today cycling doesn’t seem like the most pleasant option. Maybe that’s why certain TDs laughed when the word “cycling” was mentioned.

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Mapping cycle lanes

The Dublin Transportation Office have mapped Dublin’s cycle lanes on their site here. According to DTO director John Henry:

We hope the maps which show on-road and off-road routes, will help persuade non-cyclists to venture out on their bikes for the first time and they might encourage experienced cyclists to try out new parts of Dublin when out for a cycle.

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