Philip O’Neill is a Civil Servant from Belfast and a keen amateur cyclist.
Spring has sprung early and is most welcome following a very challenging winter for us all. Along with daffodils, lambs and brighter nights, we now see middle-aged men oiling their chains, pumping their tyres, checking their brakes and seeing if the lycra still fits. As someone who cycles it has to be recognised that there are significant health benefits, not just physical health but getting out into the countryside, seeing those lambs and daffodils can’t help but bring a smile to your face.
As we have a particularly poor transport infrastructure I am also a car user and must say I do love my cars and the freedom they can offer.
Spring is the time of the year when both these modes of transport come together to share the roads, and unfortunately, this is not always a good fit.
It is very frustrating to see a trend in cyclist’s clothing towards black clothing. Yes, they may have some reflective strips here or there, but these tend not to work well during daytime cycling. Get yourselves bright jackets and shirts, see and be seen, safety must come before fashion, I have a signature bright orange jacket and people tell me they can see me coming up the road from near a mile away. As well as the right clothing and lovely slick tyres the single most important item is your helmet, the one on your head. They do deteriorate over the years, so consider replacing them, hope you never need it, but just in case. It is also good that, for the most part, cyclists get out on the road early before the roads get busy, so keep doing that.
Car drivers, the roads, without exception, are in a very poor state of repair. There are potholes everywhere, but particularly on the side of the roads where cyclists are. So allow space when overtaking to allow cyclists to avoid potholes. Also, you have the power under the bonnet to get up hills and out of situations, other road users may not.
The laws of the road have not been changed for generations. Like the law that allows me to drive down my street at 30 mph. To share the road safely please apply a little more common sense. Yes, the law allows you to ride two abreast, but on narrow country roads, it would not be a challenge to ride single file on tight stretches. Also, it is great that cycling has a social side and it is great to go out with 4 or 5 friends. However, I have seen groups of 30+ cyclists simply hogging the road.
Car drivers, please stop sounding your horn and flashing lights, if you are feeling frustrated take a deep breath, make internal jokes to yourself about the big lad with the knees sticking out trying to keep up with his mates, but then consider that could be you. Keep calm and you will get there.
So keep safe, share the road, be sensible and remain calm.
This is a guest slot to give a platform for new writers either as a one off, or a prelude to becoming part of the regular Slugger team.