Finian McGrath’s cyclist rant in tax dodging motorist debate

In the middle of a Dail debate about tax dodging motorists on Wednesday, TD Finian McGrath had a good old rant about ‘many’ cyclists being lawbreaking and, meanwhile, the picture is rosy for motorists — he says they are contributing to the economy.

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While we don’t like lawbreaking cyclists, they do little harm compared to lawbreaking motorists who kill and injury themself and others on a large scale. Attacking cyclists without any context of what other road users do is normal, but in this case McGrath paints motorists as tax paying saints.

However, McGrath does not seem to understand that, when health costs and the cost of congestion is included, motorists cost the state more than they pay in taxes. Most cyclists are also motorists — the current system has these cyclists paying motor tax for cars sitting at home (doing far less damage to roads, the environment and human health than people who always or mostly drive).

Here’s what he said:

…Given the substantial contribution motorists make to the State coffers, it gets up my nose that we are not listened to in the broader debate on how money is spent and the quality of road infrastructure, services and so forth.

It also gets up my nose when I encounter the anti-motorist attitude that prevails among a section of the cycling population.

Many, although not all, cyclists speed around Dublin, jump lights, cycle up one-way streets and clip the wing mirrors of cars caught in traffic jams. I regularly refer to these individuals as “Speedy Gonzales” types who arrogantly believe they are cool, clean heroes in contrast to motorists who are polluting the country. They should know that we motorists contribute €1 billion in motor tax to the economy and we also have certain rights. We should be listened to and taken seriously.

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  1. On my 2km walk to work this morning, half of which was with my children to their school, I encountered three cyclists on the pavement, two on Dublin Bikes, two with headphones in.
    I don’t drive, love cycling, would break the occasional light myself when there’s no traffic, have used Dublin Bikes since the beginning etc etc but I do find some cyclists behaviour leaves a lot to be desired.

  2. I am an everyday cyclist who on my run from kilmainham to the city centre encounter 17 sets of traffic lights. I can guarantee that at at least 16 of them, a car, usually a number of cars, and other cyclists will break the light and actually speed up on an amber light. I do not break lights. I used to, then I got hit by a car. Now I obey traffic rules. Problem is that no one enforces these rules. How can every set of traffic lights be broken by drivers and cyclists breaking the law? It is simply because no one enforces traffic law in city centre apart from the odd Garda on a motorbike. The only enforcement is when it comes to clamping illegal parking, and that depends where they are parked

  3. Indeed. Cyclists cycling up Merrion Row, against the traffic = no-no. But I’ve noticed it happening more frequently (4 times in 14 months).

    A much more common occurrence in the city centre is drivers breaking red traffic lights/green man pedestrian crossings – at speed.

    Yet nery a Gard to charge them for dangerous driving.

    Political priorities screwed arse-in-face.

  4. I cycle commute into town from Rathgar everyday via a number of different routes and everyday I see a motorist on the phone either holding it to their ear, or holding it up using the speakerphone or with a headset earphones in both ears, while driving. Given that this is illegal and dangerous, who is actively policing this.
    Plus also, not many motorist are aware that when stationary at traffic lights, it is still illegal to be holding your phone, even with the car in neutral, the handbrake applied and feet off the pedals as long as the engine is still running.

  5. I’m and every second day cyclist and everyday motorist, breaking the law or rules is a people thing, Eveyday I see motorists breaking nearly every road safety law, and I see cyclists do the same. But I never hear or letters to the Times or members of the Dail condemning motorists for jumping lights mobile phones, speeding. I never hear a TD complain about bad drivers killing people with their cars and negligence, no that’s a blameless event cars kill they go out of control and kill. Drivers dont. The RSA priced road death at over 800 million for 300 odd deaths a year thats expensive.

  6. I noticed last year that the Garda response to cyclists getting killed by drivers was to do spot tests in cyclists at traffic lights. I believe that is a great idea. Thing is, at the lights at the bottom of Great george street south, i actually watched while they singled out a cyclist who drove through a red light, and yet not the two car drivers who went through at the same time. Two weeks ago in Rathmines the gardai were giving out high visibility vests to cyclists because they reckon trucks cannot see them in the blind spot. Yet again, cheap fix blame cyclists, perhaps fix the truck visibility problem on the truck, not by lighting me up like a christmas tree

  7. How much did buying out the M50 toll fiasco cost? Upgrading the Red Cow junction? Multitude of motorways over the last few years? Does Finian think that all our motor taxes covered that? Plus yesterday twice on M4 I was tailgated for several miles at 120kmh so closely I couldn’t see the reg of the car behind me in my rear view mirror!

  8. I applaud the idea of law breaking cyclists getting caught by our boys in blue. It is a wonderful “new” idea. Of course, as a long time commuting cyclist (30+ years) I welcome the idea of these idiots getting caught. Maybe it will mean all those lunatic speeding motorists will get caught too. Now there’s a novel idea. Gardaí enforcing the rules of the road and not just at the time of “Operation Freeflow”. “Free for all”, more like.
    Nice one Finian, I am 100% behind you. Roll out the enforcement of the rules of the road, now there’s a way to finance the deficit in the country’s funding. Did anyone notice all those taxis driving at or below the speed limit last night? No!, Well neither did I. That’s because along will nearly everyone else in vehicles, they weren’t. Dublin Busses and trucks included. So when was the last time that a motorist and a cyclist were involved in a collision that the motorist was killed? That would probably be never!
    Enforce the rules of the road, NOW, for a bloody change!!!!

  9. McGrath is a former leftist who allied with FF during the last Dail. A vulgar populist of the Jeremy Clarkson variety

  10. At last, a TD who has stood up and spoken out against the moronic behaviour of cyclists on the road and also on footpaths. Fair play to him. Cyclists behave like they’re an endangered species while in reality they have become a proscribed group above criticism. They routinely take chances with their own safety when they mount footpaths and put the safety of pedestrians at risk in the process. Recently I was walking home from a night out with my mates and all of a sudden a cyclist mounted the pavement with no light on his bike and I almost knocked him over accidentally. He said ‘Ye nearly hit me you f….. b…..’. The irony that I didn’t see him until it was almost too late was lost on him. They frequently run green pedestrian lights, cycle against the direction of traffic on one-way streets and it has got to a stage that when you get off a bus pedestrians have to look both ways before you step onto the footpath! It’s taking the piss at this rate to be honest and the irony is that if a pedestrian hits a cyclist and knocks him/her over, the pedestrian is open to a potentially ruinous civil action. To be a cyclist means never having to say sorry for behaving like an absolute prick on a footpath while to be a pedestrian means never being able to feel safe on an area designated for you to walk on. The rules of the footpath should be easy to follow. if you have a bicycle, DISMOUNT!!! It’s that simple, otherwise, stop behaving like a goat or you’ll injure or kill a child or a pensioner. It’s about time there were more politicians who would follow Finian McGrath’s lead and stand up to the cycling lobby.

  11. Robert, if you think cyclists are “a proscribed group above criticism” then in fairness you must not turn on the radio, read newspapers or read the internet much.

    There’s no point defending illegal behaviour, but you do seem a little biased against cyclists — most of what you are saying applies to all road users. For example:

    [1] Today when cycling around the city I had to break or slow down for pedestrians jaywalking or otherwise walking out onto the road without looking or caring.

    [2] Some of these pedestrians will also tell you to fuck off.

    [3] I would also be open to a potentially ruinous civil action if I hit them even thought I was in the right and they were in the wrong.

    [4] There’s “absolute pricks” in all walks of life and they use all sorts of transport to get around.

    [5] If the rules of the footpath are so easy to follow why are there so many cars parked on footpaths?


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