COMMENT & ANALYSIS: Cllr Mannix Flynn is a bluffer and blusterer. On issues relating to cycling and walking, the level of bad faith arguments he has put forward is epic.
When council officials were recently outlining upcoming walking and cycling projects, Cllr Flynn recently asked officials how he could object to them all.
Regular readers should know he is a buffer — the news reporting on this website shows that, and it shows that he’s not just interested in objecting to cycling projects.
He has argued for pedestrian priority at traffic lights to be reduced, this website has reported on such here. But this isn’t something he has raised once or twice, he keeps bringing this up at council meetings.
Not only did he join in the court case against the Sandymount cycle route trial, but he also made vague threats that Dublin City Council’s pedestrianisation plan will face a Court challenge if done quickly.
But many others who are not following walking and cycling issues as closely may not know that Cllr Flynn has a chip on his shoulders about bicycles and people who cycle. But not just that. He has also objected to changes to the streets relating to pedestrians and public transport (because he sees it as being privatised). Newspapers and radio stations are often only happy to platform his bad faith arguments.
His arguments in an article he wrote for today’s Sunday Independent should be read as if foaming-at-the-mouth… and shouting now and again. You don’t have to do much to imagine this — he regularly reacts angrily at council meetings on different issues when his views are challenged.
Cllr Flynn wrote: “Is it now time to regulate the owners and users of such vehicles [scooters, electric bikes, cargo bikes] in a similar way to motorbikes on the road, as has been done in the UK and around Europe?” This is simply an argument made in bad faith or with an inability to understand facts.
Normal electric bikes and cargo bikes are not being treated like motorbikes anywhere around Europe and the debate/promised review in the UK is a hate-filled one pushed on by the hatemongering Daily Mail. We don’t need to be importing that nonsense from the UK.
“No licence is necessary, no form of vehicle registration is required, no training, no age restriction. All you need is the ability to pedal and away you go – most of the time free of any consequences or rules,” wrote Cllr Flynn. When he mentions age here, is he talking about 5-year-olds on bicycles?
Not likely. He’s more likely talking about the inner-city children and teenagers on bikes etc, some of who are out of control (added for clarity: that’s not to say all inner city children on bikes are out of control). Is licencing really going to fix that issue? No, it’s not. It would more likely distract from the policing and social interventions needed.
“How do you make it safer”, Cllr Flynn asks as if he hasn’t objected to projects which make cycling safer.
And then he adds “…and ensure those who are using this form of transport are responsible and accountable on the roads and in our streets? You must have a TV licence, a dog licence, a busking licence, but you don’t need a licence, or indeed any form of registration, for a vehicle that can travel at substantial speeds, can be powered by batteries and can cause serious injury to individuals.”
Ok, let’s say for a second that nobody has thought of this idea before. Let’s pretend that countries and cities have not looked at licencing bicycles and/or their users and let’s pretend that it isn’t unworkable and ineffective.
Let’s pretend that it’s 2024 and there are number plates on all bicycles. Now, what happens when Cllr Flynn starts reporting cyclists for running red lights? We don’t need to imagine we know that the Gardai often dismiss lawbreaking of motorists. It varies from division to division but people with camera evidence are often turned away or it’s dismissed by their bosses.
Even when the Gardai bring issues to Courts, many District Court judges are far too sympathetic to people who have clearly been caught breaking the law while driving. Worse still, they are strangely sympathetic to many repeat offenders who have racked up points.
There’s no denying that there are “reckless and anti-social behaviour and disregard for safety displayed” by all road users, including some cyclists. But when Cllr Flynn claims: “In the case of a poor motorist, you can get the registration, you can hold a person to account, you can identify them,” that’s at best a simplification.
He also claims that there “there’s no legal instrument that actually holds [cyclists etc] to account” — this is simply not true. There’s a big difference between a level of enforcement and “legal instruments”. There are “legal instruments”, ie laws, to hold people on bicycles to account.
Cllr Flynn wrote that “I’m not going to bamboozle with statistics around accidents on our roads and fatalities; we know it’s dangerous and many people get killed and seriously injured” — there’s a reason for this the statistics are not on his side. The statistics show — as they do across the world — that motorists are the main danger, not just by a slight bit, but massively so.
Sadly, in the last decade, a pedestrian was killed and a cyclist killed in two different walking/cycling collisions in Ireland in the last decade.
In the grand scheme of things, people walking and cycling cause around the same level of risk. This is often denied by people who don’t cycle (and by some who do).
This year over 100 people have been killed on our roads, a significant increase from recent years and months left for things to get worse.
The bad faith arguments from Cllr Flynn only get worse.
He tries to counter any criticism by saying that he’s “well aware there are those who will see this as an attack on cyclists. They will argue it is a disincentive to people giving up their cars…” and then goes on to write: “In terms of cycling being egalitarian, it is worth noting that very little cycling infrastructure is deployed in working-class areas.”
This claim from Cllr Flynn that working-class areas are not getting cycling infrastructure is one he’s made a few times. But the reason why it’s so bad faith is that when cycle paths and walking improvements were provided on the Sean Moore Road, Cllr Flynn falsely claimed that residents (in cars) are “hostages in their own homes”.
If people in blocks of flats are looking for secure bicycle parking, as he says, why then as a councillor is he not looking to improve their situation, rather spending so much time objecting to cycle routes?
Cllr Flynn wrote: “The simple bicycle is no longer a passive instrument, it is being weaponised by political parties and elites who constantly try to shame us when we challenge them about the reality and impact of certain cyclists’ bad behaviour.” But, yet again, this is loaded with bad faith. Cllr Flynn has devoted far more time and energy to objecting to cycle routes than he has challenging bad behaviour.
Many of Cllr Flynn’s proses ring hollow compared to his record. He writes that “People with disabilities, elderly people, children and vulnerable individuals are placed in danger on a regular basis by unregulated cyclists”, but the truth is that those people are let down even more by Cllr Flynn — and fellow councillors — who hinder the provision of safer infrastructure which properly separates people walking and cycling.
Of those who do cycle or who would like to cycle if conditions were better, they are poorly served by the action and inaction of Cllr Flynn and fellow councillors. This includes disabled people, and people who are young and old.
Lines such as “We must address this as we make the switch to carbon neutrality…” ring as hollow coming from Cllr Flynn who has previously said he’s all for walking and cycling while continuing to object to projects which make both safer.
At one point in the article, Cllr Flynn argues that “Looking down the road, the private sector rent-a-bike and rent-a-scooter markets are going to explode on our streets, and if we don’t have clear legislation in place, chaos will ensue”, yet, what he calls the “private sector rent-a-bike” sector, has been operating in years now and there has been little to no chaos evident.
Nobody is denying that there is some problematic behaviour by many cyclists. Nor is anybody denying that there are some reckless cyclists who need to be sanctioned. But licence and registration is a solution in search of a problem.
It’s a solution that may be understandably put forward by some people who are frustrated by the behaviour of some cyclists. But, for anybody who has thought for more than a moment about it, it should be clear about how impractical such a system would be to implement, how unlikely it would be to be effective, and the very likely waste of policing resources if it was implemented. The data, practical experience, and relative levels of risk we’re talking about means licence and registration for bicycles would go against logic and reason.
CORRECTION: This article has been edited to reflect that a pedestrian was killed and a cyclist killed in two different walking/cycling collisions in Ireland in the last decade.
Cian, you need to get on to the Sindo editor and demand a right of reply, not just a letter to the editor, but an article with similar word count to Mannix Flynn. I’ll be writing to the editor myself.
Cian, do I detect a touch of social class snobbery in your article against young people from poorer backgrounds? Or is it just the way I read it?
Personally, as a cyclist I dont like E. Bikes or Scooters in the Cycle lane. That is be they professionals, students or anybody else. But cargo bikes are most welcome.
Mannix Flynn, on the other hand…Sorry, I just cant take that guy seriously, in anything he says about anything, particularly cycling.
Just me not skirting around an issue. Messers on bikes cause a fair bit of the issues Mannix and Co complain about re cyclists flying around in footpaths. Commuters for the most part aren’t doing that. But knowing Cllr Flynn and others they are likely just as upset by older lads hardly moving along on footpaths to avoid some of the most dangerous. Not ideal behaviour but nobody is putting them in cuffs and number plates won’t solve it. Making cycle routes and the roads safer and more attract will.
But the “messers” are not exclusively belonging to the working class. In fact, in my opinion, by far the worst messer’s are students and professionals. They are mature enough to know better, wealthy enough to have better kit and big enough to go on the roads but insist on e.g. using footpaths or, when on cycle lanes can be quite inconsiderate and aggressive. But no one is going to call them “scumbags” and put them in cuffs. BTW, I think there should be an age restriction of 16 years for any battery operated scooters or bikes, as they are motorized vehicles. e cant play into the hands of fanatics like Clr Flynn.
I think both Cian and yourself are guilty of Egocentric as well as possibly Confirmation bias. Isn’t this what we accuse the likes of the Flynn of; picking some personal bad experience and blowing it out of proportion? There are of course inner city kids zooming around recklessly on Fiido’s just as there are lycra clad idiots on 3 grand bikes flying through the city mowing down anyone that gets in their way. Neither is representative of more than a small minority of cyclists and turning it into a class issue is hardly helping your cause. Here in the suburbs, the vast majority of people cycling on footpaths appear to be schoolkids that are afraid to cycle on the road (and yes that is also anecdotal). Funnily enough they rarely get attacked or even mentioned by Mannix who’d rather pretend all cyclists are at it.
Ha ha ha ha, AKA, you are misrepresenting (opportunistically, because of YOUR Ego) and it aint going to wash with anyone whose read either comments. Ha ha ha ha.
What are you, 12? You are both guilty of bringing your personal bias into this. There are jerks in every walk of life but most people at least try to be considerate to others. Accusing one group of being worse than another is what professional shit-stirrers like Mannix Flynn make a career out of.
Just for the record, my eldest is was born in the city centre and would be technically still an inner city child if we had stayed there. I’m not sure if it’s as much as a class thing as much as it’s mainly working class teens in the city centre. And nobody is saying all children and teens are at it.
I where I mention children and teenagers who are messers I’m talking about problematic ones speeding around on footpaths etc. While most children on footpaths aren’t a problem for most people, I don’t think it serves anybody to pretend there isn’t some going around on footpaths that are problematic, including some adults too.
For the record, I didn’t call anybody a scumbag and I don’t think that kind of label is helpful to anybody.
Can we keep this civil please or I’ll have to lock the comments? Thanks.
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