IrishCycle.com is reader-funded journalism. To keep it going and free-to-view, it takes people like you to act now and subscribe today for €5, €10, or €20 per month.

“In Dublin, I was bemused by the surprise and sometimes horror that people expressed when I explained that I cycled.”

COMMENT & ANALYSIS / GUEST ARTICLE: Never before in my life have I had to explain to people why I cycle, let alone defend my choice of transporting myself on two wheels rather than four. Never before, that is, until I came to Dublin. The first time I came here, as an Erasmus student in 2009, I was bemused by the surprise and sometimes horror that people expressed when I explained that I cycled.

But, with me being Dutch and, more importantly, a student with no money, people sort of got it. On top of that, as a young student on an international adventure, I felt invincible and as long as I avoided O’Connell’s Bridge, the traffic didn’t scare me. (The same could not be said for my parents who, when they came to visit me, took one look at Dublin traffic and ran into the nearest bicycle shop to buy me a helmet.)

Now that I am back, ten years on, and I am a thirty-something professional, I am scared witless and I am not sure whether this is because Dublin traffic has increased so much or because I am just getting old.

Also, the horror and surprise expressed by people is more serious and, strangely, seems to contain more judgement. Surely, if I cycle at this stage of my life, where I can comfortably choose any other mode of transport, cycling must be some sort of statement: an expression of my identity, my political views – I must be one of those vegan climate madmen or a car-hater.

So, while people think I cycle out of hatred for things, there also seems to be a hatred towards me for the simple fact that I choose to go to places on two wheels. This was, in fact, the most difficult thing for me to get used to when I started cycling in Dublin, even more so than the lack of safe cycling infrastructure, or the lack of traffic law enforcement.

Hatred not just from professional drivers like taxi drivers or truckers, but also from a large percentage of everyday commuters. This culminated a while back in me bursting into tears after having been beeped at (beeped sounds so friendly! It was not) for just standing still on a road while waiting to turn right. I did not burst into tears because this particular person beeped at me at that particular moment, but because it felt like the culmination of 18 months of being bullied on the road, of being considered a nuisance, for the simple reason that I was a person on a bike.

It is difficult to explain to people in Ireland that — to me — cycling is the neutral option. In fact, I myself had never thought about it until I experienced the cycling culture in Dublin. I do not cycle because I hate cars, or pedestrians, or because I hate anything really – rather, I cycle because I love it.

I love that it’s quick and cheap, I love that it gives me an independence that even the best public transport could ever provide, and I love the pure joy it brings me.

Now that we are rethinking the streets of our cities, I sincerely hope we can also rethink our attitudes towards those who use them, because changing the infrastructure of our city will be successful only if we also change the infrastructure of our minds.

IrishCycle.com is reader-funded journalism. That means it's funded by readers like you.

Subscription drive update: IrishCycle.com reached its target of 270 subscribers by the end of August -- thank you to all who have helped! Our new target is to have 300 subscribers by the end of 2022 -- originally this was hoped to be exceeded by the first year of running the site full time (end of October).

If you can help push IrishCycle.com above 300 subscribers, please subscribe today for €5 or more. If you have already done so -- thank you!

Please remember, every month there's a natural drop-off in subscriptions due to people getting new cards, cards stolen, Revolut not topped up etc.

***

IrishCycle.com is a reader-funded journalism publication. Effectively it's an online newspaper covering news and analyses of cycling and related issues, including cycle route designs, legal changes, and pollical and cultural issues.

There are examples, big and small, which show that the reader-funded or listener-funding model can work to support journalism -- from the Dublin Inquirer and The Guardian to many podcasts. To make it work for IrishCycle.com, it just needs enough people like you to believe!

Monthly subscriptions will give IrishCycle.com's journalism a dependable base of support. But please don't take free access for granted. Last year IrishCycle.com had an average of 15,800 readers per month and we know our readers include people who cycle and those who don't, politicians, officials and campaigners.

I know only a small percentage of readers will see the value of keeping this open enough to subscribe, that's the reality of the reader-funded model. But more support is needed to keep this show on the road.

The funding drive was started in November 2021 and, as of the start of June 2022, 250 readers have kindly become monthly subscribers -- thank you very much to all that have!

But currently, it's only around 1.6% of readers who subscribe. So, if you can, please join them and subscribe today via ko-fi.com/irishcycle/tiers

Cian Ginty
Editor, IrishCycle.com

3 comments

  1. Well put Menheer Stam. I wish Ireland were different but when the herd plough in one direction anyone who does not conform is seen as odd and an object of derision. That will change with time through the efforts of yourself and the people who follow irishcycle.com and all of the cycling groups across the country. As a nation we need active travel for so many reasons – health and fitness (we are the second most obese country in the EU and the second most car dependent….) as well as our duty to reduce pollution and make our towns and cities places for people rather than cars.

    Reply
  2. Absolutely agree. The best part of cycling is the fact it is fun! The fact it enable me to get some exercise, and saves me money are happy bonuses. What I like most about cycling is the sense of freedom, and being out in the world.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.