Normally I dislike framing any conversation around cyclists versus motorists, we are all individuals using the road and all individually responsible for our actions, we don’t behave as groups on the road and therefore should not be referred to in such a manner.
But yesterday was the day that new on the spot fines for cyclists came into force. Now of course all road users should abide by the rules of the road, even if the majority of those rules were written with very little thought given to cyclists. One of the rules which could now attract an on the spot fine was of course, breaking a red light, and rightly so in most cases.
However, I think most people would agree that we don’t see as much enforcement of the rules of the road as we would like. I certainly see a lot of breaking of the rules of the road on my daily commute, 90% of time by motorists. Some people don’t believe me when I tell them this, so yesterday I decided to conduct an experiment and show an honest reflection of how many cyclists versus how many motorists broke the red lights on my cycle home.
I think it’s reasonable for limited Garda resources to concentrate their enforcement efforts on road users that are likely to cause more harm on the road. When you compare a 2 tonne metal car with a 15 kilo bicycle, the balance of danger is pretty obvious. Of course I’m not saying individuals, who happen to be using a bicycle, should get away with breaking the rules. All I’m saying is it is common sense to concentrate enforcement efforts where the dangers are highest.
So last Thursday evening I headed off on my long time favourite route up the Dublin hills to old Miltary road via Kilakee view point. I was on my bike and the sun was shining, what more could I ask for, I was definitely in a good mood. A strong head wind made for a chilli enough descent back down the hill, but I’m not complaining.
My good mood continued on my route home through Tallaght village, that was until a particular Dublin bus driver decided that passing dangerously close to me was a better option than waiting two seconds for me to pass the bus stop before him. When I informed the driver that he came dangerously close to hitting me, his response was mostly complete disinterest. He even managed to get in that phrase that I hear so often from drivers, ‘Oh I didn’t see you’. Unsurprisingly this put a downer on my otherwise enjoyable spin. I have sent a complaint to Dublin bus today and I’m waiting on a response.
Several days later after I enjoyed the long weekend, I’m uploading the above video and I notice that it was been exactly one year since I have uploaded the now famous other encounter with a Dublin bus driver. What a coincidence I thought, not a very pleasant coincidence mind you.
That was a scary encounter, probably less so because of the bus veering towards me, but more so because a professional bus driver threatened to run me over. I have had buses veer very close to me many times on the road before, but something about the venom in that man’s voice really made me believe he was capable of running someone over. And it left me on edge for some time afterwards. So much so I changed my entire cycle route into town in order to avoid ever cycling on the Dublin quays again. And I still have not cycled that route since.
Even one year on, nothing has been done about it as far I can tell. I first sent a complaint by email to Dublin bus and after few weeks (if my memory serves me correctly) I eventually just got an email back saying something resembling ‘His manager is dealing with it’. And that was it. Two weeks later I needed to get the bus to work, and guess who was driving it. I said good morning, and he sort of scowled and looked away, not sure if he recognised me or if that’s just how he greeted everyone.
It was at this point I was thinking more and more, this guy almost ran me over, actually threatened to run me over and is still out driving amongst there vulnerable road users. It was these thoughts mostly that prompted me to then report the incident to the Gardai, after all he did clearly break the law when he crossed the solid white line into what is still called a ‘mandatory cycle lane’. No longer mandatory for cyclists to use them, but still mandatory for motorists to stay out of them. The first response I got from the Garda at the station when reporting the incident was… “That video on Youtube?… I saw that, I don’t think the bus driver did anything wrong”. It was at this point my heart sank and I realised that no consequences will ever come from this road traffic incident. However, I proceeded with giving the Garda my details, and surprise, surprise, I never heard from him again.
I’m not sure what else I can do, I continue to encounter very dangerous behaviour on the roads and yet nothing seems to be done about it. I have had several close passes from Dublin bus drivers in the past, but I have only managed to capture video of, and upload a few. Stuff like this actually happens so often that I some times forget about them when I get home and clear the camera memory before realising what I have done. The below video is another encounter I eventually remembered to upload late last year.
Again I sent a complaint to Dublin bus about this one, but because it was a few weeks before I uploaded and due to the fact that Dublin bus took so long to investigate it, the eventual outcome was the following: “Unfortunately due to the amount of time after the event that the video was sent in we are unable to identify the bus”.
So now I am just left hoping that it does not take a serious incident before something is done about what seems to be repeated dangerous behaviour from Dublin bus drivers.