The Derailleur

Anti-Cyclist Posters Appear in Howth

Apr
14

About 15 posters targeting cyclists have appeared on poles in and around the Howth area of Dublin in the past few days. They convey various messages either ridiculing cyclists or complaining that they are going too fast or too slow in the Howth area of the city.

Cyclist Dave McManus contacted Fingal County Council when he saw the posters while out on his bike in Howth and Sutton on Thursday. He told independent.ie:

“There was about two dozen in all starting at Sutton Cross and going up Howth Hill until The Summit pub,”

“Obviously someone having a pop at cyclists but I think in the current climate over obesity and lack of exercise, particularly amongst the young, I just thought they were very insensitive.”

According to local Social Democrats Councillor Cian O’Callaghan quoted in the Irish Times said “motorists irritated by cyclists and vice versa make up a small proportion of those who use the loop road. I think if people have concerns about cyclists they should speak to some of the cycling groups and open up a dialogue.”

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The Blood Sugar Diet & Me

Feb
28

There is a simple formula to lose weight. The simple formula is calories consumed must be less than the calories burned. Do that over time and you will lose weight.

By no means was the 8 Week Blood Sugar Diet easy. Everyone knows that food is fuel. It’s a simplistic fact. But, not everyone understands the way food is fuel. The only way to truely understand how your body uses fuel is to go without it for a period of time and witness first hand it’s affects. In extremes it can be fraught with danger. But the pangs of hunger are a painful and hollow reminder that without fuel we struggle.

Michael Mosley puports that the thinking behind his diet is simply that by losing a lot weight fast you will be buoyed on and encouraged to continue with the process. Guided by his cookbook it’s easy to compose a menu for a 7 day period. The trouble with it is sticking with it.

The basic routine is 3 square meals a day. The cold reality is that for 8 weeks calorie intake will drop to a mere 800-900 calories per day. There will be a little bit of fluctuation depending on the meals. When starting this diet I was off work, so it was easy to plan the first week and the hope was to establish a routine and a pattern reasonably quickly. The truth was with each of the meals more time was spent in the preparation of them rather than the eating. It was fun experimenting with the various recipes. Some were delicious and others were not to write home about.

In the early weeks hunger seemed to haunt me constantly. I felt myself going to bed early just to stave off the cravings and hunger pains. In the past I would eat until I felt full, but, with smaller portions I could not do this anymore. I did notice that 15-20 minutes after each meal the hunger would abate and as the food would release energy. I would not be what I previously consider to be full, but the hunger would dissipate.

 

As the days progressed the periods between meals seemed less and less. What followed in subsequent weeks was more energy. My body was beginning that it would have to work hard for it’s energy. The legwork A would tap into the fat reserves as my stomach shrunk. Excess volume was no longer needed in that department. As the weeks went by energy levels returned to normal levels. After laying off exercise for the first week I resumed spinning classes in week 2 with a small increase in carbohydrate intake to fuel the spinning class.As noted in the book as the pounds began to fall off. Each week the weight loss was a sign that things were working. Though eventually towards the end of the diets initial 8 week phase your weight loss starts begins to plateau slightly. As long as I was not putting on weight I felt I was winning.

Though I still remain skeptical of diets. I felt some of the habits like porridge as my first meal of the day and a lighter lunch at work will remain for the foreseeable future as I move onto the phase of the diet. 5 days of eating normal and 2 days of fast which resemble 2 days from the initial 8 week period. Weight loss from here on in will be a slow affair but I do believe that it is achievable with enough perseverance.

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On Cycle Lanes

Feb
22
This proposed law is not a cycling law. It is not a law for cyclists. It is a new law for motorists. It will not apply to the majority of motorists who leave space for vulnerable road users and treat them with courteous and respectful overtaking. It is not a law that sets out to punish but to raise awareness.
 
It is a law designed to protect cyclists from immediate harm and danger and to raise awareness of the serious nature and grave consequences of a close pass. in 2016 20 cyclists died on the roads. 0 people were killed by cyclists.
 
It’s a law mutually exclusive from red light jumping and any other cycling offences outlined by the naysayers. It’s disappointing to see the same old rhetoric about usage of ill maintained and oftentimes dangerous cycling lanes and how cyclists should use them. 
 
Think about it, a cyclist will choose to share a space with ill tempered, disrespectful, impatient drivers who feel themselves more entitled to a shared space because of the fact they have an additional bill receipt in their back pocket – it really says something about the general state of bike lanes in this country more than anything.
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Almost 25% of Irish Cycling Club Websites are Broken

Jan
30

Having spent a bit of time over the winter updating the website for my local cycling club. The question struck my mind as to how many club websites are out there. The easiest way to source these are through the Cycling Ireland Website. While there is no definitive list of club websites, there is a mechanism to view all the clubs and see if they have added a club website to their Cycling Ireland profile using their Google Maps of all the Cycling clubs in Ireland. I discarded all the Facebook pages listed and only tested Clubs that had an actual website. There were 261 sites in total.

How I Tested 261 Separate websites.

Armed with the list I wrote some code to test whether they were up or not. Basically the program would attempt to make a single connection the site and return a  HTTP Status code based on the result returned. The code used to test the websites is available via a Gist from my GitHub. The test was carried out at 8.00pm,  Monday 30th of January 2017.  The results of the program were then aggregated to produce the stats given. 261 Sites were tested in total.

Whatever about the websites that re-directed to other sites and locations. The startling bit to me was that almost a quarter of sites would not load and they threw an an error. This is not good news, as new members who may be in the process contemplating joining a club cannot get the relevant information required. If they can’t get your site to load from the URL given to Cycling Ireland then they will more than likely abandon their membership ambitions and go somewhere else.

If you feel your club’s website needs attention  drop me a line and I will be happy to point your club in the right direction.

 

 

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Understanding Punishment Passes

Jan
14

The majority of motorists are considerate of other road users, however three points regarding motorists are quite apparent from interactions with them whilst using a bicycle.

  1. Some motorists are not fully aware of the specific vulnerabilities of cyclists
  2. A small percentage of motorists infringe the safety of cyclists unintentionally and accidentally.
  3. A smaller percentage of motorists are recklessly endanger cyclists on purpose.

Point 3 specifically deals with what are commonly known as punishment passes. It is important to understand that this is a real thing and totally separate from a miscalculated manoeuvre. Although both are dangerous in equal terms, it is important to recognise and accept that there is contingent within the motoring community that drive with malicious intent and there are reasons for this.

A punishment pass in it’s essence is where the driver deliberately misses you by mere inches, usually revving their engine.

It is incredibly dangerous. There is a real chance the cyclist will look around and in so doing swerve a few inches onto a bonnet – this could have utterly absolutely catastrophic and disastrous consequences.

Here is my theory and I draw some inspiration from the BBC article on Altruistic Punishment from 2013. If you take it as a given that it is in the human DNA to hate cheaters and liars.  We are urged from an early age to act morally, responsibly and strive to do the right thing according to out own moral compass. So, from a motorists point of view cyclists are perceived as cheaters from the get-go and they stand no chance on being looked on favourably. It’s almost the same perception as when old people are seen behind the wheel. They are seen as menaces. Likewise younger drivers are perceived as maniacs. Science and statistics have proved otherwise but still these are popular if not unfair perceptions. Cyclists come prepackaged with their own prejudices.

Motorists according to themselves have, to a degree at least, earn their place on the countries roads. Perhaps this is due to the several hoops that they must pass through before they are deemed road-worthy.

  • They study and complete a multiple choice theory test
  • They participate in 12 driving mandatory lessons irrespective of their driving experience
  • They do a practical test over the course of an hour with a stranger
  • They shell out huge sums on Motor Tax (Road Tax) and insurance
  • The cost of the motor vehicle they choose to drive
  • The list is endless…

It can be an arduous process for a few and involve many repeat attempts the driving test on multiple times. You can imagine the feeling of satisfaction that follows once the final hurdle has been accomplished after perhaps many failures. To get over the line must be one of the best feelings in the world. So how does a once joyful individual go to being filled full of hate?

In contrast to a motor vehicle, there  is no license or test to ride a bicycle on the roads. Just owning or having the use of a bicycle gives you access to the roads. You can appreciate that the motorist now feels dismayed and betrayed by the system. What was hard earned is gifted to Cyclists. They are given a pass to seemingly ride easy and without fear of impunity on the roads.

Anti-Cyclist sentiment can be furthered by the popular media and their reporting of cyclist fatalities. It provides irritated drivers exactly what they need to affirm in their minds that a cyclist entitled legally to use the road is somehow the baddie.  Just for the virtue of being on a bicycle they have ear marked themselves as a target of despise and hatred.

Some motorists have an overwhelming feeling to right this wrong and this is where altruistic punishment enters the fray. Altruistic punishment, refers to a phenomenon in which a person or party is punished for violation of perceived rules by an outside observer who is not directly affected by the violation. In this case it could be a cyclist taking the lane to remain safe but on the other hand being perceived to “hold up traffic”.  The once even-tempered driver feels incensed by even the spectacle of the cyclist and flies into an uncontrollable rage. What results is a punishment pass. A driver is acutely aware of the consequences of potentially injuring someone but does it anyway. It’s over in a few seconds and the drive drives away unscathed feeling that a wrong has somehow been righted. The same cannot be said for the cyclist left in a state of trembling fear on the roadside.

Research says that the car when it comes to it is in fact the perfect vehicle to facilitate this sort of behaviour. It offers a snug self-enclosed bubble of protection by it’s locked doors. Psychologists claim that certain kinds of people develop a sense of anonymity and detachment when behind the wheel of their vehicle.  Imagine what you get when you mix all of these things together in that bubble: Entitlement, Anonymity, Power, Anger, Resentment, Ignorance, Narcissism – all the ingredients to a punishment pass.

 

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Tips to stay safe on Strava

Dec
17

The assumption to make is that thieves are willing to do a bit of detective work to find bikes to steal. The days of having a high-end bike chained to a lamppost are gone. Thieves are targetting garden sheds of unscrupulous cyclists who over share online.

The assumption to make is that thieves are willing to do a bit of detective work to find bikes to steal. The days of having a high-end bike chained to a lamppost are gone. Thieves are targetting garden sheds of cyclists and they are usinvg cycling social media websites like Strava to garner intelligence on potential marks.

Location, Location, Location

Privacy zones are important if you are starting off from when you start from home or the place where you frequently keep your bike. They basically create a black out zone around a particular location of a predefind distance so your comings and goings are kept secret from the general public and only your list of friends.

Stranger Danger

Be careful who you befriend on cycling social media sites. While it is flattering that people may give you kudos or like your activities please be aware that all that offer kudos may have alterior motives for their attention. Only befriend people who you trust 100% and that you cycle with or know.

Name your bikes accordingly

Bike names like Doris, Daisy are fine and will not turn the eye. Bikes called “Cervelo – Dura Ace” will garner more attention to the would-be bike thieves so nomenlature of your steeds can play a part to protecting your assets.

Choose non-descript names for your machines and refrain from sharing pictures on social media that would give away their location.

 

 

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Maynooth Cycle Lanes

Dec
09

Over the past couple  of months new cycle lanes have been installed into the main through-fare in Maynooth Town. The goal of the project has to install cycle lanes to make it safer for vulnerable road users.

The net reaction from local residents has been abject dismay for what seems to be a counter intuitive system that has left the main road into the village at certain points for two cars to pass. There have been numerous reports of minor collisions between vehicles trying to negotiate this new layout.

Frank O’ Rourke a local Fianna Fail TD this evening took to Facebook with an update regarding the situation.

I spoke with the council this afternoon on the issues raised. They confirmed as follows this project was designed to give priority to the cyclists/pedestrian given the number of both accessing the various services in Maynooth from this side of town. It’s funded by the NTA so it’s designed and installed based on their criteria for the purpose intended. It was approved by the Municipal District following a public consultation process. After discussing the concerns of recent days (entry/exit at junctions) with the council today they have confirmed that at the various junctions with estates etc that the cycle lane will be delineated in a red colour to highlight the junction and for caution etc. The appropriate markings will be all done once the construction of the project is complete. The project is motivated to give priority to the vulnerable road user on this busy road.

From recent posts on local Facebook groups, it is hoped that Kildare County Council will look at the construction of this project and revisit some of the decisions taken in the last number of months with a view to make some changes to make the project work for better for the local community.  The overirding concern from motorists is the possiblity of fatal collisions with vulnerable road users from the poor design of the new cycle lanes.

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Road Safety Act 2016 – Cyclists are mentioned..briefly

Nov
07

I was dismayed to read on social media that the current Minister for Transport, Shane Ross, ruled out further legislative changes for the protection of cyclists on our roads. The Minister stated today in the Dail that:

“My current priority in road safety legislation is the Road Traffic Bill 2016 which is focu
sed on measures to improve safety for all road users including cyclists.”

I was curious what the measures within in the Bill would affect cyclists. A quick Google finds the current working version of the legislation and also an explanatory memorandum. The memo for members of the Seanad best summarises the changes for cyclists as follows.

“Section 20 amends section 107 of the Principal Act so that it applies to pedal cyclists as well as motorists. Section 107 empowers Gardaí to require name, address and date of birth from motorists in specified circumstances and to arrest a person who refuses or who gives what the Garda believes to be false or misleading information. Section 108 provides Garda powers related to cyclists which are more limited and do not involve a power of arrest. As Gardaí may now issue fixed charge notices to cyclists, it is necessary to enhance Garda powers in dealing with cyclists. Section 107 is therefore being extended to cover cyclists as well as motorists, while section 108 remains in force.”

So in summary there is nothing within the act that offers protection to cyclists, just legislation to compel them to give their name and address to a Garda. It would seem a correction to close a loophole with recent changes to the legislation that changed the law to bring in Fixed Penalty Notices for cyclists.

It is very disappointing that recent representations from cyclists in relation to road safety and minimum passing distance laws has seemingly fallen on deaf ears.

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Cycling Ireland’s Stance on Key Issues

Nov
05

Cycling Ireland have released a document with their key stances on issues affecting cyclists. Here they are (http://www.cyclingireland.ie/cycling-news-item/cycling-advocacy/3292):

The Key Issues:

Helmets

We believe helmets certainly reduce injuries, and they are compulsory in Cycling Ireland events. We do not believe that helmet wearing should be a legal requirement as it would reduce the accessibility to the sport.

High Visibility Clothing

We believe that high visibility clothing certainly makes cyclists more visible. We do not believe that the wearing of such clothing should be compulsory, as we want to normalise cycling, cycling should fit into your everyday activity. We also don’t believe that the onus of safety should solely lie with the cyclist.

Bicycle Light

It is a legal requirement for bicycle lights to be used.

Cycling on Footpaths

We believe that competent cyclists should not cycle on footpaths. It is against the law to do so, and can carry a fine. There are challenges with this law that we would like to see addressed, the main one being with regard to children. If the roads are dangerous and narrow, we would prefer to see children cycling on footpaths than not cycling at all.

Contra-Flow

We believe that it makes sense to provide a space for cyclists to cycle contra-flow, as is the case in many countries. If the infrastructure and system was set up to support this it would lead to less congested streets.

Head Phones

We believe that wearing head phones can have a negative impact on riders. Due consideration should be given to their use.

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YS13FFE – White Mercedes Driver Near Miss – Kildare to Nurney Road

Aug
01

Sunday July 31st we had what for me was the nearest miss I’ve ever seen on a bicycle. An English registered Mercedes YS13FFE passed a gathering of us from Naas Cycling Club at speed on the Kildare to Nurney Road, attempting to overtake us with oncoming traffic

A driver, 02WH1517, on the other side fortunately with incredible foresight slammed on the brakes and came to a stop and in the process avoided a very serious accident.

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