Too afraid to cycle in Limerick City, but don’t be

Cycling in Limerick
My little son breaking all the rules: cycling on the footpath, no helmet, up against a truck.

One week I counted four people I spoke to about making Limerick (Ireland) into a pedestrian-first city. Just friends, neighbours and colleagues, as I had come across an interesting idea about Liveable Limerick (PDF) around that same time.

Each of the people basically said to me:

I won’t cycle into Limerick City. I’m too scared, it’s not worth it. My specific fear is that a person in their car will drive into me. My human flesh and bones are at risk because of people driving in Limerick city.

First of all, what an outrageous state Limerick is in when people are afraid to take to their own city.

The game is rigged. The Road “Safety” “Authority” and friends have the game already won. But that’s not enough of a reason to sit in your petrol-powered wheelchair.

Is it worth cycling into Limerick city? ‘Tis.

This is from my own perspective. I live in the city, 2km from the centre. I don’t have roads with speed limits faster than 50km/h (funny story: the residential road I live on, with my kids growing up there, has the same speed limit as primary city roads!).

OK, to those of you who are afraid:

  • Don’t design your life around fear, without questioning that fear
  • Each of us who gets out on our bikes makes the growing cycling culture in Limerick stronger for each of us. You’re contributing to something bigger than yourself.
  • Drivers are used to people cycling. There’s an old excuse “We’re not used to people cycling”. Ha! Cyclists are a constant feature of Limerick city.
  • The shared bikes scheme has legitimised upright-cycling without helmets
  • If you live in the right area, you can probably go a good portion of your route on cycle tracks (despite our planning of commuter connectivity)
  • You’ll feel better when you get to work. Even if you get pissed off on the road just like everyone else, you’ve done so while building a little exercise into your day. You’ll be more effective at work for it.
  • Get an upright bike, stop leaning forward. Stop racing people in their cars. They’ve paid their motor tax and have a right to use the roads. You also have a right to use the roads.
  • Don’t hold up traffic – yield to walkers at traffic light junctions, and the move through the junction, so you don’t hold up people in their cars when the lights go green
  • Don’t go on the inside left of drivers. Don’t fall for those fake cycle track areas at traffic light junctions. It’s a trap. You’re making yourself vulnerable by others being able to cut you off and “not see” you. Take your place on the road if need be.
  • Wear your normal clothes, not clown reflexive jackets. Do grey cars have to wear reflexive jackets? Indeed they do not. Don’t dress like you’re up for a fight, dress like you’re a human going to your work. The human eye detects motion to an unbelievable extent. By moving on the road, you’re visible. Put your lights on at all times for extra bling (just think of them as fog lights you forgot to turn off).
  • Connect with other like-minded Limerick people. Have a look at what @LimerickCycling are up to.