There has been a huge increase in campaigns promoting cycling and increasing its popularity around Dublin city in recent years.
Dublin Bikes is a service which has 44 stations of bikes dotted around the city. It allows a person with an account to use these bikes to get from one station to another, eliminating the worry of having to lock your own bike in the city centre, or sit in traffic.
The bike-to-work scheme is aimed directly at people commuting to and from work. If the employer agrees to get involved they can either pay fully for the bike equipment or the employee can accept a salary sacrifice. Either way, the scheme allows for a tax-free bicycle and equipment.
With all these recent incentives, one wonders why we haven’t yet adopted the Dutch attitude towards cycling. Let’s be fair: there are many reasons not to get astride a bike in this city. The cycle lanes that inexplicably disappear and the drivers that don’t see cyclists, or I swear just ignore cyclists until they’re forced to make death-defying turns or breaks, being just two reasons.
There’s also the hills in the city that you can only fully appreciate when you’re exhausted and sweating your way up the Ballymun road – and of course, what Ireland is all about: the weather. Rain or shine- and it’s mostly rain – you strap on that helmet and settle on your saddle preparing to battle the elements in order to arrive at college or work, or worse – social events, looking like you’ve been dragged through a bush backwards.
With a combination of all these obstacles, one wonders why anyone would bother to cycle at all? Well it’s not all doom and gloom: there ARE multiple benefits to be gained from cycling. Early morning crowds and inexcusably high public transport costs are just two things which incentivize cycling.
We are asked to pay €2.40 for a 10-minute bus ride? No thank you. I am a student after all. How about the early morning crowds? But think about those bus memories. Sitting on a stuffy, hot, overcrowded bus in a dark, early morning desperately trying to listen to your Ipod while the passenger beside you sits uncomfortably close and all but breathes down your neck, making it impossible to take off your coat to cool down. Sounds familiar?
Let’s look at the health benefits of cycling: it’s an inexpensive way of working-out and it gets you to your destination. A mere twenty minutes of gentle cycling will burn 100 calories and regular cycling makes you as fit as an average person 10 years younger.
The truth is that in-town cycling is often the quickest way to get around. Traffic can pile up around rush-hour all over the city. Be it Griffith avenue, Fairview or city centre, you can find yourself sitting in a car for a good 35 minutes or more when a bike would make the journey in half that time or less.
Cycling is a great way to experience the city centre – you’re agile enough to dart down those cobbled streets of Temple Bar and fast enough to escape from those charming drunks screaming abuse at you. Its cheap and cheerful and a great way to give the environment a big old hug.
If you’re at all considering jumping on your bike next time you need to pop to the shops or into town, then be armed with these few handy tips.
ALWAYS lock your wheels when locking your bike; just loop the lock around the wheel and the body. Pull the lock tight and don’t let it fall to the ground – if the lock is on the ground those baddies out there with a hammer can easily smash it against the ground and BAM you’re a cyclist without a bike. Oh and if you’re cycling around at night do put lights on your bike – a visor and a helmet are preferable but if neon yellow and helmet hair isn’t your preferred look then do at least have lights.
Cars can easily miss a cyclist and although it is technically always a driver’s fault if he hits you I don’t think it’s worth the hassle of injuring yourself to prove this.
If this article doesn’t inspire you to go for a pedal then perhaps these wise words from our good old buddy JFK will – ‘Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of a bike ride’.