As someone who regularly strolls around the streets of our capital city with my white cane for company, I have come to the conclusion that on one of these fine days, or more likely not so fine days, a cyclist will get me. Take me out. Ambulance. A & E. High dependency unit. Intensive care. Hospital mortuary. Funeral home. Crematorium. Solicitors office. The will . The lot.
In short I feel doomed.
Now you would be well within your rights to tell me I’m overreacting a little or that I have a tendency to see things a tiny bit on the dark side or that perhaps I’ve been having a few too many pints with that Darth Vader bloke (he’s a divil for a pint or two). And that I really do need to get out a little more often.
So here’s the rub: I actually do get out quite often. I am a regular walker on the Clontarf seafront and in the great facility that is the Phoenix Park and an even more regular stroller across town from my apartment near Ha’penny Bridge to Chatham Street, where I have been known to occasionally darken the door of a particular licensed premises on that pleasant little avenue.
And when I venture forth on these epic journeys, taking my life in my hands, making my way across city streets having received the nod of approval from the relevant green man, it is the demonically possessed individuals on two wheels that I fear the most.
The drivers of motorised vehicles, for the most part, appear to me to be in possession of the vast majority of their mental faculties. They give every impression of being quite civilised individuals. At times they even stop when they don’t have to in order to let me cross.The kind of people that I often converse with in my chosen licensed premise, normal people, if such a thing does actually exist. On the flip side of that particular 50 cent coin, exists those strange species on two wheels, otherwise known as cyclists. They are quite a different kettle of shark.
It seems to me they are permanently in a hurry, possibly on the point of giving birth and in search of the nearest maternity ward. Even the men. So why do they do it? Is it actually the case that they really are all pregnant and on the cusp of delivery? Maybe they have gotten wind of some life enhancing event that requires their immediate attendance. Or maybe, just maybe, they feel that traffic laws don’t apply to them. These laws are only for those other law abiding suckers such as drivers and pedestrians.
In a previous life, I was a cyclist. In and out to work in the city centre from Dublin’s northside, and the occasional cycling holiday. Diminishing eyesight meant a change of practice. Often I would miss the occasional articulated lorry when out and about on the bike, so eventually the time came when I put my trusty Raleigh Merlin out to pasture and embraced the wondrous world of public transport. There is only one winner in an argument between an articulated lorry and a bicycle.
These days cycling for me is a spin on a tandem in the Phoenix Park with my friends John and Sandro and a very pleasant coffee in the lakeside cafe at Farmleigh House.
In my day, I was not by any means the perfect, law abiding cyclist. Occasionally red lights at t-junctions were ignored, but for the most part I towed the line. A far cry from the current crop of madmen and women on two wheels. I have lost track of the number of times they have whizzed past my nose when I have the right of way.
There are times when I get a little angry. Times when thoughts of revenge float through my mind. Times when I consider alternative uses for my white cane. Times when I wonder what exactly might happen were my cane to somehow become accidentally on purpose entangled with a cyclists wheel. Not that I would ever do such a thing.
It’s just a thought. An extremely tempting thought.