EDITORIAL: We all need to be active stakeholders when using Dundalk's footpaths and roads
I like cyclists. I think they are a great addition to society. And they are a force for good when it comes to the environment too.
Plus, they are also more likely to be healthier than the average Joe and therefore, statistically speaking, less likely to cost the HSE and thus the taxpayer more money in the long run.
But, saying all that, there are a tiny selection of cyclists locally - you know who you are! - that seem to believe it is their God-given right to cycle - at pace - along the town's footpaths.
Now, the hint is in the word itself - FOOT-path, they are not CYCLE-paths.
However, several times this week, and numerous times over the past number of months, I have had to tread very carefully along Dundalk's town centre pathways, and I have even on occasion been forced to, rather ungracefully, dodge an oncoming cyclist on the footpath in front of me.
Either that or risk injury in a nasty head-on collision.
I know full well that there are not enough cycle lanes in the locality - there are some mind - of which there has been almost incessant debate about over the years; but this is a separate issue to that, and I have been a keen supporter of cycle lanes in Dundalk - once constructed and implemented correctly, and with due concern for all the involved, of course.
Simply put though, what gives a cyclist the right to cycle at speed along a busy footpath and put in jeopardy the health and safety of pedestrians walking there?
Surely dismounting and pushing the bicycle along the footpath until you are ready once again to re-embark and continue your journey on a cycle lane or road, is the right thing to do?
This is not meant as a rant, by the way.
This has been a very noticeable ongoing issue for a while now and little has changed.
Perhaps it will take a cyclist colliding with an elderly/infirm pedestrian on a footpath, causing a serious injury, before something will be said or done about it.
On the flip side of this is the need for pedestrians to take due care and be more accommodating of cyclists and cycle lanes in general.
It must be quite difficult, at times, for cyclists to traverse cycle lanes when people cross over them with little awareness or heed for possible oncoming bicycle traffic.
Add to this the state of some of the roads in the town centre and you can understand, to an extent, why cycling on our local roads can be an onerous and potentially costly affair.
This is something that needs to be seriously addressed by the local authority.
Over the past few years, due to the almost incessant laying of cable and piping infrastructure, the town's roads have taken an almighty bashing and there is rarely a week that goes by were another road is not disfigured and scarred by another such effort.
The patchwork repairs following such digging usually leaves the road a lumpen, uneven mess, akin to Cavan’s drumlin country plonked right into a town centre.
This simply isn’t good enough from the local authority and needs to be remedied quickly.
Saying this though, no matter the state of a road, cycling at speed on a footpath is simply not acceptable. It is outright dangerous.
We are all active stakeholders when it comes to negotiating our roads and footpaths.
Therefore we all must accept responsibility in ensuring that we do our bit to make them both safe and accessible for all concerned.