Challenge 4 on Active School Week; Since trees cannot absorb all the carbon being emitted on their own, cutting transport carbon is a vital issue. Even good-value bicycles are an expense most people have to think about – we relied in our house on Santa for our children’s early bikes. I’ve enjoyed 2 bike-to-work scheme bicycles (The Yellow Pearl and the Black Mambo); both beautiful bicycles. The grant also covered rechargeable lights, a good reflective raincoat and leggings and a lock. I am always very conscious that half the cost of my bikes and gear is covered by the citizens of Ireland. When such bikes are stolen it is thus a double theft as the Irish people who have contributed about half the cost of these bikes are also being robbed.
Apparently about 20k bicycles are stolen in Ireland each year. One in 6 people whose bicycles are stolen never replace them. With public money being invested at scale to set aside bike lines, we want cyclists populating them, right? With gyms and swimming pools closed, steal a bicycle and you are stealing someone’s exercise machine and perhaps their health. You are stealing their mode of transport and public transport is still restricted – how will they get to work or school? And what is the carbon cost of a stolen bicycle, in terms of the likelihood of this cyclist now getting back into a car. I was so very disappointed when my son-in-law to be-s bike was stolen in Dublin; he had only been less than 2 years living here. I felt ashamed he had suffered this crime. I have had bikes stolen all my life; my mother’s bike – a lock cut in college. The bike I got for my 21st birthday; from a garage, locked, taken with my husband’s bike by a van. Its replacement? I was pushed off the bike in the city centre, it was taken from under me. All of our 4 children have had their bikes robbed or an attempted robbery; with my middle daughter, they only left with the wheel which the Garda confiscated, meeting a gang of youths wheeling it along. The locks alone are very expensive to replace. I’ve taken to locking my bike in Drury St. car park now but the other 2 car parks I used to use are now shut to bikes – Clery’s and Kildare St.
Cycling in Dublin compared to cycling on the continent is really tough; the tramlines are a lethal trap, the fumes are dreadful and cars regularly skirt along beside one within a hair’s breadth. Extraordinarily, some drivers find it acceptable to shout out the window at a cyclist…only last week on Dollymount bridge a driver shouted “Hurry Up” to me when clearly the light sequence was designed for a speedy car as I was cycling briskly enough.
Suppose there was only 1 place in town you could park your car safely? I feel cross when I see a big flashing sign saying “Cyclists, Only 15 mins to Drury St. car park” if I want to go to Henry Street or the Quays. Set aside a percentage of every car park for bikes beside the office where there will be some supervision. Many churches such as my 2 local churches have large – often huge empty car parks and no place for bikes, what about some bike racks, nice and near the front door?
So what about a serious look at bike theft? To start with, make it the law that all bike sellers record the bike number when they sell a bicycle, new or old, then there will be some traceability. How about we ask all the Garda stations to with those etching machines, to please etch people’s postcodes or some identifier on the bikes in several places to reunite the 1 per cent of bikes which are recovered with their owners.