Yesterday I cycled from my home in Dublin 6 to Maynooth, a distance of about 23km (or 16 miles in old money). I am not ordinarily disposed to such a long cycle but I recently bought a second hand mountain bike for €60 from some bloke in Ballyfermot (livin’ on the edge eh?) and I wanted a bike at the other end of my commute in the Co Kildare town. As you might imagine, having campaigned actively for the re-election of John Gormley, now the (#spits#) minister for the Environment, I am a keen cyclist because quite simply I think that pedal power works over distances that seem at first thought unreasonable. I am trying to wean myself off the authoritarian streak I have had in the past regarding car drivers and city centre cyclists and edging more toward a rights-based approach to cycling. Anyways….
I took a 1 hour 20 minute route through Crumlin, Walkinstown, Ballyfermot and Palmerstown and on to the N4 at the M50 junction, currently going through freeflow renovations. Let me tell you that there are some very difficult junctions on the route from the Palmerstown roundabout. Because many drivers are not expecting to see routine cyclists on this road, despite the fact that there is a joint bus and bike lane for some of this route, this is an incredibly dangerous cycle. When passing badly designed junctions like the one exiting the Liffey Valley complex – heading west – I had to ensure that drivers coming from my left could see me, see me signalling, ensure as best I could that I saw that they saw me, then manoeuvre and move to the left into the hard shoulder. This was at about 12.45pm on a Sunday. I shudder to think what it might be like at rush hour when drivers tend to put the foot down because they move from a minor to a major road within 50 metres.
The road surface on much of this part of the route (from the Chapelizod bypass to the Leixlip slip road) is also unsuitable for cycling, and I was cycling a thick-tread tyre. This, while also trying to avoid the assorted debris to be found on the roadside: rubber, wood, washers, wire, broken branches, all add up to a less than pleasant cycling experience on a sunny October Sunday. The only consistent stretch of coloured cycle track since Harold’s Cross appeared at the far end of Leixlip town, guess what? On the approach to Intel’s factory! So it seems that Intel are given the right impression when whizzing along in their Lexuseses and Mercedeses but the rest of us plebs are left with inadequate and sporadic cycle tracks. It wasn’t all bad though: reaching the near end of Maynooth village having done the 6km from Leixlip in 20 minutes and cycling over the canal twice and the Liffey once were probably the only highlights. I don’t think I’ll be repeating this dirty, noisy and frightening experience any time soon again.
I got the train back, which explains the photo above. From Maynooth to Connolly took about 25 minutes which was just grand. I then went to see Anton Corbijn’s Control at the Film Centre. That’s for tomorrow though.