Flann O’Brien named bicyclosis for what it is; an exchange of matter between two seats. Yours and the bicycle. So what might you call the exchange of molecules between tyres and tar-sealed paths? Roadiculosis perhaps?
Lycra may or may not be a barrier to bicyclosis, who knows. It didn’t exist, the Lycra that is, in O’Brien’s time. A double blind test should be devised to asses the gnarly arse muscles of the lesser double breasted cyclists that sweep across the pandemic narrowed roads above the cave of St Augustine. Some observers are certain that many of these cyclists are organ donors on a mission to donate. Perhaps spent cyclists will recycle their glutes as well.
The helmets of the striking, breeding-plumaged cyclists continually flashed by with speed and a reliance on clairvoyance needed to reach Sunday lunch. Listen, I used to cycle long distances myself once upon a time but I truly believe that I was more considerate and less self-entitled than the current cohorts of pedalist tourists that swarm the streets where I live. Five km is your limit and since we live on the coast, the fetch is only 5 km from one side. So where the heck does all the Lycra get washed each night?
Yesterday the bicycle lane in Dun Laoghaire was blocked by a 7 series BMW with a mandate for your inconvenience displayed in the front window. RNLI lifeboat volunteer. I heard the outraged cyclists utter vile invectives, approaching from the rear, the mandate displayed out of their sight to the front. I could see the RNLI volunteers down below at the boat shed by the National Yacht Club. They were standing around talking among a plenitude of unoccupied parking bays. Volunteer AED&P (arrogance, entitlement, disrepute and pointless) rather than cyclistic WTF and Jesus H Christs sprang to mind.
Above sprocket tensions ran high.
Talking of tension, the proposed bicycle lane on the coast road in Sandymount was blocked by the High Court last week. Traffic calming isn’t quite the city planners’ justification you need to save a planet if there’s a travel restriction of 5 km. Besides, many locals object to driving extra distances to go to what would no longer be local shops after the diversions for newly one-wayed roads.
This evening the Nationwide TV program on RTE featured the very same cycle lanes. Talk about putting a good spin on things. Coincidence, propaganda or what? Listen again; I’m in favour of increased pedal power and cycle access but not at the cost of the major inconveniences it brings to the people who live here. There is no effective alternative public transport system once access for cars is restricted. Shopping by car takes twenty minutes, door to door, and I can carry a week’s shopping on one trip. Last time I did the same by public transport took two hours. And it would take three trips to carry the week. That’s a nine times penalty – that’s a day’s unpaid work.
And let’s talk access issues for women. All of these new cycleways suit men. Straight from home to work on the grounds that buses needed to be supplemented for pandemic social distancing. No diversions to hospitals, schools, carehomes, the doctor, the dentist or other places women might need to access when the men are at work. No public toilet facilities for women who have children. I watch the people on the bicycles. They have been 80% male. And it’s still women that carry the social burdens in this society. Don’t shout at or shoot the messenger please.
It’s all getting very roadiculous.
O’Brien is much on my mind at the moment because we attended a zoom launch of The Lost Letters of Flann O’Brien as edited by Gerry McGowan and Andrew Sherlock. A series of letters were found (or not) in the Palace Bar (or not) that were sent to O’Brien (or not). Among them, a note from Pink Floyd’s Syd Barrett who said it was ‘mad that you like bicycles too!’ (or not). And Muhammad Ali wrote that ‘I had a bike when I was twelve, but it was stolen … and that’s how I came to boxing’ (or not).
O’Brien died On April Fool’s Day 1966 so you could say that the bicycle debate has continued to be very roadiculous in these parts for a long, long time.
‘There is a better way. And it’s a pretty simple one: we must increase female representation in all spheres of life.’
– Invisible Women by Caroline Criado Perez