Cycling on footpaths an accident in the making
Your correspondent, Michael O’Donnell (Irish Examiner, Letters, October 15) highlights the problem of pedestrians being endangered by speeding cyclists on footpaths, and questions, rightly, why the law is not being enforced.
But the law is anything but clear.
The previous transport minister, Paschal Donohoe, introduced a range of fixed-charge notices (FCNs), concerning cyclists, in 2015, but failed to include cycling on footpaths.
Instead, he introduced one for cycling with undue consideration, which means cyclists are allowed to use footpaths, provided that they are not openly hazardous to pedestrians.
An Garda Siochána are expected to use discretion.
Donohoe confirmed this in an email, dated July 25, 2015, to his Fine Gael colleague, Jerry Buttimer TD, in which he stated: “It is both necessary and appropriate that cyclists use footpaths, where there is danger on the roadways”.
A classic Irish solution to an Irish problem.
Donohoe introduced these irresponsible changes with the full support, inexplicably, of the Road Safety Authority, knowing they contravene the time-honoured Rules of the Road, which state on page 195: “Never cycle on a footpath”; and, under Cycling Safety: “Don’t cycle on footpaths”. The Road Traffic Acts, 1961 to 2014, enshrine the exclusivity of footpaths by stating: “Footpaths are for pedestrians only”.
The problem is exacerbated by the appalling state of urban roads and the shortage of dedicated cycle lanes.
Freedom of Information documents show that Cork City and County Councils, in seeking funding of €172m in 2003, for the development of the nine so-called green routes, made several commitments to government that the routes would include: “Dedicated cycle tracts and increased footpath spaces for the safety of pedestrians”.
In most cases, these commitments were never honoured.
Now, to add to the danger and confusion, both councils are currently flouting the law by printing dual cycling and pedestrian logos on standard footpaths in the suburbs of the city, further endangering pedestrians.
It is incumbent on the current Transport Minister, Shane Ross, to issue a clear statement and introduce an FCN for cycling on footpaths that removes the confusion and complies with the Rules of the Road and the law.
An Garda Siochána must be instructed to prosecute all illegal cycling on footpaths.
As Mr O’ Donnell says: “Please do not wait for an accident, before taking action”.
Why are women in need of abortions?
This letter is in response to an article by Caoimhe Daly, of an abortion rights group, last week, and generally in relation to the discussion regarding the importance of the 8th Amendment to the Irish Constitution.
We have become a people with no long-term view and no strategic planning, whether as a government, a community, or as individuals.
We have become focussed on the now and not on the future.
We overeat, become sick and diseased, then later rely on medicine to limit the damage.
We spend too much time on social media, for instant gratification, and suffer loneliness and seclusion in the long-term.
‘Firefighting’ best describes our approach to many of life’s problems.
It works like this: because of lack of knowledge of fire-prevention, combined with an incident, such as a gas leak, a fire starts, resulting in damage, injury or death, and we react by trying to put the fire out.
So how does this relate to the abortion debate?
We must look at cause and effect.
In the example above, the cause of the fire is not clear.
If we drill down, we might find that the wrong pipe or thread was used and the effect was that gas leaked, causing our fire.
The way to stop a fire is not to invest in fire appliances and sprinklers, but to ensure that the correct knowledge is applied to the root cause.
Waiting for the fire to happen is too risky; we may not be able to control it, and we may get burned.
We must do the same with unplanned pregnancy, or enforced pregnancy through rape.
It is not a question of women being ‘worthy of medicinal care’.
To attempt to differentiate between pre- and post 13-week abortion is again to miss the point.
If we wait until the unplanned pregnancy, we have already subjected the woman to the uncertainty of lack of support, care, and love.
We are too late.
We have allowed the root of the problem to find an anchor.
Have we asked what are the root causes of unplanned pregnancy and what are the best pro-woman, pro-child, and pro-family methods that can be used to stop reoccurrence?
Do we need more and more ‘free’ traffic through our HSE and taxation system?
We must seriously evaluate the throwaway culture, be it of babies, health, food, waste, or water.
What are the likely consequences of our actions?
It is only through looking at the consequences of behaviours that we can plan.
In the allegorical example of the fire, the solution lies in determining the root cause and what was wrong with the method.
We must look at what has changed in our society and country that necessitates this debate, not ‘fire-fight’ the outcome.
We need a two-pronged approach, the first dealing with why so many men are abandoning pregnant women. Why is the disincentive to rape not working?
Why are babies being born into financially insecure situations?
We must attack the root cause, not the two innocent victims: the woman, and the child.
Through tackling these whys, we can considerably reduce the incidences of unplanned pregnancies.
The second prong is compassionate and loving support.
Abortion debate: rhyme or reason?
I was delighted to see a poem in the Irish Examiner Letters pages.
it was a contribution to the abortion debate.
I feel we struggling poets are often shunted to the sidelines, as more prosaic prose and opinion grabs the front-page headlines.
But my views are in opposition,
To your faith-infused stanzas and your certain supposition,
That our pro-choice aspirations stretch to geriatric euthanasia.
That anti-choice scare tactic is simply a fallacious fantasia.
(Something possessing grotesque, bizarre, or unreal qualities: An apposite definition, from the Merriam-Webster dictionary)
Now I’m not a believer in an omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent deity,
I live in a world where a woman’s choice is exported, and that’s their reality.
You talk of God’s stone-scribed commandments, and the fifth specifically,
Deflecting again from the moot issue of woman’s right to bodily autonomy.
And while your depiction of granny is poignant and bittersweet,
Equating her to an amorphous bundle of foetal tissue is a deceit,
I find distasteful and disturbing... and I’ve no womb to care for.
But this being a short letter, I should wrap my arguments, and therefore
I will desist from any further meanderings, other than to remind you,
That we pro-choice, pro-women folk, are living, loving humans too.
Teachers have much to learn
It is with disbelief that I listened to Education Minister Richard Bruton on RTÉ, last Sunday, inviting the ASTI to further talks.
The minister states any talks will have to be in the context of Landsdowne Road.
The ASTI wants talks without preconditions.
What, then, is the purpose of the invite?
This pampered union has the notion it has rights above those of all other beings, even those in the TUI and INTO.
For far too long, the ASTI have been trying to manipulate the education agenda, not for the benefit of the students, but rather for that of its members.
It has had some success, due mainly to the weakness of successive governments.
This time, ASTI has to be taken on full face.
Let them strike, but do not concede.
If they succeed, this country will become ungovernable.
The GRA’S position is similar, except it doesn’t carry the historical baggage of the ASTI. Its demands cannot be conceded, either.
It beggars belief educated people in both unions cannot, or will not, comprehend the stark facts that this country owes €200bn, and there is no surplus for special pay awards, especially not for people who have security in their jobs.
I would love to hear Fianna Fail make a statement on this, but I am certain they will be a sitting on the fence, if the response of their education spokesperson, to Mr Bruton, on Sunday, is anything to go by.
Public deserves more from JPC
The Joint Policing Committee (JPC) public meeting in County Hall next Monday October 24, is a good example of how democracy does not serve the people in Ireland.
It’s supposed to be a public consultation but they want all questions emailed before, their excuse for this is they may need to research the answers.
What a load of rubbish.
If the County Manager and Head of Police can’t answer our questions off the cuff then there is something seriously wrong.
They only see fit to put aside half an hour for the public to comment on the policies for policing for the next six years.