AS our expected population grows from 28,000 people currently to an expected 35,000 people by 2026, UCD need to encourage more people to commute to UCD by sustainable travel methods (public transport, walk and cycle).
Approximately 7000 trips to UCD a day are made on a bicycle. By 2026, UCD hopes to increase the numbers walking and cycling, which collectively make up 34% of UCD commuters now, to 38%.
UCD really do seem committed to making UCD a more cyclist-friendly campus. (Although there still aren’t enough) they have added many more bike racks over the last two years. Last year, they even shortened the speed bumps in the Clonskeagh entrance to UCD so that cyclists could pass by them safely.
There are now also showers, changing rooms and lockers (some of the lockers are even free to use) available for people who commute to UCD by bike in the student centre and science building.
With the expected growth of cyclists in mind, it might be useful for UCD’s current and future cyclists to bear a few things in mind to keep themselves and their bikes safer.
Get Lights, Use Lights
First make sure your bike has lights and keep a set of lights in your bag. A white one for the front and a red one for the back. Even if you know you won’t be staying in college late enough for it to get dark, you’ll still need lights on your bike if there is heavy rain or fog. And anyway, having them there means that if you stay late, you can still get home safely.
Apart from anything else, it is actually illegal to cycle at night time without at least one white or yellow light on the front of your bike and one on the back.
Make sure you are visible. You can get specialist cycling rain jackets that are reflective, waterproof and breathable but they are upwards of €60. If that’s out of budget there are reflective vest you can wear over your coat for just €1.50 in most pound shops where you can also get reflective armbands. You can also get reflective tape to stick on your bike, reflective gloves (great for turn signals), reflective covers for school bags and reflectors that can be attached to the front and back of your bike or the spokes of your wheels.
No one is going to go to lectures in the bike shorts but rain trousers are a very good idea – it is Ireland! And as uncomfortable as sitting in a lecture in skin tight bike shorts might be, a wet arse is also less than pleasant.
Overtake only at appropriate times
Don’t be that guy that knows the cyclist in front of you is going too slowly so you overtake them in-between the cyclist and a car or worse, break through a set of lights to get ahead of them. Remember you aren’t cycling in a race, you’re cycling to UCD. Wait to overtake.
Keep your bike maintained
If something is squeaking get it checked before it becomes a problem. This will save you money in the long run. There is a bike shop on UCD campus and UCD estate services occasionally run a mobile repair service.
Ways to make your bike safer
As already mentioned, you can get reflectors and reflective tape to attach to your bike and the more visible you are the better. You should also get a bell. Again it is actually illegal not to have one on your bike and again they are dirt cheap and available in most pound shops. Sometimes visibility doesn’t work, especially if you are behind a massive truck, a bell will help.
Make sure you’re bike isn’t stolen.
Both that you didn’t buy a stolen bike and that your bike won’t be stolen.
Lock your bike with two locks. Not just one and two different kinds of locks is what UCD Estate Services recommend. Use a U-lock to lock the back wheel and frame and a cable lock on the front wheel.
Make a note of your bike’s serial number so that if it is stolen you can give it to the Gardaí. You can also register your bike at sites like www.bikeshepherd.org which takes you through the steps of registering your bike for free. You can also check to see if the bike you are about to purchase is stolen there too.
If your bike is stolen, report it to the Gardaí. Did you know that anything stolen worth less than €500 doesn’t require you to visit a Garda station to report it? You can do it through their website.