Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Is This Legal?

Ireland has some very interesting quirks, we all know this by now. One of the more annoying ones for me is their mixed adherence to safety standards. One one hand, they do a great job of encouraging the use of high-vis safety materials on cyclists, pedestrians, kids, and pets... but on the other hand...

Where do the Walkers Go?

Nailed it.

The local custom on many busy streets is the sidewalk parking job. Residents, delivery drivers, contractors, and others routinely pull this stunt all over town. Drivers seem to easily forget that the road belongs to cars, the bus lane to buses, the bike lane to bikes, and the sidewalk to pedestrians.

I've had cars cut me off on my bicycle to pull up on a cycle lane for a quick park- sometimes blocking the cycleway completely. This leaves me with two choices, neither of them desirable:

  1. Swerve out into the bus/taxi lane or the road itself to navigate around the illegally (?) parked car.
  2. Get off my bike, pull it up onto the sidewalk, walk it around your illegally (?) parked car and back onto the bike lane before continuing.
Such a reckless and selfish act surely must incur strict penalties from Ireland's crack police force, An Garda Siochana... Well, not that I've seen.

I've struggled around one of these cars while a pair of cops on the beat walked by and smiled at me. I've seen the Garda cars drive by rows of these treacherous urban icebergs without pause, which makes me wonder... Is this legal, or just laziness on everyone's part? 

My guess is the latter. People here (including the police) have an unofficial motto: Ah, sure it'll be grand! This seems to mean something similar to the Hawaiian hang loose. In stodgy American English, this means: 

Just roll with it, if they made a really selfish and thoughtless choice, they probably had a good reason, and the inconvenience, risk to personal safety, loss of life or property, or other setback you've incurred can't be that bad, right? Ah, sure it'll be grand!

Why should anyone waste time policing parking? That would mean getting the clamp (cars aren't towed away here- they are fitted with a tire clamp), writing the ticket, and inconveniencing someone else to pay the fine and remove the clamp. That's a lot of trouble to go to when it would just be easier to walk on by with the assumption that it'll all be fine.

...Sometimes I feel like a chump when I follow the rules.


  1. Pretty sure it is just laziness. I can kind of understand where I am because the streets were built before cars existed and there is no where for my neighbours to park their SUVs. But for the most part I think people just prioritise their parking and forget that even in Ireland people walk sometimes.

    1. Residential streets probably need a case-by-case solution for SUV (?) parking- but I usually cycle on the big dual carriageway with bus lanes and bike lanes. It makes me want to scream that this is allowed!


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