Dublin would seem to have great opportunities for cycling all-year around, since the terrain is almost flat and the weather moderate. Here are a few insider tips from one who has cycled the city's streets for years-on-end!
We highly recommend Vetting Ireland's Cycle Routes, written by John Walshe, author of 'The Kerry Way'. Packed with information about touring in Ireland, John reviews many of the best (and highlights the worst) Irish cycle routes. There is also a feature on cycling ex-rail routes in Spain.
A free sporting spectacle is coming to a town or city near you very shortly! Riders from the four continents are represented and the race is unusual in that local teams are allowed to compete with the professional teams! Come along and support the huge effort required by the riders - the racing is traditionally exciting and fast with the action starting as soon as the neutralised flag has been withdrawn. Incidentally, the sponsors FBD are Ireland's main farmers' insurers.
Dublin is a congested city with a lot of serious gridlock and frustrated commuters. While I have nothing against the majority of motorists, the usual small minority can make it a very dangerous place for cyclists, especially as there is not a lot of space on Dublin's narrow streets. There are two categories of cyclists out there - (1) cycle commuters and couriers and (2) leisure cyclists.
(1) Most commuters are a hardened bunch, having spent much time fighting for their space in the Dublin traffic. Cycle couriers are particularly adept at this and some will use illegal means to achieve their purpose, including footpaths, breaking traffic lights and going the wrong way down one-way streets. Having said that, while some find their methods annoying and sometimes dangerous, they are unlikely to kill a pedestrian when in contact. Commuters are increasing in number, due to the cost and congestion in Dublin. Cycle lanes and paths have started to improve the situation but there is still plenty to do.
(2) Leisure cyclists include tourists and occasional racing cyclists. Tourists often bring their own bikes with the intention of doing Dublin before venturing further into the Irish countryside. Bikes may be hired at several locations in Dublin and if you're a competent cyclist, this can be rewarding. I recommend weekends for exploring Dublin by bike since the traffic is usually not so heavy.
Cycle paths and lanes
You do not necessarily have right-of-way when using certain cycle paths - this contrasts sharply with the European paths where the cyclist normally has right-of-way. Cycle tracks built or painted on footpaths often have 'yield' triangles painted at junctions; you could keep your right-of-way by staying on the road at certain left-hand junctions! You usually have right-of-way on cycle tracks which have been painted on the road and are level with the road but watch for those triangles on the path.
Certain cycle lanes are only part-time, causing great annoyance and confusion to all. The best example of this is on Ranelagh Road since the traders objected to a total ban on parking for their customers. This results in a minority of drivers thinking that all cycle lanes can be used as additional parking - our overstretched Gardai could certainly lend a hand by giving out more tickets for illegal parking!
Certain junctions sometimes have advance boxes for cycles, allowing a couple of metres head start of vehicles. In practice, many cycles allow themselves a head start even where no such facility is provided. Look out for press-button cycle lights too - these are becoming more common.
It is essential that you have adequate lighting for your bike if cycling at night. The law requires a white front light (no mention of flashing front lights here), a constant red light at the rear and a rear reflector. Many cyclists including myself use a flashing rear light - I've never heard of anyone being stopped by the Guards and these lights are usually more visible. I would also advise wearing bright, visible clothing and/or a 'Sam Browne' reflective belt too.