Dublin Street Rules OK!

"The driving is like the driving of Jehu, the son of Nimshu; for he driveth furiously". (Kings 2 [9:20])

Prophetic words - the biblical writer undoubtedly had the benefit of a crystal ball and was gazing through his crystal ball upon the streets of present-day Dublin.
For the unwitting, the unschooled or the downright foolhardy who are contemplating taking to the roads of our Capital city, we present a helpful guide - a few tips that are not found in that unread tome, the Rules of the Road

WHITE LINES: Nobody has discovered the purpose of these mysterious markings on the streets of Dublin. Every street is lined with them, like giant versions of those cardboard cut-outs that bear the legend: "tear along dotted line". Apparently, that's just what you do

Taxi parked in "cycle lane"
TAXIS: Every taxi licence comes complete with a copy of the "Rules of the Road for Taxi Drivers". The secrets of this booklet are about as accessible as Salman Rushdie's phone number. Taxis are allowed supplementary privileges not bestowed on the common man, like u-turns regardless of traffic, stopping anywhere at all for any time at all, using bus lanes like race tracks, and driving contra-flow on one-way streets. Don't even try to figure them out. Taxis can park anywhere, anytime.
Alternative Cycle Lane
(this is why they 
use the footpaths!)

BUSES: There is a sign at the back of Dublin buses: "Please let buses pull out".
This is a private joke by the bus company -
Dublin buses never pull in!  

THE HORN: Use at will. Great contraption for venting anger at the masses. Musical varieties are best for enraging other drivers - entertainment at its very best to pass the time in traffic.

LIGHTS: Driving on parking lights gives you a better chance with the walking sub-species. Using dipped heads will give the average pedestrian the unfair advantage of seeing you coming.

RED LIGHTS: Colourful ornaments to brighten our city streets (possibly erected as part of an earlier millennium-type occasion). Stop only if car in front stops first. If you have to stop you can usefully pass the time clearing your nostrils of accumulated debris.

GREEN LIGHTS: It is wise to slow to a crawl going through green lights - remember what you do at red ones...

HAZARD LIGHTS: Probably the most useful addition to the modern mechanically propelled vehicle. Park anywhere, any time - even double park. No matter where you are, just switch them on, and leave the vehicle. There is no time limit on this facility. Especially useful on vans and taxis.

REAR FOG LIGHTS: Brilliant inventions that totally dazzle everyone behind you. Some fools will try to retaliate by flashing headlights at you. The solution is simple - make sure none of your mirrors are pointing towards the rear.
CYCLISTS: Lawless louts who weave around like they own the place. They all hate motorists and blame the car for all the ills of the world. Ignore them. Extra marks for hitting one at night as it needs great skill to spot one in the dark.
A typical cycle lane on Dublin's O'Connell Street
FOOTPATHS: These double as cycle lanes, great for pedallers in a hurry to avoid the mad motorists. 

MOTORCYCLES: Noisy anti-social machines, customized and stripped for maximum noise/pollution emissions. Couriers are the worst as they have special permission to ride on footpaths, pedestrian areas, one-way streets and may park across office building doors.  

LEARNERS: Avoid using "L" plates - they only identify you as a soft target for "experienced" drivers. 

SUNDAYS: Church goers are given special indulgence which grants them invulnerability, giving a whole new meaning to the old expression: "Praise God and Pass etc.". Careful motoring habits are discarded as they load ten kids into the back of a mini with windows covered in stickers declaring prayer to be what is holding the family together and others calling for the abolition of various practices and devices (which accounts for the ten kids). Their antics are beyond the comprehension of mere mortals. The best course is to stay tucked under the blankets with your hot water bottle until Sunday lunch if at all possible.

YELLOW BOXES: Believed to be some form of pavement art. No known purpose.

STEREOS: The louder, the better - buy in decibels. Greatly assist in blocking out unwanted noise (see "car horns" above).

WOMEN : You will come across a diminishing few who drive slowly but don't be fooled for a moment by this creative feminine ploy; it is a winsome distraction to inveigle the insurance companies into embracing the sexist practise of giving them discount on the grounds of gender. Sometime called the gentler sex, no such attribute applies when they drive; keep your doors locked.
Parking for Coaches

PARKING: Daytime parking is a constant problem with clampers sadistically scouring the city in search of unwitting creditors for the national coffers. The best places are footpaths, entrances, double yellow lines and taxi ranks (see hazard lights section), as clampers busy themselves anbushing those who overstay the meter time by a minute or two.
Judicious use of the space markings in car parks is well worth learning. Park with the space markings under the centre of your car or at an angle, using two spaces. This stops other cars getting too close and scratching the
paintwork of your precious transportation.

PEDESTRIANS: A misnomer for jay-walkers. When approaching one, keep your head down, eyes front, headlights furiously flashing and horn blaring and watch them scatter like the seeds of a dandelion in a gale. Ignore response finger signals, indicating IQ (or sperm count) of sender (1 or 2).

THE SERVICE STATION: Pull into a filling station and the neatly dressed attendant is quickly there enquiring which grade is required and while it is filling, checks the oil, tyres and water and washes the windscreen - cheerfully accepting a small tip for same courtesy...
Then you leave the cinema to drive home, stopping for petrol on the way where you wait for the pump to be turned on, only to discover that you must pay in advance because some jerk once drove off without paying. Then you fill the thing yourself, in the pouring rain (there ia a canopy but it does nothing to shelter you on a windy day) and go to pay, standing in line as people check their week's groceries in front of you.
Oil, water or air are only available at certain times. These times are unknown to the attendant, who "only works here". You have a better chance of finding a litre of oil in a supermarket.

GARDAI (POLICE): One of the unavoidable hazards of modern motoring. Always call them "Sergeant" unless, of course, it is a Sergeant, in which case use "Inspector". Higher ranks don't tend to bother with such mundane matters (except to sort out the unpleasantness for their friends) so you needn't worry about them. If the Guard is a female of the species, do not try some old line about the flawless way she fills the uniform - too blatantly bogus (the prosaic wisdom of this advice will become be self-evident when you've seen the uniform).  Traffic rules do not apply to Gardai, especially if they're rushing for lunch.

AND FINALLY: Of course, all of this is just a minuscule morsel of the encyclopaedic knowledge needed for even moderate proficiency at this most hazardous, but splendidly stimulating of adventure sports. It would take a fair size manuscript to relate all of it.
Best thing is to take your courage (and your steering wheel) in hand and when in doubt, keep the right foot down, eyes front, and horn honking. Sure, its a little precarious, but what's a little daring diversion if it passes away the hours of incomparable tedium in the endless impasse we call traffic which has become an intrinsic part of daily life in our fair city.

© Ronan Quinlan 2006

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