Dublin's Schemin' Wheels

14/09/2009 15:26 by Amsterdamize

Not too long ago I had the pleasure of hosting some good people from abroad. This happens quite often, something I really enjoy. I mean, what’s not to like about showing people around in your home town and having even the smallest impact on how they experience cycling in the Netherlands. Well, in this case ‘hosting’ is a big word, as I was asked to participate in a cycling documentary for Dublin Community TV.

Producer Rob Carr explained it all in his request:

The TV Series is 3 part documentary on cycling in Dublin. The main premise of the series will be to look at how a cycling culture can be developed in Dublin and what that might look like. To that end, one programme will be a kind of travelogue where we go on a journey from Dublin to Amsterdam via London by bike, ferry and train. We will follow Ciaran Fallon (the new Cycling Officer at Dublin City Council) on his journey as he meets various people involved in the cycling cultures of London and Amsterdam to see what is happening from a cycling perspective in those cities and what Dublin can learn from them. We are of course hoping you will be one of these people…

Others we are hoping top interview are Ria Hilhorst, Directorate of Infrastructure at City of Amsterdam and Theo Zeegers from Fietersbond.

In Amsterdam we will look at the infrastructure – the bike lanes and the integration with public transport. We also hope to highlight the notion of the bike as a normal, easy, fashionable (of course), everyday means of transport (the idea that one just cycles in their everyday clothes is still a hard thing to get across to people in Ireland). The majority in Dublin do not yet view cycling in this way although there is a hint that things are starting to change (Ciaran Fallon, the Dublin city Cycling officer, is a very progressive guy who sees an Amsterdam type cycling culture as the way to go for Dublin). We also want to examine the issue from a cultural aspect. We in Ireland seem to have a very American attitude towards cars – hence making our cities very car dependent while in Amsterdam it seems to me that the culture has a better understanding of shared space for pedestrians, cars and bikes and that has lead to a more liveable city – something very positive to highlight in our documentary.

As a long time follower of your blog it would be great if we could interview you for the documentary.

Irish TV Goes Dutch

Hurrying back to continue inside..

Hurrying back to continue inside..

After work I hurried (I think I’ve never cycled this fast before, I actually sweated…) to our rendez-vous on Nieuwmarket, shook hands and the TV crew, Ciaran Fallon and I went on our way. In part it was to be an interview on wheels. The cameraman positioned in a rental bakfiets, the audio technician steering it and Ciaran had me chat up a storm (quite literally, as very dark clouds moved in and blanketed the city).

Almost naturally our conversation went from the obvious to the more intrinsic/historical aspects of Dutch bicycle ‘culture’, leading to some important myth busting (not towards Ciaran, but the general perception abroad):

1970's Amsterdam Cycle Jive

Just as we arrived at one of Amsterdam’s pivotal ‘infra grids’, the rain forced us inside for the second leg of the interview, which was equally fun and interesting. We wrapped it all up with a few lagers (the Irish and Dutch also have so much in common) and an invite to Dublin was born.

Typically enough, this morning a friend of mine from Dublin sent me this news article, ‘Wheels start turning as city gets saddled up’, covering the launch of the Dublinbikes bike sharing program.


Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

‘Ugh’ was my first response to the article’s first paragraph’s and main focus on the absence of helmets, a smile came next. Somebody enlightened at Dublin City Hall has clearly injected some sanity into the decision making process…I think it’s someone I recently met. :)

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to unlock Mr Freight as I’m meeting up again with cycle trotter Anthony from Memphis, Tennessee.

Anthony Siracusa from Memphis





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