A Classy Commute – the Minister of Transport

21 Nov

Twenty five years ago, after briefly looking out on the Pacific Ocean, Ciarán Cuffe got on his bike, and started to cycle back to the Atlantic Ocean.

Neah Bay

The previous eight months, Ciarán had been working in an architect’s office in mid-town Manhattan . He had experienced the American city life seen on television. Now he was eager to experience American life not portrayed on tv. He had come out to Seattle and then travelled on to Neah Bay; the most north western point of the United States. Barely there, Ciaran turned around and started cycling back to where he had come from. Crossing the continent – over the Rockies and through the prairies – he heard the American life stories not told on television, and was inspired to get into politics.

Today, the Minister of State still cycles, but not from coast to coast. He now travels along the coast, from Dun Laoghaire to his office in the City Centre. His trip starts in Dun Laoghaire’s Patrick Street; passing multi coloured shop fronts of butchers, bakeries, barbers. Soon, cycling downhill to Monkstown, Dublin Bay comes into view. Ciarán has a picture of the Bay hanging over his desk. On it, you are out at sea, looking back at Dun Laoghaire. A swelling wave obscures the city. Two church towers are the only thing rising above the wave’s crescent, like sails on a ship, turned blue by dark clouds above.

Minister Ciaran Cuffe in reflection of the picture over his desk

photo of Dun Laoghaire, Ciaran Cuffe in reflection

From Monkstown, Ciarán cycles along the coastline until – just before Blackrock – he comes to a one-way street. It can be a nuisance on the return journey, which is why Ciaránis pushing for a contra-flow cycle lane in that spot. If it goes through, the lane will help create an uninterrupted cycle route all the way from Sutton to Sandycove.

Ciaran Cuffe

Ciaran Cuffe

Past the one-way street, Ciarán is in the heart of Blackrock, and soon in Blackrock Park, where swans and green fields are the last quiet interlude in his journey. For as soon as Ciarán leaves the park, he is on Merrion Road; the main road into the city centre. Its cycle lanes appear and disappear like fata morgana’s. There is work for cyclists to be done here too, once the contra flow cycle lane comes through.

Ciarán continues straight on, and as the coast recedes, the scenery becomes more city like. His trip leads to Lower Mount Street, past Merrion Square, and finally onto Clare Street. There, to obey the law, Ciarán gets off his bike, and walks the last meters before turning left on Kildare Street.

the old 'no bikes sign' - now an office trophy

At the Department of Transport, beside a spot where a sign ‘no bicycles allowed’ used to hang (Ciarán removed the sign on one of his first days of office), he locks his bike to one of six new bike stands. Then he rushes inside. All the impressions of his cycling trip have made him eager to get to work.

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5 Responses to “A Classy Commute – the Minister of Transport”

  1. Catherine November 21, 2010 at 7:44 pm #

    Love this series so far! It’d be good to see a “distance and time” bit at the end too – just to show people how handy cycling in Dublin is.

    • dublindutch November 21, 2010 at 8:05 pm #

      Many thanks Catherine — glad you reading our stories. I’ve just taken a look at your blog, and it looks georgeous. Is that blue bike yours?
      We will try to give more feeling on the actual distance and time of the commutes as well (thanks for thinking with us). Until now, most people we’ve spoken to indicate their commute is between 10 – 25 minutes. All very suitable distances for a relaxed ride to work, really.

      • Catherine November 21, 2010 at 9:41 pm #

        Oh, I wish! I have a battered black Raleigh Elegance which I love dearly. I used to live in the Netherlands, so I christened it Hendrik. :)

        My bike commute from Stoneybatter to Ranelagh is 4km and takes me 20 minutes at an easy enough pace. Most people I speak to can’t believe that I’d cycle “so far” every day, but it’s no distance at all really!

  2. John November 21, 2010 at 8:15 pm #

    A lot needs to be done to make the City and County Ultra Friendly to Bicycle users,like Dedicated Cycleways and Contra Flows to suit Cyclists, The Shortest distance between two points is a Straight line. The Greatest Enemy to Cycling is the Pro Motorist Dublin City Council who tries to Vote down any Infrastructure that is suggested.

    Years ago in 1965 when I had my Raleigh Three Speed Triumph Cycle I used to go up that One way Street when it was a two way past Blackrock Carnegie Library on Newtown Avenue on the way to Dunlaoghaire,it would be very handy not having to turn off and go up Temple Hill.

    Various Areas of Dublin could benefit Cyclists by having a Contraflow including that Hundred Metres or so between Clare Street and Kildare Street, Grafton Street to Suffolk Street, Upper Camden Street at the Bleeding Horse to Richmond Street, Parnell Street at the Kingfisher Restaurant along the front of the Rotunda Hospital to the Parnell Monument,and many other Areas.

    We could also benefit by being able to turn left at Red Lights on most Streets. Also we could do with Traffic Lights that stays on for Bicycles at a constant speed of 20KM just like some European Countries like Denmark. It is those little things that mean a lot to Cyclists,making it a little bit more Safer and enjoyable.

  3. Marco November 26, 2010 at 10:46 am #

    Hi Philip,

    love your website as well and put it in my blogroll. I would be happy if you return the favour. This is the way blogs survive!

    If you want to do more in terms of comparative posts or whatever I am more than happy to do some more exchange!,

    Best to you

    Marco

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