Tag Archives: Cycling in Dublin

Wild, rugged, outdoor cycling – Movember Cycle in Dublin

28 Nov

Like I wrote in my last blog post, the Ollie and Lisa from GreenAer hosted a very special cycling tour through Dublin, this weekend.

I’m showing the pictures, just to show you I wasn’t exaggerating. 

Well – what do you think? Something we should do more often?

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A Classy Commute – the Architect

23 Aug

In 1996, Seán Harrington quit his job as architect in London for a job as architect in Dublin. In London he had always cycled to work, and he decided to keep that habit in Dublin.

On the first day in his new office, Seán locked his bike to the railing in front of the office. By noon, three colleagues had suggested he move his bike to the back. A bike in the front could give the wrong impression – clients might think this office business was in financial distress.

Seán did not quite follow.

Being attached to cycling, he didn’t understand his Dublin colleagues’ frowns. Seán had moved to Germany at an early age; and growing up in continental Europe made him fall in love with cycling. He loved cycling for the same reason he loved skiing; his other continental pastime. He saw cycling as the summer version of skiing — both require plotting a curve, looking ahead, swerving and following through, and both give the same joy children have on a merry go round. Who could not like that?

Also, Seán didn’t understand his Dublin colleagues from a professional perspective. As an architect, Seán had always aimed for simplicity, trying reorganise cluttered compounds and swanky structures into spaces that make sense like a mathematical equation – to the point where he chose Dublin over London because there was more to reorganise. His affection for simplicity and sustainability is also the reason he likes bicycles; nothing beats the straightforward functional style of a black retro bicycle, and getting around in the city is free and fast. Why didn’t his colleagues feel the same?

So two years after arriving in Dublin, Seán resigned and set up his own architectural practice. He started off by giving his employees expenses for every mile they cycled to meetings (at the same rate as cars). Then, he started using cycling as a marketing tool.

As a result, Seán’s practice has by now worked on a series of prestigious projects: the Tallaght cycle way (winner of the Best Public Space award), the Sutton to Sandycove cycle way (Europe’s longest cycle way, with a boardwalk that doubles as a flood defense mechanism), and the New Liffey Bridge (with dedicated cycleway) for the LUAS connector line.

In the end, Seán’s cycle has come full circle.

 

Cycling in Fashion with Petria Lenehan

15 Aug

Note: we wrote a guest blog for the American Bike League — in an effort to show how great cycling in Dublin is (becoming). We’re republishing that same blog here. Feel free to let us know if you think we gave the right impression. Photo’s by Rich Gilligan.

 

Petria Lenehan is a Dublin fashion designer schooled in New York, Florence and London. She owns Dublin fashion boutique Dolls.

Dolls is a Disneyland for fashion lovers. Every item contributes to making it a magic kingdom for grownups: Panama hats, brown leather camera cases, and copper pharmacist scales line the walls. At the entrance stands a matte green Dutch bicycle.

Petria primarily has that bike because it brings structure to her days. With a dual role as fashion designer and boutique owner, Petria’s life is hectic. Five years after opening Dolls, she still finds herself sketching dresses in business hours – meaning she will have to do bookkeeping later that night. But now, with help of her bike, a change has come about.

Petria recently rented a studio, forcing herself to be business woman in her boutique and fashion designer in her studio. It does require Petria to frequently travel between studio and shop, though. For that, she heavily relies on her bike, which has become the beacon of structure in her working life. Every day at her boutique, she loads shirts and skirts in her bicycle basket and cycles to her new studio.

But Petria also has the bike for its style. When the Irish Times recently wrote an article about Dolls, it said ‘you don’t have to arrive (…) by Dutch bike, but if you do you will be among your tribe. This is Dublin 8, darling.

And so Petria decided to display a bike alongside dresses, hats, scarves, frocks, jumpers, socks and clogs. She also decided to get a Dutch bicycle herself. As with her fashion designers – such as Peter Jensen, Cahterine André, and Renate Henschke – Petria personally knows the owner of the Dutch bike company, Joni Uhlenbeck.

Next to Dolls, in the same building, is a café called Bibi’s. It is run by Petria’s sister: Maisha. The food at Bibi’s has won more awards than the King’s Speech won Academy Awards , and Dublin 8’s Dutch bicycle tribe now has an extra reason to go shopping at Dolls – many customers walk into Dolls with peanut butter brownie crumbs still on their lips.

Petria – knowing the amount of calories going into her sister’s brownies – is happy her clientele comes by bike. Seeing her customers cycle away assures Petria they had a guilt free shopping experience. And that they won’t come back to change clothes that all of a sudden no longer fit them.

 

 


A Classy Commute – Illustrator Chris Judge

20 Jul

Chris is an illustrator. He cycles a 1980s racer bike and he cycles it fast.

On his way to work, he swooshes past Drumcondra’s high trees, slaloms downhill through Dorset Street’s traffic, leaps over the Liffey, and finally keeps to the Quays until he arrives at his studio, on the top floor of a Dame Street building.

There, with high windows that overlook City Hall, Chris closes his eyes and replays his cycling trip as if he was reading a comic book. When he opens them, he goes to work and characters take shape faster than his hand and pen can keep up.

Chris’ characters will vary; depending on the weather, the traffic, and Chris’ mood. But always, they will want to explore and venture into the unknown.

In Chris’ first book (‘The Lonely Beast’), a monster that looks like a huggable black Christmas tree arrives on earth and – even though the humans are kind to him, feed him donuts, and invite him on talk shows – sets out to explore the world, hoping to find a friend that looks like him. Chris’ second book (‘the Great Explorer’ – to be published next February) has a similar theme: a young kid sets out on a mission to save his Dad who got stuck on the North Pole. Even in his near-scientific work for the Science Gallery in Trinity, where artists have created illustrations for each element in the periodic table, Chris has created adventurous purple characters that represent the element Xenon.

Chris’ latest work is a co-production with his girlfriend Cliona (whom we interviewed two weeks ago and who told us she gets more inspiration from cycling than Van Gogh got from sunflowers). Together, they filmed the music video for Lisa Hannigan’s new song ‘Safe Travels’. Chris and Cliona have created a video in a 1950s Irish setting, in which a person uses all modes of transport to get from East to West.

Cliona and Chris quickly agreed there should be a bike in that music video as well.

Now if only they could agree whether it should be a ladies bike, or a 1980s racer.

A Classy Commute –with Photographer Cliona O’Flaherty

9 Jul

South Studio Dublin, situated on 27/28 New Row South, is a hub for bicycle aficionado’s. In a previous blog item, we interviewed Aisling Farinella – a fashion stylist who works in that Studio. It turns out Aisling shares her office with Cliona O’Flaherty – a talented photographer who can recall every bicycle she ever rode.

Cliona’s first bike was a chrome BMX. Cliona got it for her 8th birthday from her mother, who had bought it off Cliona’s older brother for 40 pounds. Cliona and her BMX were like an American outlaw and his horse. Cliona has been that close with each one of her bikes since; the purple mountain bike she bought with hard earned cash, or the vintage bronze Hercules bike her Dad bought for her at Cash Converters when that purple mountain bike was stolen.

Bikes and trees - photo by Cliona

Today, Cliona cycles a traditional black Falcon Westminster bike. In the weekdays, she uses it to get from her house in Drumcondra to South Studios. The trip gives her inspiration for work; on a bike, she can see people up close and that gives her ideas for portraits. Cliona also does a lot of food photography, but she can’t say whether she is inspired by the hamburger modeled bell on her steering wheel, or by the Otto Lenghi dishes she is so fond of. Her fondness of bikes has – in itself – also helped for some photo shoots with bikes in it.

In this shot: Cliona's own Falcon Westminster. With a wicker basket.

In the weekends, Cliona and her boyfriend Chris Judge (an illustrator who’s also into cycling) cycle down Drumcondra’s tree lined Griffith Avenue to the coast line. At the Bull Wall they park their bikes, go for a short swim, after which they lie flat on one of the large sun warmed stones that protect Dublin from the incoming waves. Sometimes, they continue their cycle to Sutton, or even Howth. It is the best way to escape from work.

Or actually; it was the best way to escape from work. Because on a recent cycle trip, Cliona and Chris came up with their first creative co-production. As a result, Cliona and Chis produced a short film called the ‘Lonely Beast’ (on show in the IFI on July 17th). Now, the couple is already working on their second co-production: Lisa Hannigan’s new music video.

Sometimes work is just too good to escape.

inspired by cycling - Cliona's work on rocks along Dublin's coast

Portrait by Cliona: inspired by cycling

Inspired by cycling: photo by Cliona.

Dutch Cycling Lessons in Dublin

29 Apr

Don’t be too proud to take lessons. I’m not.Jack Nicklaus

Dutch often serve as a role model for cycling. Urban planners study Dutch towns for their ‘cycling infrastructure’. Designers call out Dutch bicycles for their sleek and simple style. Policy makers ascribe the Dutch cycling success to its nation of ‘natural cyclists’. In short: the Netherlands is a place where cycling has always been part of the country’s fabric.

The truth, of course, is different.

The Netherlands has not always had a ‘cycling infrastructure’. Today, 40% of Amsterdam traffic may take place by bike, but in the 1960s, Amsterdam was dominated by cars. The economic prosperity after World War II led people to flaunt their wealth by buying a car – thus leaving the bike behind. Urban planners followed the trend, and set up broad roads through ancient city centres — until cyclists made up only 10% of city traffic. Only later did Dutch policy makers realise this made cities overcrowded and less liveable. It has taken several decades to reverse the trend.

Cars on the Canals

Designers point out the stylishness in Dutch cycling. Matte blue men’s bikes serve as props in shop windows, accentuating pinstripe patterns of bespoke suits on display. Billboards feature female models – with auburn hair, tight hazelnut trousers and tweed jackets – leaning into racing green bikes with brown leather saddles. Street Style Magazines showcase modern versions of the traditional Dutch bike, and trendwatchers call out those bikes for their ‘urban credibility’, ‘new roughness’, or ‘artificial realism’.  It’s all a recent trend though; primarily, the Dutch have always seen cycling as something purely functional.

VAN MOOF - a 'new style Dutch bike' - wins Eurobike Award 2009

Finally: there is no such thing as a ‘natural cyclist’. The Dutch are not born with an innate ability to cycle. Cycling is something people learn by doing; even in the Netherlands. It does help that cycling lessons have been a regular item in Dutch elementary schools.

Picture from a Dutch magazine, showing how bike lessons went 'back then' ('vroeger'), in 1964.

The main lesson here: Dublin is more similar to Amsterdam than most think. Dublin has a history of cycling, just like Amsterdam. Similar to the Dutch, the Irish only started replacing bikes with cars when economic prosperity increased during the Celtic Tiger. While this has initially decreased cycling, cycling numbers have recently increased again. Dublin may yet make the same rebound as Amsterdam did after its 1960s low point.

Furthermore, Dublin also has a keen eye for cycling style; like last year’s Dublin Cycle Chic fashion show and the city’s new Dutch bicycle and fixed gear shops demonstrate.

Finally, Dubliners are as natural on their bikes as the Dutch are – in part thanks to the Green Schools, who organize bike lessons for kids, distribute bike helmets, and set up bicycle powered smoothie makers.

The Irish may yet give the Dutch a run (or a cycle) for their money.

1961: Cyclists on Dublin's Dame Street and South Great Georges Street (photo by Charles W Cushman).

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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