Eamon Ryan – Ireland’s Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources – has been a cyclist his whole life. Growing up in Dublin South, he cycled to school as a boy. As student in UCD he set up Bellfield Bike Shop and later went on to found the Dublin Cycling Campaign. Today, he cycles as an everyday commuter.
On the first part of the commute, he feels like father duck. He oversees his children as they cycle in a queue in front of him, in the direction of school. Like their dad, the children have been on bikes from a young age. Now that the youngest – daughter Róise – is eight years old, the garage of the Ryan’s Clonskeagh home is filled with memorabilia of the children’s early years; baby seats, sidewheels, and bike trailers, all in disuse. These days, the children ride their own bikes. Arriving at school in a group, Eamon talks with other parents on bikes and waves at his children, as they each head on in their own direction, melting into their crowds of friends.
Then comes the second part of the Minister’s commute, as he heads for the city centre through South Side Dublin and on the uphill slant on Leesson Park. Every day, the Minister will wave to a friend, talk to an old neighbour, or nod to a fellow commuter whom he doesn’t know but who has been riding the same route for years. Then, it’s left on Leesson Street, where traffic gets busy, and on in the direction of the city centre. Coming to the traffic lights at Leesson Bridge, he is pleased to see the amount of cyclists waiting outnumber the amount of car drivers.
Crossing the bridge, Eamon either takes a left on Adelaide Road to get to his Department’s Office, or a right on Fitzwilliam Street to get to the Dáil. Today, he has a morning meeting in the Dáil and so he takes a right. As he comes up to Leinster House, he bumps his bike up the sidewalk and walks through its gates, bike in hand. He parks his bike without locking it and greets the guards as he walks inside. One of the advantages of working in the Dáil, Eamon says, is that your bike does not get nicked.