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Keep the Cycling Officer!

20 Dec

Dublin is heading for a fall:

Dublin City Council is axing the Cycling Officer (read our interview wit Ciaran Fallon, written more than a year ago – in happier times).

This is a call to action.

Please join the Dublin Cycling Campaign, and help us keep our cycling officer.

Dublin needs your help. Now.

Join the protest,

sign the petition,

and write to your local Councillors (instructions follow…).




Dear TD/Councillor,

We abhor the failure of Dublin City Council (DCC) to find funding to continue the contract of the Cycling Officer.  We understand that the Cycling Officer’s position has been funded up to now by the Department of the Environment, Communications and Local Government, but this contract ceases on January 5th.

A Cycling Officer is needed not only to represent the interests of the increasing number of Dubliners who already cycle, but to rapidly increase modal share, by-

  • Co-ordinating & guiding DCC policy towards increasing cycling, e.g. by reviewing draft policy documents like the Development Plan and contributing to the Transport Strategic Policy Committee, etc.;
  • As an engineer, counteracting the mindset of roads engineers who have been trained in outmoded, car-based transport principles;
  • Publicly promoting cycling, as done very successfully with the recent family-oriented Sky Ride, when 10,000 Dubliners took to their bikes in the city and gave an enthusiastic response.

We in the Campaign have developed an excellent working relationship with the current Officer, but all citizens can see the tangible results.  Due to bigger cycling numbers, Dublin’s streets are now quieter, less congested and, most importantly, safer for ALL road users.

The background to this issue is the mystifying way transport has developed in Ireland:

  • How is it that our roads have been made unsafe for kids to cycle to school, when over 300,000 of our children are overweight or obese?
  • How is it that, with car ownership now costing over €10,000 per year, and a crazy 40% of short trips being made by car, we’re not energetically pushing this low-cost transport mode?
  • Why is our Department of the Environment apparently reducing funding, when research published last week showed that high cycling numbers could make a huge dent in Europe’s greenhouse gas emissions?
  • Are we really content to simply continue to sit in traffic jams?  A Dublin Underground is not going to materialise any time soon.  Cycling is a quick, easy, very cheap answer to congestion.

It’s clear (and it’s in the Government’s own Cycle Policy Framework) that there should be not only a Dublin Cycling Officer, but a Cycling Tsar or team at Government level, and one in every Local Authority in the State.  Departments of Health and Children, Transport, Tourism and Sport, and Environment all bear responsibility here.  Yes, budgets are tight, but with a 20 to 1 return on investment in cycling (the huge health benefits to the population allow immense savings), it’s crazy to penny-pinch one key professional’s salary.

Indeed, we would be very interested to see DCC’s cost/benefit analysis of the decision to end this contract, given that its Transportation division expenditure was €73 million for 2010, and the Dublin Bikes scheme alone brings in €400,000.  Funding is not the problem here, it’s ill-informed and regressive thinking.


Yours sincerely,








Dublin City Councillors are listed here-…

Maria Parodi
Pat McCartan
Dermot Lacey;
Mary Freehill
Mannix Flynn
Kieran Binchy
Gerry Ashe
Edie Wynne
Oisin Quinn

Dublin TDs listed below.  Often a TD’s e-mail address is like-

Dublin Central (4)

Pascal Donohoe (FG)
Joe Costello (Labour)
Mary Lou McDonald (SF)
Maureen O’Sullivan (Ind)


Dublin West (4)

Joan Burton (Labour)
Leo Varadkar (FG)
Joe Higgins (Socialist/ULA)
Patrick Nulty (Labour/Ind)


Dublin North (4)

James Reilly (FG)
Brendan Ryan (Labour)
Clare Daly (Socialist/ULA)
Alan Farrell (FG)


Dublin North Central (3)

Richard Bruton (FG)
Aodhán Ó Ríordáin (Labour)
Finian McGrath (Ind)


Dublin North East (3)

Terence Flanagan (FG)
Tommy Broughan (Labour)
Sean Kenny (Labour)


Dublin North West (3)

Roisin Shortall (Labour)
John Lyons (Labour)
Dessie Ellis (SF)


Dublin Mid-West (4)
Joanna Tuffy (Labour)
Frances Fitzgerald (FG)
Robert Dowds (Labour)
Derek Keating (FG)


Dublin South (5)

Shane Ross (Ind)
Alex White (Labour)
Peter Matthews (FG)
Alan Shatter (FG)
Olivia Mitchell (FG)


Dublin South Central (5)

Eric Byrne (Labour)
Aengus O Snodaigh (SF)
Catherine Byrne (FG)
Joan Collins (PBP/ULA)
Michael Conaghan (Labour)


Dublin South East (4)

Ruari Quinn (Labour)
Lucinda Creighton (FG)
Eoghan Murphy (FG)
Kevin Humphreys (Labour)


Dublin South West (4)

Pat Rabbitte (Labour)
Brian Hayes (FG)
Sean Crowe (SF)
Eamonn Maloney (Labour)


Dun Laoghaire (4)

Eamon Gilmore (Labour)
Seán Barrett (FG)
Mary Mitchell O’Connor (FG)
Richard Boyd Barrett (PBP/ULA)

Naked Cycling Club in Dublin?

26 Sep

Picture from the Bare Cycling Club Website

Scanning the web today, we came across an interesting Press Release from a bicycle shop here in Dublin: GreenAer.

GreenAer, set up by a Belgian / Irish couple, has conducted research on the cycling preferences of Dubliners. As some of our readers may know, this particular topic has had our interest interest for a long time already. We even wrote a guest blog item on, where we argued how cycling gear is overcomplicating the simplicity of cycling.

It turns out that many Dubliners feel the same. GreenAer’s Press Release says it all:

26 September 2011 – GreenAer, Dublin’s expert in ‘clean transport solutions’ (, has recently conducted research on cycling and clothing. GreenAer interviewed 137 Dubliners, asking (amongst others) what their favourite cycling attire would be if there were no practical, logistical or social barriers.

GreenAer’s research showed 7 out of 10 respondents prefer to cycle with ‘as little clothes as possible’. Research also showed 8 out of 10 Dublin cyclists ‘gear up’ (e.g. sweater, jacket, high visibility vest) for their cycle trips, but would rather not do so due to ‘sweatiness’, ‘bulkiness’ or ‘clothing style’. A minority of respondents (3 out of 10) indicated they would be interested in cycling (partly) naked.

To meet demand from these Dubliners, GreenAer has founded an independent association that encourages cyclists to dress down: ‘The Bare Cycling Club’ ( The association is currently in the process of being formally incorporated, but 15 members have already joined in the ‘pre-signup’. The draft articles of association set out members ‘strive to wear as little as possible, without interfering with public safety or morality’. The association also caters for the needs of the minority preferring to cycle (almost) naked.

The Bare Cycling Club stresses it is not a nudist association and that its activities are within the legal framework. However, the Bare Cycling Club does believe its (minority of) almost naked cycling members can play a strong role in advocating a more pleasant way of cycling (i.e. without the confinements too much cycling gear) for all cyclists. The Bare Cycling Club understands naked cycling may seem radical, so to avoid confrontations it advises its partly naked members to cycle only between 10 pm and 6 am.

Ciaran Fallon, Cycling Officer for Dublin City Council, says: “Cycling is really taking off in Dublin – ever since the Dublin Bike scheme we have seen a huge uptake on various new forms of cycling and bicycles; consider, for example, the fixies and BMXs. We encourage all forms of cycling, as long as it does not breach any regulations and remains within the spirit of good use of roads”.


UBS, Risk and Compliance, Cyclists

23 Sep

If you have read the news, you will not have missed that UBS – a swiss bank – made a trading loss. Here’s a short recap given by the Economist:

THE latest annual report of UBS, Switzerland’s biggest and most error-prone bank, states that “disciplined risk management and control are essential to our success.” That assertion has been proved right in the most embarrassing way, after allegedly unauthorised bets cost the bank a whopping $2.3 billion.

The papers are filled with the bank’s ‘Swiss Miss’, and write how it should not have been possible. Surely, shareholders will hold the bank’s Risk and Compliance Management Team accountable.

What went wrong? Why didn’t the Risk and Compliance Management Team stop the rogue trader?

In an e-mail circulating among bankers, an explanation is suggested. Since today is Friday – a day most people in an office spend circulating e-mails with footage of dancing cats or zoo-keeper bloopers – I am sharing that e-mail with you.

The e-mail’s subject: UBS’ risk managment & compliance team returns to work …
The e-mail’s picture:


Well – they may have done stuff wrong at work; but the UBS Risk and Compliance team has definitely got its cycling style right.

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.



Cycling Art in Summer Bike Competition

28 Jul

Bear bicycles, a company selling Dutch bicycles in Dublin, is organising a competition to win a Summer Bike. Since we sort of know the people at Bear (feel free to investigate the link between this independent cycling advocacy blog and this Dutch bike shop), we are in the unique position to give our readers a preview of some of the applications in that contest so far.

We encourage all our readers to put on their creative caps, and to submit a piece of ‘Cyling Art’ in Bear’s competition —  check out this link and see how you can win a Dutch bicycle for the Summer.


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.

Wooden bicycles by Jan Gunneweg

1 Jul

Jan Gunneweg was 3 years old when he started woodworking. Growing up on a typical Dutch house boat in the north of the Netherlands, Jan joined his father at repairing the boat in the summer. It was his first contact with wood; and it set the course for the rest of his life.

At the age of 10, Jan had built an armada of wooden model boats. Each time Jan finished a new boat, he would hold it up to his mother and say he wanted to go to the Woodwork Academy, to learn how to build a real boats. And indeed, years later, Jan did go to that same academy. But he did not end up building boats; he started building bikes instead.

At the Academy, Jan lost interest in boats. Jan – who had been a semi professional ice skater until an injury forced him to quit – had been gripped by road racing like a boa constrictor grips its victim, and he poured his passion into his profession. For his graduating masterpiece, Jan set out to build a wooden race bike. To demonstrate wood can rival steel and carbon, Jan participated in national races – where he easily kept up with competitors.

His hobby and passion evolved into his business. Jan creates wooden bikes, wooden sunglasses, wooden poker tables. Students work in his workshop, eager to learn from Jan’s mastery of the trade. Jan shows them what to look at: grains in the wood must be straight as an arrow, blurry grains deliver blurry products; cherry wood and walnut are best for stiff, rigid racing bikes; ash is better for flexible road bikes.

Currently, Jan and his team only make bikes to order, and consequently prices start at EUR 6000,–. But they are working on a line of bikes to be produced on a larger scale, and at a lower price. Jan expects those bikes will be a success: the bikes are easy to ship, and easy to assemble – ‘somewhat like IKEA’, says Jan.

Then he smiles, and turns back to his work bench. He brushes away wood shavings, picks up his scraper, and continues smoothing the surface of a cherry wood bike frame.

IKEA is still a long way to go – and we’re glad it is.

The Bicycle Inventor

4 Jun

Bicycle Inventor at Work

Elian Veltman’s inspiration for building bikes came from a car.

While studying car engineering, Elian worked for Donkervoort – a sports car manufacturer in the Netherlands. In Donkervoort’s small, light filled factory in the Dutch polder, Elian noticed how Donkervoort leaves out electronic aids to simplify motoring. No ABS, no ESP, no power steering and no traction control. Instead, Donkervoort focuses on simple and functional elements: an ultra stiff chassis, simple design, low wheel suspension.

bicycle inspiration

Elian was so caught by Donkervoort’s simplicity he decided to abandon his passion for cars for something even simpler: the bike.

Elian left Donkervoort and became a bicycle inventor. Elian had worked in his uncle’s bike repair shop ever since he was a child, and he could build bikes blindfolded. But his lessons at Donkervoort gave him his true epiphany. He set up a small bicycle factory in Culemborg, and filled it with machines he bought off Dutch and Belgian factories that had gone out of business 30 years ago – unable to cope with competition from the Far East. Elian started building bike prototypes devoid of all frills, in a quest to forge a frame as austere as a Calvinistic Protestant church service.

Elian’s first bicycle became a delivery bike, called ’01-cargo’. The delivery bike weighs approximately half of what normal delivery bikes weigh; each unnecessary nut and bolt has been omitted, each excess gram of steel has been shaved off. The 01-cargo’s front load carrier looks like a horizontal hoisting crane, and gives bike an appearance as urban as a derelict Dublin construction site. With his second bicycle, the ’02-commuter’, Elian has built a dressed down version of the traditional diamond shaped bike frame – and in doing so improved the simplicity of a geometrical form that hasn’t changed since Pythagoras.

Elian doesn’t plan to stop at these first two bikes. His girlfriend currently rides an old concorde (a ladies racing bike), and Elian is working hard to get her a new bike – built by him. Soon after that, his 1 year old son will be needing a bike as well.

Asked what he would like to do 20 years from now, Elian says he secretly wants to build a plane.

As if his bikes don’t make you fly already.

Cargo bicycle by Elian Cycles

the 02-commuter

Elian working on the 02-commuter

Delivery bicycles and Little Green Fingers

10 Apr

Children should be playing outside. Research shows it increases their physical and mental health. That’s why Caitriona Walsh set up ‘Little Green Fingers’, Ireland’s first child minding service that does all its activities outdoors – with help of a Dutch delivery bicycle. Yesterday, Little Green Fingers was awarded the Early Childhood Ireland Innovation Award. Caitriona and her children showed up in their delivery bike to receive the Award.

Like normal childcare facilities, Little Green Fingers has literacy and numeracy games, such as number treasure hunts, telling stories, or rhyme exercises. The difference is: Little Green Fingers does it all outside. Caitriona uses a Dutch delivery bicycle to transport the children to the beach, the woods, or to excursions. She and the children spend delivery bicycle trips singing, pointing, and discussing surroundings. Special outdoor waterproof clothing keeps the children comfortable, regardless of the weather, and specially designed cameras allow them to document their outdoor adventures each day.

Caitriona set up Little Green Fingers because she saw a need for alternative child care. Caitriona says “children spend too much time in an artificial world, and not enough time in the real world.” With Little Green Fingers, she aims to teach children about animals, plants and garden work. With the delivery bicycle, Catriona also takes children to the fire station, Newbridge farm or other local attractions, to give them an understanding of their community.

The Malahide community, where Caitriona is currently based, is lucky to have her. Let’s hope the Award paves the way for similar concepts in the Dublin community.

For more information, check the Little Green Fingers website:

Dutch Bicycle Lady in New York City Writes Cycling Book

4 Mar

Dutch lady on bicycle on new york bridge On the inside of the back flap of “Ride With Me, NYC“, there’s an aquarel painting of Manhattan. In it, smiling cyclists and yellow taxi’s ride alongside each other – in equal numbers. In the center of the painting, a tree with a face smiles up at the skyscrapers. To the right, a girl with a pink hat and a take away coffee – her back towards us – overlooks the scene. Above the girl’s head, someone with high school handwriting has written: ‘I am elegant free and a little bit crazy: I am a NYC Bike Princess and I would like to take you on a ride’.

The back flap painting is artwork by Roos Stallinga. Roos is also the author, photographer, illustrator and publisher of Ride With Me NYC; a book with cycling routes, inside stories, and scenic highlights of New York. Roos was initially inspired to write the book by her student days at New York University. In New York, Roos continued her Dutch habit of cycling everywhere. Soon, fellow students would know Roos was close if they spotted her blue Panasonic racing bike locked against Washington Square’s gates. However, the idea to write a book really took hold of Roos after the numerous visits from her Dutch friends. Roos always took those Dutch friends on cycling tours from West Manhattan, through Chelsea, over the Brooklyn Bridge into Brooklyn, and finally back to Manhattan via the Manhattan Bridge. Those trips would last a full day; with frequent stops for coffee, sandwiches and conversations. Roos would time the return trip to Manhattan to coincide with sunset, so that her friends could take pictures of the skyline from the foot of the Manhattan Bridge. While they were taking pictures, food smells would drift up from Chinatown below – promising a deserved dinner after a day of cycling.bicycle collage new york cityRide With Me NYC makes you feel as if you are visiting Roos yourself. It sets out 10 cycling trips that take you through Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens and Coney Island. The routes have been marked with a ball point pen on old-fashioned maps, and Roos gives a personal introduction to each trip. For the trip to Red Hook – for example – she writes: “Biking to Red Hook feels (…) like biking to the end of the world. This section of Brooklyn was once a little Dutch town called Roode Hoek, or Red Corner (…)”. Roos has interviewed locals, and lets them recommend stops on the way. The stops on the DUMBO to Bushwick route, for example, are tips from Molly Surno – a Brooklyn photographer and curator of Cinema Sixteen who appears to know every vintage dealer and weekend market on the east side of the Brooklyn Bridge. If you never intend to actually cycle through New York yourself, this is the closest you will get.Dutch cyclist writes 'ride with me NYC'

Roos is currently working on her next book: a cycling guide for Amsterdam. Having asked her if Amsterdam isn’t a crowded arena for a cycling guide, Roos draws the bigger picture: hers will not be a guide for tourists, nor will it merely be a cycling guide. Like her book on New York, her Amsterdam guide will focus on real Amsterdam life. No routes with Rembrandt or Windmill themes, but routes that touch the whole spectrum of life in Amsterdam: with tips on cheese, herring, and cafe’s for borrels and bitterballen. Furthermore, her art work and stories will make the book worth reading even if you don’t want to cycle. In other words: the Amsterdam guide could just as well sell in New York. After all: didn’t I just buy her New York guide in Amsterdam?

bicycle locked, new york