September 6, 2009
As Dublin takes to the wheels, with 450 bikes available on the streets from the middle of this month – from 40 rental locations around the city – we spoke to some hardcore cyclists, including cool cats for whom high heels and two wheels are perfect partners . . .
“This is a US-style beach cruiser with wide handlebars. It’s very comfortable and it’s about the 20th or 30th bike I’ve had. After I left college everybody seemed to be starting to cycle, and I much prefer it for getting around. It’s greener as well and far better than sitting in a bus all morning. You can manage your own time much better, too. I wear a backpack or shoulderbag, but not a basket. I wear the clothes I normally wear. It’s not an athletic bike, and although it’s quite a journey to work every day, I don’t race. I think the new scheme is brilliant and I hope it will work. Dublin has a reputation for bikes being stolen and vandalised, and hopefully the bikes won’t be ravaged. It will be great to see more cycle lanes.”
Tips: Wear a helmet. Comfort is very important. I have a memory foam saddle, which is very comfortable.”
David Wall / Graphic designer
“My bike is basically a black hybrid, like a racer but with straight bars, which I got a few years ago. I wanted a fast bike. It was originally bright pink, but it’s now completely resprayed and renamed Stealth. I got it in Rathmines, from Commuting Solutions. I live in The Tenters and work in Dame Street and cycle in every day. I’ve been using bikes since I was 12. I wear what I would normally wear and tuck my trousers into my socks. Recently, I’ve starteear raingear. The new Dublin bike scheme will mean more people cycling – it’s a superior way to get around town.”
Tips: “Avoid pedestrians, and keep your eyes peeled.”
CHRIS GRIEVE / Cycle courier with Velocity
“This is a cargo bike or long john called the Bullitt from Copenhagen and it’s one of only two in Ireland. We use it for a courier service around the city, and in Copenhagen people use them instead of a car. You can take a few kids in them, or dogs, or shopping, or whatever. We are faster than anything on four wheels, and totally green. I’ve always cycled and have been a courier for 12 years. I’m from Edinburgh and moved here with my wife four years ago. I wear functional cycling gear, and I think the new scheme is brilliant and hopefully will get more people on bikes and raise awareness of the benefits of cycling in the city.”
ENDA LOUGHMAN AND MIKE AHERN / Directors of Daddy (TV commercials and music videos )
Enda: “Mine is a German Opa bike which I bought about a year and a half ago from eBay. I wanted an old man’s bike because they are a regular town bike. It cost €270 and €30 to ship, and I paid to have it assembled here in Dublin. I live in Windy Arbour and work in Pleasants Street, and cycle in every day. I wear what I normally wear and try to dodge the rain. I think the new cycle scheme is brilliant, and I have already signed up for it because I am going to be moving house and one of the stations is right beside me. We cycle to meetings all over Dublin – it’s quicker than walking or driving.”
Tips: “Look out for drivers turning left because they don’t look out for you.”
Mike: “This Chinese bike is called the Flying Pigeon. It got rusty very quickly and looks very old already. My last one was stolen. I got this from eBay in the UK for £50 and it cost €80 to ship it here nine months ago. I wanted something not too complicated, and a sturdy town bike. Between the 1940s and the 1960s, there were 85 million bikes on the road in China, the biggest form of transport in the world – they were making 15,000 a day during the height of it. Now there are fewer. I am conscious of colour – it’s what I do for a living, and bright colour makes me happier, especially when it is pouring rain.”
Tips: “Don’t invest in a flashy bike in Dublin – get something simple which is less of a target to be stolen.”
LYNN HUNTER, / Hunter PR
“This old second-hand school bike was given to me by my sister when she went away, and it gets me from A to B. I live in Baldoyle and cycle into Fairview to the gym and to the shops around Sutton and Howth. We have the most amazing bicycle lanes, which I’ve been using all summer. I cycled for years, but in the past six months I have set up my own company, and my outlook on life has changed. The bike is part of the new Lynn, and part of my lifestyle. I got Charlie, a Shitzu, from a dog pound eight months ago; he’s eight and has even checked into the Ritz hotel. My parents look after him during the day, and he is spoilt rotten. He’s lazy and loves shopping in the bike and being pushed around. I usually wear jeans and dresses, and you know what, stilettos! I also wear riding boots by A P Vandevorst from Smock, and jeans from Costume.”
“My parents picked up this bike for me in the US after I had an accident with the last one, Betsey Number One. So Betsey Number Two is a red and black cruiser with a burger-shaped bell. I have two helmets, and though I always wear one in winter, I find wearing one in summer a bit hot. I cycle from Santry into Dublin 8 every day, and it takes me about 25 minutes. Uphill going home takes about 35. I cycle in my stilettos – it’s easier to cycle than to walk in them! I find wedges a bit high because your legs become longer and the pedals shorter. I don’t think the new bicycle scheme in Dublin has been publicised enough, and I think 30 minutes’ free cycling is too short a time, but it’ll be good for more people to be on bikes in the city.”
Petria Lenehan / Boutique owner/designer
“My bike is an old maroon racer I got from Richard. I’ve been cycling around town for about two years. I don’t wear anything different on my bike, though I have to tie my skirt up sometimes, and I keep a little raincoat in my backpack. I love cycling because it’s free, healthy and it’s lovely to be out and about and gives you a lot of freedom.”
Tips: “Be careful with baskets, they can flip over and unbalance you.
Natalie Keville / Designer for Exhibit Design Group
“I built this myself last year – it took me six months and I got most of the parts from the US, in places such as Ben Cycles in Milwaukee. I love fixies (as these fixed-gear bikes are called) because they are really suitable for city cycling. You gain greater efficiency and power because there is no coasting, which is great for keeping control in heavy traffic. I love the light weight, simplicity and low maintenance, but the best part is the sense of fun and achievement of the actual build. It all started just after I left college, when I had a bit of money. Mine cost €1,400 and it’s a black Pake Track frame, with Nitto Jaguar stem, straight chrome Conago forks, deep Vs, Sugino messenger cranks, a Brooks team pro saddle and custom-made wooden handlebars (wild cherry strips laminated to a five degree curve). The only downside is the frequent near death experiences. I have been hit by two taxis this year. I usually wear something casual and funky. And God, no, I never wear cycling gear.”
Tips: Cars need to be more aware of cyclists.
Richard Gilligan / Photographer
“This bike is an early 1980s Raleigh Racer called the Raleigh Pursuit and I bought it off an old man in Stoneybatter who sells junk out of his garage once a month. I was looking for old cameras, but then I saw it and I bought it for €40 – that was about 2½ years ago. It got nicked, but I saw the guy on my bike, grabbed him and gave him a tenner for a taxi and got it back. I love it, and the only way to get around Dublin is on a bike or a skateboard. I don’t wear sports gear or cycling shorts, just jeans and a T-shirt. I think the new scheme is brilliant. I hope it works here the way it does in other European cities.”
Tips: Be very aware, wear bright colours and make sure you have lights at night. Always expect the unexpected.
STYLIST: Aisling Farinella
HAIR: Katherine Sweeney for Toni Guy
MAKE-UP: Eimear for Chanel
Thanks to the Powerscourt Townhouse Centre and Pygmalion Bar
PHOTOGRAPHY ALAN BETSON
This article appears in the print edition of the Irish Times