September 12, 2009

Irish Times report

This is straight out of my thesis report..I'm sure!
HG WELLS would have approved. “Cycle tracks will abound in Utopia,” he wrote. “When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race.” The launch this weekend of Dublin’s bicycle hire scheme and the announcement of the plan to spend €10 million on a new cycle route linking Rathmines to Fairview Park are causes for celebration, indeed, genuine marks of civilisation.
“Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of a bike ride,” John F Kennedy claimed. And, in truth, the joys of gently freewheeling along the bank of the Grand Canal on an Indian summer’s evening, or of leaning into the pedals and the breeze as one crests a Wicklow hill, are hard to beat. There is no better way to get to know the contours of a place, nor greener, healthier mode of transport, than the descendant of German civil servant Baron Karl von Drais’s 1817 invention, the Laufmaschine also known as the “draisine” (largely unchanged with the exception of pedals, added first in 1863).
Sceptics – pedestrian pedants and pot-half-empty merchants all – warn of technical problems with the hire system, of maintenance challenges, of likely theft and vandalism, and moan about the dangers of cycling on Dublin’s streets and the bullying road hogs in SUVs and buses, the pollution . . . It is ever so with visionary advance. Yes, the Paris velib system has had problems, but 42 million rides have been enjoyed and the city has taken them to its heart. Dublin will too.
In Flann O’Brien’s The Third Policeman , the philosopher de Selby introduced us to “Atomic Theory” – the study of the exchange of atoms between bodies that are in close contact – and his particular views on men and their bicycles. As Sgt Pluck recorded: “The gross and net result of it is that people who spent most of their natural lives riding iron bicycles over the rocky roadsteads get their personalities mixed up with the personalities of their bicycle as a result of the interchanging of the atoms of each of them, and you would be surprised at the number of people in these parts who nearly are half people and half bicycles”. Due to the nature of his job the local postman, he reported, was 71 per cent bicycle. This also meant that his bicycle was 71 per cent human.
Hopefully, many Dubliners will also become more like their bikes, finding a new, calmer balance in their lives and personalities. There is, unlike a car, nothing aggressive about a bicycle – on the contrary, its very spirit or essence is the antithesis of road rage. Roll on Dublin.
Via Irish Times
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