Tuesday, September 15, 2009


From yesterday's Evening Herald


On your bikes lads, if you think you're man enough

By Susan Daly

Monday September 14 2009

How cute are the new rental bikes -- and how cute do the menfolk of Dublin look riding on them?

Sunday in the city always has a touch of olde-worlde charm about it, what with the reduced traffic and pedestrians ambling along the pavements looking for a spot of leisurely brunch.

And now we have men on bikes with baskets. Senator David Norris must have thought he had died and gone to Joycean heaven when he woke up yesterday morning.

The whole city -- okay, 1,000 of you -- tried out the new Dublin bike scheme on the sunny day that it was.

I felt a little jealous pumping my way up the quays on my old bone-shaker as a coterie of the new, shiny, silver bicycles sailed past me in the bus lane.

It was like being overtaken by a Fred Astaire musical number.

The sturdy shopping baskets attached to the front of each add to the touch of retro. As the bikes are unisex, this meant that there were a lot of men pedalling around yesterday looking very Pollyannish. Polly-mannish, if you will.

I'm not surprised they already have the bikes in Paris. They are just the thing for cruising along the banks of the Seine; baguette and smelly cheese in basket ready for an impromptu picnic with a comely mademoiselle.

Men's bikes in Dublin up to this point have not been traditionally adorned with baskets. They tend to fall into two categories: the anorexic racers of the sinewy courier, and the tough mountain bikes that the rest of the male population seem to favour.

There seems to be the implication that, hey, I could take this baby off-road for a spin any time it took my fancy. Except I'm cycling in a suit. To my accountancy job in the IFSC.

In that respect, the new bikes must appeal to the tough guys: they look pretty sturdy.

This is useful when you're riding the dirt tracks that constitute Dublin's cycle lanes. They also make a decent stab at being vandal-proof.

It was noticeable that the council didn't put the new bikes out until Sunday morning -- having them appear for the first time on a Saturday night would have been asking for trouble.

But there's no getting away from it -- the bike scheme appears to be forcing cuteness on its male users.

I say go with it, lads. If you can ride one without looking sheepish, it means you are secure in your own masculinity.

Show off your finely turned ankles with a rakish air. Don a bowler hat. Tip it to the ladies as you pass by. (Alternatively, stick on a safety helmet, pedal furiously and hope no one sees you until you can dock the shagging thing at the next station).

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