I’m the Walking and Cycling Promotion Officer for Dublin City Council – my role is to communicate, advocate for and promote all the things cycling and walking in the city, to bring it to the forefront of life in Dublin, and make it better for the people who live here.
Dublin is a great city to walk and cycle in, geographically we’re quite flat, and we’re quite compact as well. A lot of people live within 5-10km of the city – you can get in and out in around twenty minutes. Thirty minutes’ worth is your suggested daily exercise, and if you walk or cycle you’ve already done that by taking a journey you have to anyway. Traffic is terrible, so you get to avoid that. It’s good for your mental health. And it’s cost-free.
Everybody is a pedestrian at some point in their day, and we’re really trying to make Dublin more pedestrian friendly. We’re talking about real, sustainable change as to how we navigate the city. We’ve made big leaps forward with cycling in recent years; we’re here to stay, and it’s the way forward. There’s still conflict on the roads, and people still pit themselves against each other, cyclists versus drivers versus bus users… That’s something we’re really going to work on. We’re all intermodal: I drive, I cycle, I walk, take the bus, the Luas… It’s about being mindful that we’re all individuals, and we all want to get where we’re going in a fast and efficient manner. Within that, a bit of respect goes a long way.
My cycle to work? I live in Kimmage, so it’s three-and-a-half miles both ways, which takes me just over fifteen minutes on the way in, and twenty-five on the way home. I slow down a bit in the evening. It’s slightly uphill on the way home, too. At least that’s my excuse (laughs). I’m not that fast, I get overtaken a lot, but I’m happy, and I arrive there safe. Where do I like to walk? I’m a bit of a hiker, so I love the Dublin mountains, and Glendalough. All uphill from here, literally (laughs).
I have kids myself, and I’m conscious of the fact that we all need to be healthier. It’s too easy to sit around, eat poorly, and be sedentary. Anything that I can do in my own small way to help that, I’m delighted. And that’s why I’m doing what I do. We need more cyclists. If they don’t cycle, they’re probably going to drive, that means more traffic, more CO2, there’s a big knock-on effect – we’re trying to create the sustainable way forward. And bring the city along with us.
To find out more on Dublin City Council’s cycling initiatives visit Cycle Dublin.ie.
Sarah Scannell was talking to Derek O’Connor