Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Dublin Bikes

A Kelly other than the boy from KillaneLike Miss Kelly Brook here on our left, An Spailpín Fánach dreams of the wind in his hair. Or at least, what’s left of his hair.

The Dublin Bikes initiative has your diarist’s imagination in thrall. Just as John Keats was taken to new and unexplored worlds when he first looked into George Chapman’s translation of Homer, so An Spailpín Fánach dreams of travelling in the realms of gold, and many goodly states and kingdoms seeing.

Freed from shackled traffic, I dream of whizzing around the city on that most noble, that most Irish of forms of transport, the bicycle. I would take a spin along the south side, perhaps, through the great Georgian facades of Merrion Square and Fitzwilliam Square. I could roll across the canal at Mount Street Bridge, salute the bould Paddy Kavanagh, immortalised in bronze forever, and then carry out his own instructions and look out for his ghost on the Pembroke Road, dishevelled with shoes untied.

Or I could criss-cross the Liffey in the manner of that other great song, and follow the pursuit of the man who was so badly smitten with the Spanish Lady, up and around by the Gloucester Diamond and ‘round by Napper Tandy’s house.

I’d be out of the saddle pumping the pedals like a man who feared hellhounds on his trail at the Gloucester Diamond, of course, but still. Dublin has been lacking short hop city centre transport since Ryan Tubridy’s grandfather put an end to the trams and the Dublin Bikes scheme is as close the municipality has come to fixing that ancient error.

So I made my way as far as the bike depot beside Pearse Street last week, and went for it. The annual sub is cheaper, of course, but the website says you must wait fourteen days for your card, and An Spailpín is not as young as he was. I shoved in my flexible friend, and waited for something to happen.

Nothing happened. The whole thing froze. I didn’t know if my details had been read, if my card had been scanned, or what happened.

I turned around. There was a citizen behind me, with his mobile phone in his hand.

“Same thing happened me,” he said. “I had to ring them back. I’ve been here for ten minutes.”

I looked at my credit card. I looked at the machine. I looked at the bikes, all lined up at a rakish angle, gleaming and new, with solid frames, handy front baskets and snazzy blue mudguards on the back wheel. I bid my dreams of freedom adieu, turned up my collar and walked on, hoping to catch a bus on the quays.

Technorati Tags: , , ,