Happy National Helmet Week!

Make sure you wear your cycling and motoring helmet this week as it’s National Helmet Week in Ireland.

The Department of Transport and others have gotten together this week to promote helmet use, mainly aimed at cyclists. The department has spent money advertising the use of helmets at bus shelters, in a supplement in the Irish Independent newspaper and elsewhere. You can even download the posters (as above) your self on the Helmet Week website’s poster page.

But, with political correctness gone mad and that diversity nonsense, at least one anti-helmet event is somehow being run under the banner of National Helmet Week. Dublin City Council have asked that dangerous Cycle Chic promoter, Mikael Colville-Andersen, to come to Dublin.  

This reckless Cycle Chic stuff has already made its way into a few national newspapers. However, we’re assured that the model pictured in these newspapers to promote the so-called Cycle Chic event only cycled without a helmet with an ambulance and a team of brain surgeons standing by. Everybody is warned not to try this at home, and don’t even think about trying it in public.

Cycling is dangerous. It’s very dangerous to cycle without a helmet or high-vis, says the Road Safety Authority. The authority adds that high-viz should be worn at all times even when it’s really sunny. Because cycling is dangerous. Actually, if everybody would be nice enough to stop cycling, the Road Safety Authority would be happy as then there would be no cycling deaths on the roads.

the information age of then...

Quick guide to Access to Information on the Environment

the information age of then...
Image by jaeming, Some Rights Reserved

Access to Information on the Environment (AIE) is a free powerful tool for getting information from public authorities. Don’t get put off by the name, it’s wide ranging in scope.

Thanks to Gavin Sheridan (of thestory.ie) for writing about this first on journalist.ie. The following is also based on the Department of the Environment’s more detailed guide for public authorities, the regulations, as well as my own limited experience of requesting information under AIE.

Continue reading “Quick guide to Access to Information on the Environment”

More proof Docklands authority should be abolished

Ok, so, Frank McDonald gave far more comprehensive reasons in The Irish Times, but this kind of thing shows signs of dysfunctional thinking…

Why on earth does the Dublin Docklands Development Authority think people at the Docklands Maritime Festival these signs at pedestrian crossings?

The event also used the barriers, as shown below, all along the docklands. Penning in pedestrians where there is no need to, even along very quite roads along the south docklands. Other countries or even many Irish local authorities would close off parking spaces and parts of road if needed where there is going to be a mass of people at a festival. What a waste of time and money, no matter how small.

And blocking part of a tactile pedestrian crossing — as below — must be against the disability acts and simply dangerous or at least an unnecessary inconvenience for disabled people. That side of the crossing which is blocked is the side a blind person would be more likely standing.

And this isn’t the only sign of dysfunctional thinking — remember, it’s the agency which stands over trying to ban photography in the IFSC (a large area of the Docklands, not just the IFSC building), and told me it would prefer if anybody wants to take photos in the rest of the docklands they should ask first. The Dublin Docklands Development Authority also have created some of the most dysfunctional cycle lanes on straight and large streets in Dublin, which is really saying something.

Dublinbikes first day

2009: A good year for cycling in Ireland?

Dublinbikes first day
Cycling is in fashion, even in Ireland. There has been a number of  signs of continued growth in cycling here this year. The phrase “On your bike!” started to be sicking. Sub editors showed they never read newspapers, with ‘on your bike’ appearing in headlines again and again on some of the many cycling articles this year, even on an Irish Times editorial.

Continue reading “2009: A good year for cycling in Ireland?”

Recent updates

As I seem to be using Twitter for many links I would usually put on this blog, here’s some of the recent Twitter updates from @cianginty:

  • ‘Taoiseach in High Court challenge to release Cabinet CO2 document’ http://www.irishtimes.com/n… …Getting a look at the minutes of Cabinet discussions on Ireland’s emissions would be interisting to say the least
  • UK universities told to cutting emissions 50% by 2020 against 1990 levels, and 80% by 2050 http://bit.ly/cfz2v > Will the same happen here?
  • ‘2 million Irish voters vs 100 million’, French Euro minister is quoted as saying by France24. Does he remember how the French people voted?
  • Does anybody know why existing customer are unable to buy iPhones from 02’s website?
  • LINK FAIL: Electric Picnic newsletter with no link to the website or where one could buy tickets.

Any chances of open, honest debate on the EU?

John Bruton wrote in The Irish Times on Monday on how Irish sovereignty would be maximised under the Lisbon treaty. Bruton, a former Taoiseach and current EU ambassador to the US, referred to Department of Foreign Affairs’ white paper on the treaty (PDF).

On the white paper, Bruton states:

“It also said that Ireland’s full participation in the EU is a means of ‘maximising our real sovereignty’.”

But on “maximising sovereignty” the white paper only says:

By concentrating on maximising our real sovereignty — our capacity to influence events at home and abroad – we have been able to draw very significant benefit from our role as a positive and constructive member of the EU.

It mentions this under the title ‘Ireland’s Experience of EU Membership’, and does not in the same breath mention anything about “full participation” in the EU as a means of “maximising our real sovereignty”.

On military missions and common defence, “sovereign decision” and a “sovereign right” are brought up. The white paper refers to EU members as “sovereign States” twice, as follows:

“The Treaty reflects the collective view of 27 sovereign States on how we can best manage our unique relationship within the EU. It aims to equip the Union with the tools it needs to help us deal with the challenges posed by an enlarged Union and a changed world”.

And here:

“The operation of the Union’s institutions reflects the unique character of the Union, a body within which 27 sovereign States  work together in areas defined by the EU Treaties in pursuit of their shared values and interests”.

But as far as I can see Bruton is claiming the white papers says something it does not. It makes up a large part of his article and even the headline of the same (although, an editor or sub-editor could have written the headline).

Whatever about the “real” sovereignty which Bruton and the Department fail to explain, actual sovereignty (ie what is generally accepted as the meaning of the word) is diminished by the EU. Anybody who is even just a little pro-EU should be able to agree that you give away a bit of sovereignty for the advantages of membership of the EU. Anybody who agrees should be saying ‘yes, we give away a bit of sovereignty for other advantages’.

The problem is giving away sovereignty is problematic area in Ireland after having to fight for our independence, and Ireland’s cuts from that struggle have far from fully healed. Indeed with nationalism still strong around Europe, it can be seen as a problematic area in many countries. So, maybe the ultra-pro-EU have valid reasons from twisting the truth about sovereignty?

However, without open and honest debate we get deeper and deeper into lies (on the pro and anti Lisbon and EU sides). It’s a problem for the whole of the EU. More integration is a project been pushed forward again and again, open debate is lacking all-round. Open debate is not diplmats or governments meeting and working out what they agree on.

Conflict of interest?

What does Brian Cowen, Brian Lenihan, Anglo Irish Bank, Bank of Ireland, the National Treasury Management Agency, and the National Asset Management Agency (Nama) have in common? Law firm Arthur Cox. Interisting comment articles in The Irish Times yesterday, ‘Power of one’ and ‘Choice of Nama’s legal advisers poses difficult questions.’

From the latter, these are brilliant paragraphs:

Presumably, Cox will rely on the normal practice of seeking the consent of clients and setting up “Chinese walls” between the different parts of the firm dealing with the various clients.

You can’t helping thinking that by the time the Nama process is over, there will be so many “Chinese walls” at Cox’s head office that they will, like their namesake, be visible from space. And that is not to mention the “Chinese walls” that some of the Cox’s lawyers will have to erect in their own heads.

Famine & Byrne

Famine & Byrne, and Bertie Bills

Famine & Byrne

The blog of the guy who did that Famine & Byrne / Hardtimes stuff, ‘Will Saint Leger’, is here. The design of his “Bertie Bills” is great, on that he says:

The day before Bertie Ahern resigned from office, I loaded Molly Malone’s statue with £50,000 worth of ‘Bertie Bills’ for anyone to take away. People seemed reluctant to take dodgy money from a complete stranger, of course that wouldn’t be a problem for Bertie.

And he makes Victora look far more attractive than in real life. More on his site/blog and his flickr page.

(via @pkellypr)

“Absolute power corrupts absolutely”

As Patsy McGarry of the Times wrote the other day:

But there was also the parallel, deeply dark underbelly of the church at that time, as disclosed yesterday. The commission report records such levels of depravity and barbarity in the treatment of thousands of children by Brothers, priests and nuns that one can only conclude that it illustrates nothing less than an utterly dysfunctional and deeply corrupt institution.

It is such corruption as results from the regular and unaccountable exercise of absolute power. Then, as the great, Catholic, historian Lord Acton observed “absolute power corrupts absolutely”. The report illustrates voluminously the absolute corruption of an absolutely powerful institution.

We — as in Ireland in general, and maybe humans in general — learn too little or too slowly from the past.  We continue to ignore problems of the most vulnerable in society. Not at the same scale, but without protections in place, absolute power can easily occur on a smaller scale. We can’t say ‘never again’ when measures are clearly not in place to protect against abuse happening again.

Dublin cycle chic

Want to promote cycling in Ireland? Marketing it, and stop the scaremongering

Dublin cycle chic

Mikael Colville-Andersen, who runs Copenhagenize.com and Copenhagen Cycle Chic. In his own words: “The main point with my blogs is that if cycling is to be an everyday activity then it can easily be done in everyday clothes, like millions of Europeans do every day”.

In a post about the Velo-City conference, he points to a post by Guillaume Van der Stighelen, co-founder of marketing company Duval Guillaume, where Van der Stighelen talks about marketing cycling as a ‘hero brand’

“Most arguments are rational. Less CO2, more mobility, healthier. Well, those drivers know that. But that doesn’t convince them apparently. Let me tell you what the argument is: status it is”.

I suppose Colville-Andersen himself has gone some way in helping branding cycling — on his blogs, talking to the press from a few countries, and in video form:

Copenhagen – City of Cyclists from Colville Andersen on Vimeo.

More here, here, and here. And they even cycle in the snow in Denmark.

So, in Ireland, if government at local and national levels are serious about increasing cycling they need to stop the scaremongering nonsense and the misuse of taxpayers’ money on promotion of yellow vests and helmets. If you want to make sure cyclists are visible enforce the law of bicycle lights use. If you’re going to push cycle helmets which have flawed research backing their use, then promote motoring helmets too.

If you’re, say, the Labour Party and you talk about “Dublin Must Become A Copenhagen Or Amsterdam For Cyclists” then you don’t wear pointless helmets at your photo-shoot. If you’re the Green Party you should need to be told this in the first place. Err… but at least they are being green by reusing the one helmet at their photo-shoot?

Oh, and that’s not Copenhagen in the photograph above, it’s Dublin. And just to prove it’s possible to cycle like a normal person and it’s not a once off, here’s six more people cycling in Dublin, just one is wearing strange gear:

There's always one...

(the 6th person is behind the camera)

ADDED: Pushing ahead with the measures outlined in the recently published National Cycle Policy is needed too, but the importance of marketing is still a missing part of government plans. And not only is government at different levels not marketing cycling, their cheap but false safety promotion makes cycling appear more dangerous than it is — they enforce the myth that cycling is dangerous.