Political journalism is more zoo than Savannah, more Shawshank than redemption.
Most of the stuff we write about takes place in the Dáil or Seanad. If it doesn’t, more often than not it’s a stand-up interview on the plinth (the raised platform in the front yard of Lenister House); or outside the gates of Leinster House; or it’s a press conference in a meeting room of one of the nearby hotels, Buswells or the Merrion.
So you can guess there was a sense of liberation – almost of mitching from school – yesterday when the Greens announced they would be holding a ‘rolling press conference’. It was a good idea. The bikes, high-vis jackets and bicycle clips were all provided to journalists and photographers who needed them (by Cycleways). Two experienced tour guides (Eamon Ryan and Ciaran Cuffe) provided the commentary. A coffee stop for lattes and pastries was organised. The Green Party’s press office Damian Connon had even done a ‘recce’ of the route a day or two beforehand to make sure it took no more than an hour.
It was a highly enjoyable exercise, helped by sunshine. The novel aspect more or less guaranteed more coverage than they could ever hope for from a sermon delivered from a long table in a cramped room in a hotel……
I cycle everywhere in Dublin. So the Greens message in this regard found a willing audience. If you are on a bike it’s nightmarish having to deal with five lanes of traffic on Pearse Street and Tara Street, or on the Southern Quays which are a disgrace.
Eamon Ryan eulogised about what Dublin could look like. A cycle and pedestrian friendly boulevard along the Liffey. Another boulevard linking North Side to South Side beside the tram line that will link the two Luas lines. Two-way cycle lanes throughout the city, even going against the traffic on streets that are one-way for cars.
It all sounds fantastic. But we’ll all be dead and gone by the time Dublin City Council get around to it all.In fairness, the new City Bike scheme (based on the successful French Velib) scheme is being introduced this year. And the tax incentive for those who commute to work by bike is successful. But what was that slogan again, about a lot being done and a lot more to do?