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COLM TOBIN: It’s handbrakes at dawn if you’re in the wrong lane in the capital

August 15th, 2022 11:00 AM

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THERE has been consternation in my northside Dublin locale this past week.

It’s like the Civil War all over again here, except instead of Pro-Treaty v Anti-Treaty sides it’s split between the cycle lane posse and the combustion engine crowd.

Blood wasn’t spilt or anything, but there was some incessant beeping and I have it on good authority that one of the cyclists became violent and recklessly threw a granola bar.

The kerfuffle is all about the closure of one of the main corridors into Dublin City Centre to facilitate the building of cycling infrastructure from Clontarf into town (notice the way I call it ‘town’ now like I’m Ronnie Drew or something).

The route is an extension of the coastal cycleway which hugs the coastline all the way from my place in Marino out beyond Bull Island to Sutton, and where I can be found three of four evenings a week pumping sweat on my bike listening to heavy metal from the 1990s. It is on this path that I wage my personal war on time, reality, entropy and the predictable effects that takeaways have around the middle part of the torso.

Essentially, cars have been blocked from travelling into the city centre along a certain part of the North Strand Road which many of you will know from your trips to Croker to watch Cork lose.

The car crowd is livid because the road is being closed off for a year. They are claiming civil rights abuses. It even got so bad that Marty Whelan (Lotto guy, likes mornings) tweeted his disapproval last week referring to his ‘last day before the roadworks kick in and private drivers are kicked out’.

Some local groups are also expressing disapproval as they were never informed the road would be closed for so long, which is fair enough.

Thing is, you can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs. And you can’t create a functioning, liveable city without annoying a few drivers. And the cars aren’t being blocked in the first place. They are merely being diverted for two minutes down another road.   

For the name of God.

In truth, we can’t create a sustainable country if we don’t bloody well change our culture. I’m not anti-car by any means. I’d hate to have to get to West Cork to visit the folks by relying on public transport. I drive an SUV. I come from generations of people who loved to drive, both professionally and for sport.

But I am against those long lines of single-occupant cars that choke up my part of Dublin every day. And I am very much pro having a safe, Dutch-style cycle path that will guide my young family into town as they get older. Having spent years cycling in the shadow of buses and in fear of feral taxi drivers, not to mention the unpredictability of private cars and how murderous their occupants might be feeling on any given day, I welcome the changes and say to those who are inconvenienced by progress – suck it up! We’ve been sucking up your petrol and diesel fumes for long enough.

Outfoxed in my garden

AS you can guess, I’m all for saving the planet and rewilding the country but this week I found out that even I have my limits. In fact, nature was far too close at hand for my liking. First of all, I woke to find a fox balmed out on the sun loungers at the bottom of my garden on Thursday. He was happy as a … well, a fox on a lounger, I suppose. Basking in the morning sun like butter wouldn’t melt. At first, I thought it was a lovely and unusual sight, a little bit of mother nature in the concrete jungle of the city. That’s until I went down to inspect more closely what the little f***er had been up to.

He had torn the lounger cushions to smithereens and left his stinky paw marks all over it. And there is nothing quite like the smell of a wild animal on your furniture. Then I went on to find a burst football that he had been trying to eat during the night. Gladly, it was a blue Dublin football so I’ll have to give the lad credit for getting rid of that. But stil l… I won’t be asking him back, put it that way. A friend of mine informed me that a good way to keep them out of the garden is by urinating around the periphery… And I thought going out at night to fork slugs from the vegetable patch was the low point of my forties.

Beyond the jackeen fox, we also had an invasion of fruit flies this week which was Putin-like in its initial intensity. As is the case during all emergencies, I went and asked Twitter what to do.

There were various practical, folksy suggestions that involved apple cider vinegar, washing up liquid and, ya know, actually cleaning the place.

But in the end, I just gave up and handed them the keys to the house. It is their property now. We will only stay for as long as we are welcome.

So no, I am not in favour of re-introducing wolves.

Why the long face, pony?

SPEAKING of beasts, did you hear about the pony called Patrick who was elected mayor of the Devon town of Cockington? Me neither. Brexit is going well, says you.

Apparently, the pony was elected the village’s mayor in 2019 after 200 locals voted him in on the eve of the last mayor’s death. You’d wonder how bad the previous must have been.

Anyway, this week, he was barred from his local pub because they didn’t have planning permission to keep him in the corner in a pen where people would come and pet his head and, I suppose, ask for help with passport applications etc. It reminds me of how Bertie ran the country from Fagan’s there for a spell.

So that’s a shame for poor aul’ Patrick the pony. Out on his ear, so to speak.

There have been other animal leaders, of course. Bosco the dog was mayor of Sunol, California; Lincoln the goat became mayor of Fair Haven, Vermont and Sweet Tart the cat was elected mayor of Omena, Michigan.

There was also that dark period in the early 80s when Judge from Wanderly Wagon annexed Rockall, but we don’t talk about that.

So, I’ve got my eye on this fox at the bottom of the garden.

He could be a future lord mayor of Dublin, for all I know, and rip out all the cycle paths from Clontarf into town. Let’s just hope himself and the fruit flies don’t form a coalition.

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