Saturday, June 16, 2007

Climb Aboard

Leading by example, that's the image that Minister Eamon Ryan presented when he turned up for his first day on the job. If a man's to be the face of energy and natural resources, he'd best be aware of the press and the television camera. And so, the member of the Green Party rode his bicycle to work and urged others to follow suit.

Begin by living close to your job. Admittedly, that could be difficult if you work in central Dublin and you can't even hope to afford as much as a single room nearby, what with the price of real estate these days. File a complaint with Mr. Ryan or sue the government to provide accommodations for workers who wish to peddle rather than put the peddle to the metal. You'd cycle if you could, and it's up to the State to make it possible.

Need to pick up the week's shopping at Tesco or Superquinn? You've only the basket on your bicycle, remember, so you'll have to shop daily. That should help you cut food costs. Only what you can carry, and once you've picked up the essentials, well, no room to port that giant pack of Fig Rolls, is there? What about it, ladies? Perhaps two or three trips per day might be needed to keep the larder stocked. You should petition the government to mandate breaks during the day, with pay of course, so that you can cycle to the grocer's, bring home the bacon, and then head back to work.

Car-pooling the kids to sports and dance and music lessons and tutoring after school could become a bit of a challenge, but there are carriers available that attach easily to the rear wheel or seat post. With careful packing, you could stuff at least six children, one soccer ball, and the sports drinks for the team. If this is currently illegal, it's merely a matter of petitioning Mr. Ryan to craft the proper legislation to make it possible for mothers (and the occasional father) to haul around several children.

Mr. Ryan has admitted that he may not always be able to ride his bicycle wherever he needs to go. Of course, he could hire a rickshaw to carry him, leaving him free to sit in the back seat and work on his government papers and arrive for a meeting looking fresh and well-groomed. He could set the example, and then all the well-heeled of Dublin would hop on the trendy bandwagon. Why peddle your own self, when you can afford to hire someone to do it for you? And what better way to get home after a night at the local?

Would the gardai be put back on bicycles? That could be a bit of a problem, trying to chase after a criminal who's driving a car. To make things equal, the government will have to enact new legislation that adds extra penalties for those who elude the guards via petrol-guzzling motor vehicles rather than leg-powered locomotion. And drink driving penalties will have to be changed, to reflect the fact that a drunkard can easily elude the breathalyzer by speeding up when he sees the garda at a roadblock just outside the pub.

Ireland is well on its way to reducing its dependence on foreign oil. If everyone would join together and do their part to cut back on energy consumption, carbon emissions would plummet. As for installing better insulation for efficient heating, and adding solar panels to reduce electric usage, everyone should step up and do their part. Keep in mind, however, that you'll need to do some heavy thinking to figure out how to carry all that home on the bar of your bike.

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