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Bad News about some events in Dublin!

Today I have lots of bad news and I am reluctant to spread all this doom and gloom because I prefer to spread joyful and happy news, but our event world in Dublin got some very unfortunate news that I have to share with you!

Yesterday the organisers of the Oktoberfest Dublin announced on Facebook (www.facebook.com/OktoberfestDublin/posts/2441964082556827) that “the 2019 event cannot go ahead due to unprecedented increases in our insurance premium”.

They then continue to explain that the claim culture in Ireland brought them to the decision to take a break this year. At the end of the post they offer some hope by saying “[we] ask you to look forward to Oktoberfest 2020.”

BUT there are other developments that will make Oktoberfest 2020 VERY unlikely: Dublin City is attempting to implement a “Water Animation Strategy” (Yep! That’s what they call it!), which will see George’s Dock being turned into a 250m long commercial whitewater kayaking course for a whopping 15mio. So then there will be no more events on the platform in George’s Dock or around the chq Building. (www.thejournal.ie/outdoor-pool-kayaking-ifsc-3965859-Apr2018/) And since an event like the Oktoberfest needs some suitable space where neighbours won’t complain about a beer festival until late in the evening, it is very unlikely that another venue will be found.

This is bad news for events in Dublin, but I hear some of you saying that it is just a beer festival, so not the biggest loss. You might be right, but read on…

In other recent news, the organisers of the “Dublin Flea Christmas Market” have announced (dublinchristmasflea.ie/) that the market will NOT take place anymore. In 2018 it was at the Point Village and happened over two weekends with 280 stalls. In 2019 there will be no more market because no suitable venue can be found (the building where the market took place in the last few years now has a tenant and is not available anymore).

Since this was the last large scale Christmas Market (not in the traditional meaning of a Christmas Market, but still a big market at Christmas!), this means that we really have hit rock bottom as far as Christmas events are concerned. Dublin City would have to take ownership of a market and NOT outsource it to an event management company, that’s how markets can be so successful in Germany and Austria and Poland etc, but Dublin City has no real interest!

One indication is this: If you had some hope that the closing of College Green for traffic would get Dublin City to put on some brilliant events, you will unfortunately be very disappointed.
Last weekend was the first of a few temporary College Green closures which will happen this summer to test the impact the pedestrianisation of this area could have and Dublin City promised “three great events” over three weeks under the headline “Summer Sundays on College Green”.
But the first one was the poorest of events that you could imagine. :-O The whole area from Trinity College to George’s Street was closed for traffic, but nothing was done with it! The area was just empty! A few small tents on the median just outside the Bank of Ireland building invited to “Drawing in the City”, but if that is what Dublin City calls a “great event”, we are truly doomed!

With over 80,000 followers and with a reach of over 30,000 for the weekly event post, we are one of the biggest event communities in Dublin and definitely the biggest community for free events. So can we do something to improve the situation in Dublin? Leave your suggestions below and also please spread the news to your friends, families and colleagues!

May your week be Event-Full!

–Joerg
(www.dublineventguide.com)

Catalonia Mess Spills Over to Dublin

Many years ago I met an elderly man from Catalonia who regularly left his home to spray political graffiti in favour of Catalan Independence on house walls in the town he lived. He was a nice man, but a nutcase at the same time. He did a good few other rebellious things as well. Nothing too big, but still his own bit of civil disobedience.

At the time I read some information about Catalan Independence and it just didn’t make sense to me. In an age where working together is 100 times better than working against each other, it doesn’t make sense to declare independence in one small part of a big country even if that part at the time is relatively wealthy. It doesn’t make sense in Belgium, not in Germany (Bavaria would love to be independent) or in Catalonia and it certainly also extends to the nonsensical Brexit. We don’t have to agree with the status quo, the current rules of engagement and we should improve these rules, but the only future the internationally extremely small countries in Europe have is if they will work together.

So, Catalan independence doesn’t make sense, BUT I think their current rules of engagement with the rest of Spain has to be looked at and should be improved. They called the referendum some weeks ago and it would have been really interesting to see a democratic result of that referendum not the skewed result that it had. But I was SHOCKED when I saw some of the pictures and videos about how the Spanish police acted against their own PEACEFUL Spanish neighbours. An absolutely unacceptable case of unjustifiable brutality. The Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has proven that he is a totally incompetent politician and suddenly I had some sympathy for the Catalan fight for independence. I still think it is ludicrous, but if that is the treatment you get from the central government, then you just HAVE to rebel to a degree.

It is nonsense to jail Catalan politicians and to accuse them of rebellion. A dialogue and a compromise has to happen! It can’t be that the rest of Spain will milk Catalonia, but it also doesn’t make sense for Catalonia to split from the rest. Madness on both sides!!!

But now the madness has reached us in Dublin!

John Lyons and Tina McVeigh from People Before Profit have put a motion forward in Dublin City Council to raise the Catalan flag on top of City Hall for a month to show Dublin’s solidarity with Catalonia. And a protocol meeting of Dublin City Councillors voted in favour of this suggestion with 7:5 votes. On Monday 04 December the whole council will now vote about the Catalan flag in City Hall.

Without a doubt the Spanish government is shivering in their boots with fear. Imagine if Dublin raises the Catalan flag, it might mean that Spain will have to give Catalonia the independence they want, because Dublin says so!! TOTAL nonsense!

But if councillors will vote for it, we will have to ask WHY only one month?! Maybe we could replace the Dublin flag with the Catalan flag for good? And why only the Catalan flag, I am sure there are other parts of the world where people are oppressed. The Palestinian flag was already flying over City Hall. But there are more countries or parts of countries that should get our support. Next John Lyons will suggest to fly the Cork flag over City Hall to support Cork’s quest for independence? Odd people in the City Council! :-O

Dublin City’s silly fight against competing bikes: BleeperBike

We all know and love the Dublin Bikes. The Dublin Bike scheme is a huge success and will hopefully get expanded more and more. Back when it was introduced, a somewhat dubious deal was struck with advertisement company JCDecaux and I am still not convinced that that was the right decision by Dublin City. Since then the cost to run the scheme seem to be outrageously high and some have wondered where the money really go. And the increase in charges some while ago also weren’t the best news. So there are some issues, but all in all it is a really good scheme. AND it is a very financially stable scheme, which means that competition couldn’t really harm it: There is more demand than the Dublin Bike scheme can deliver and the prices are in general so low that any other bike rental business would find it difficult to harm the Dublin Bike business.

Regarding the future of traffic in Dublin we are constantly shown by Dublin City’s actions that the shift from cars to bikes is a huge and definite goal for Dublin.

In this bike-positive climate and having seen the same in many other European cities, a private company has decided that they want to also offer a bike rental scheme that will – to a degree – compete with the Dublin Bikes scheme, but at the same time it will not compete at all. The company is called BleeperBike and their approach is that that put bikes on bike stands in the City Centre (NOT at prescribed locations!) and you can find the bike through an app. Through that app you also book the bike and pay for the use. The fact that bikes can be in locations that are not “bike terminals” is a big advantage (Flexibility!) but the price is a LOT higher than the Dublin Bikes price.

If you use a BleeperBike for 2x 20 minute rides every working day of the year, you will pay EUR 440 in the year (Each ride up to 1 hour is 1 Euro.). If you use Dublin Bikes for your 2×20 min trips on 220 days per year, you will pay just EUR 25. So the difference is sooooo dramatic, that the BleeperBikes will never fully compete with Dublin Bikes for regular users. VERY infrequent users could however terminate their Dublin Bike card and pay the occasional Euro. And because I expect that Dublin City plans to increase the basic fee step by step (I don’t think it is justified by the way!) a pay-as-you-go scheme would be very unwelcome competition.

So what happened? BleeperBike announced that they will launch in July or maybe even before (this week was even mentioned) and immediately Dublin City goes into panic mode and spits out silly and nonsensical threats.

For example Dublin City says that the bike scheme does not have its consent to operate. So what? As long as BleeperBike doesn’t break any laws – and it doesn’t seem to – who cares about their “consent”.
DCC also have warned us that we would be using the service at their own risk? Excuse me? Is that any different than when I use my own bike? Or when I cross the street? It is the idiotic “Health & Safety” excuse that is used in Ireland whenever people have run out of arguments against something.
But it gets better! The next argument against BleeperBike is that Dublin City would have to first ensure that “there is adequate cycle parking capacity in city centre locations”. Who wrote that?????? Will we soon have check points at access roads where the (private) bikes are counted and the gate will get closed if too many people enter the city on bikes? And with all the cars that are taken out of the city we sure have more than enough space for bikes.
Next argument: Dublin City has to ensure “that bikes are not abandoned at unsuitable locations”. How is that different for my own bike than for a rental bike scheme?
Bu if you thought you have heard now the hight of stupidity, we are not finished yet. The final clincher from DCC’s point of few seems to be the threat that “Dublin City Council is empowered under Section 71 of the Roads Act 1993 to remove unlicensed items on the footpath/roadway without further notice.” That law was made to give the authorities the right to remove signs/advertisement that is not licensed, not to remove your bikes (or someone else’s bikes) whenever they feel like! And they use the fact that (very small!!) BleeperBikes’s name is written on the bikes. If you go to the BleeperBike website, you will see that it is TINY writing and would be not bigger than the brand/manufacturer name that is printed on every bike, but DCC is clearly grasping for straws.

I have no connection with BleeperBikes and heard the first time about it today! But I think DCCis REALLY going over the top here. Sure, competition blocking is always a cool thing if you want a monopoly, but in my opinion it will be a good thing if there will be some competition. It will keep DCC on their toes, one would hope.

…and if you have concerns then at least use proper arguments instead of nonsensical ones.

Here are some links:
The Journal.ie wrote about DCCs objections here.
The Dublin Bilkes website is www.dublinbikes.ie and the BleeperBike site is www.bleeperbike.com

By the way: The BleeperBike website is really not finished yet and the app crashes every time you try to start it, so they have a LOT more work to do before they can even compete with Dublin Bikes. But the above opinion is about the principle and about how bully tactics are used instead of genuine arguments.

College Green Plaza – The Good and the Bad

Already more than 2 weeks ago the Irish Times reported about the new layout and timescales of the creation of the College Green plaza. I had planned to write about it here before, but only now got the time. Anyway, the creation will take at least another 5 months until it has planning permission and then another 18 months until it is finished. So there is still plenty of time to discuss it’s good and bad sides.

As a car driver I am not completely thrilled with the increasing pedestrianisation of Dublin, but as a Dublin Bike cyclist, pedestrian and as an Electric Unicycle user (ask if you want to know! ;-) ), more car free areas make sense to me. So I am always a little conflicted when it comes to changes like that.

However, as long as the changes are good, we will all get used to it and will gain from it. So, are the changes good?

1) I think having a central civil plaza in Dublin is a great development and much needed.

2) It will HAVE to be available for events (e.g. regular flea or food market, gigs, street performance and busking). Unfortunately Dublin City has in the past been more a spoil sport than a supporter, but here is an opportunity to do better!

3) Ban ALL cars from the plaza! Obviously the LUAS will have to go through it and that’s not a problem and as long as they use the same lane, Busses could also go through, but MAKE SURE that there will be NO taxis! It just doesn’t make sense to have a pedestrianised plaza and then allow taxis to compete with each other for business or to have a situation where they suddenly stop to pick up people and therefore interfere with LUAS and busses.

4) I read about “32 water jets” and was concerned that a fountain will be built there. This would immediately reduce the flexibility the plaza will provide. But on closer inspection it looks like 32 water jets built into the street level surface. So there is no fountain, but the water will come directly out of the “floor”. Nothing new or unique, many cities have similar fountains, but there is nothing wrong with that.

5) Unfortunately the existing trees will all be cut down. Not something I like the idea of. Yes, new trees will be planted, but that doesn’t replace 1:1 an existing tree. I do understand though why the current trees are in the way. To make maximum use of the plaza you have to get rid of use-limiting features in the wrong places.

6) 18 months of more digging in Dublin doesn’t sound great, but hopefully the result will be worth it

7) If there is a nice civil plaza, it would be great to sit there and enjoy the place during weather like we had this week. But benches or concrete blocks or other street furniture to sit on will automatically reduce the versatility of the plaza. So as a result, you can’t really provide anything that will make the plaza more “homely”.

So all in all, it seems to be a good idea, that makes a lot of sense. But my non-negotiable requirement would be that the car ban is absolute and includes taxis and my other requirement would be that use of the plaza will be regulated already now and will explicitly permit all types of busking and street performance.

What do you think about the proposed design?

30 km/h Speed Limit on all Residential Roads!

You might think it is an April Fool’s Joke, but such nonsense is just day-to-day business in Dublin: From 01 April there is a 30 km/h speed limit on all residential roads between the canals all day, every day. I am totally on favour of 30 km/h speed limits near schools, in areas with a large amount of pedestrians and in other danger spots. But a blanked speed limit of 30 km/h is total nonsense.

Dublin City claims it will save lives, but they don’t seem to substantiate that with clear numbers that tell us how many people actually died in traffic accidents between the canals in the last 12 months or the last few years. And out of these fatal accidents, I would like to know how many involved a speed of the car of more than 30 km/h. I bet Dublin City has NO such numbers or statistics, so they just use the emotional argument that lives will be saved, expecting that everybody will shut up then.

Speed limits should make sense, then the majority of people will stick to them. But where they don’t make sense, the “30” signs are a waste of effort and the speed limit will have absolutely no effect.

At the time of writing this, the new speed limit wasn’t in effect yet, so we will have to see after 01 April if the “residential road” classification was applied to the right streets, let me know if you find streets that are in the speed limit zones that shouldn’t be. Oh and if you think it won’t affect you because you don’t have a car, think again: Every bus and every taxi will also have to adhere to the limit. (Only cyclists don’t have to! They can now easily overtake busses and cars at any speed they like because they can’t be taken to task when exceeding the limit.)

 
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