05 October 2008

I want to ride it where I like

Ah, the smell of Democracy is truly in the air this week. Posters have started to appear across the city reminding people of the upcoming deadline for registering to vote in next year's local and European elections. Local elections are open to anybody legally residing in Ireland, and European elections are open to all EU citizens.

I was really impressed to see that these posters are multilingual (Irish, English, Polish and Mandarin), and that information and registration forms are also available in other languages on Dublin City Council's website (Latvian, Lithuanian,Slovak, Russian).

What I was less impressed to see is the billboard that the poster has appeared on, one of the new 70 or so street level steel enclosures that the city has given JCDecaux in return for the Vélib-like city bicycle scheme. The free standing billboards have been up for a month or two, usually right beside a set of traffic lights, but so far there is no sign of even a single Vélib, nor any mention of an arrival date.

Estimates of the value of the advertising space have been placed as high as €100 Million, and in return JCDecaux are giving the city 450 bicycles, making each bike worth over €220,000. No doubt they will be made of solid gold with diamonds in the spokes and chinchilla fur saddles.

To say that the city got a bad deal is putting it mildly. However given the traditional level of apathy displayed by Dubliners towards local politics our only hope is that somewhere in the city there is a Chinese or Polish cycling-enthusiast upset enough by this to run for local office, and thanks to the new signage knows exactly how to go about doing it.

The City Council have sown the seeds of their own doom.

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