During the first few weeks of arriving in Dublin I had slipped and fell twice, ruined my tennis shoes, my boots had begun to tear apart at the soles and my feet were using muscles that I didn't know existed... this concept is called walking. We do it a lot here. A lot a lot. Coming from a small town where we drive everywhere and a school campus where I can walk 10 minutes to class, this was new to me, this walking thing. 30 minutes to the grocery store, 30 minutes to class, 30 minutes to work... everything is 30 minutes away on foot.
It didn't take me long to notice a lot of people riding similar blue bikes and put the pieces of the puzzle together: dublin bikes.
Look...They even come complete with a cute little basket, a headlight and a bell!
Step 1. Active Observation (aka terrified of cycling on the wrong side of the road)
This is what I told my friends when they asked why I hadn't gotten my pass yet... "I'm just observing for a couple weeks so I don't kill myself." I wasn't observing... I was scared of being run over by a double decker city bus.
Step 2. Sealing the Deal.
I finally decided to do what I had been talking about since we arrived. I got on my computer and visited the dublin bikes website to order my membership card online. 10 euro for a year-long pass! That means I can use any of the Dublin bikes for 30 minutes or less without paying extra. Every half hour after that is around 50 cents or something... this is a STEAL.
Step 3. You've Got Mail.
My very first piece of mail to my apartment in Dublin: my Dublin Bikes membership. Pathetic, I know, but I was still so excited (for the record, since then I have received 1 other thing in the mail: a St. Patrick's Day card). So I read up on my road safety and learned a little bit about the bikes system. There are 40 stations around the city and each of them have a computer screen and a set of bikes at separate stations. All you have to do is scan your card and choose an available bike- then you're free to cycle where the wind blows... at least for 30 minutes. with traffic. on the wrong side of the road. next to crazy taxis and large buses. It couldn't be that bad... or could it?
Here's an example of one of the 40 stations situated throughout the city
Step 4. Just Do It.
I carried my membership card around with me for about 2 weeks before I finally tried it. I got off of work late and didn't have the energy to walk home, so I figured it was time. I walked up to the stand awkwardly looking around to watch what other cyclists were doing. I scanned my card, feeling like a VIP member of a club and followed the directions. They couldn't have made it any easier to do this. So I filled my basket, lowered my seat (apparently a giant had taken my bike before me) and took off... in the wrong direction. Long story short, I hadn't noticed until that day just how many 1-way roads there are in the city. Bummer for me... I was literally going in circles. It probably ended up taking me 30 minutes to get home... just the same as if I had walked. But the good news is I finally tried the bike! WAHOO!
I have done it a few times since, but still am uneasy about it. My goal for the next couple weeks is to use it as much as I can! I will report back with any sudden injuries or near-death experiences.