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The Mayor Necessities
Andrew Montague is coming to the end of his one-year term as Lord Mayor of Dublin. In a refreshingly candid interview, the Labour councillor talks about God, love, addiction, the Dublin Bike scheme which he initiated – and why we should have an elected Lord Mayor for the city.
Olaf Tyaransen, 27 Jun 2012
What about George Redmond?
Corruption will always be there when there’s massive temptation – so we have to remove the temptation from Irish politics. That means we need to remove that particular bugbear of the rezoning of agricultural land because massive amounts of money can be made at the stroke of a pen: land values can increase ten-fold. I think corruption will come back to haunt us if we don’t remove that temptation – which can be done with a massive windfall tax of 75% or the Kenny proposal years ago which meant that the value would accrue to the State.
You were responsible for introducing the hugely successful Dublin Bikes scheme to the city.
I started cycling in Dublin in 1998 and it was grand, but tough getting around. What really opened my eyes was I went on holidays to Utrecht, and it was such a pleasure to cycle in Holland. There was a bike rack at every door of every shop, and of every cinema, of every theatre, and every church. Everything was set up for cyclists in Holland. So when I got elected to the council I was interested in improving facilities for cyclists. It’s only €10 to join the Dublin Bike scheme per year. I knew that if we made it easy for people to join, those people who had been thinking about cycling would do it. A large proportion of our customers have only cycled twice a year but once you get them in the door and they see how pleasant it can be to cycle around the city, a large number of the people who start cycling Dublin Bikes go on and buy their own bike. We’re bringing a whole new audience to cycling.
You were also responsible for bringing in the 30km per hour speed limit on the quays, which proved rather less popular...
There was fierce resistance to that and I have to say, from a political point of view, I certainly didn’t win too many friends (laughs). But I brought it in around about the same time we brought in the Dublin Bike scheme and I think it was essential for the two of them. They went hand in hand and I don’t think the Dublin Bikes would be near as successful if people didn’t feel safe cycling in the city.