Asks for Local Elections Candidates

Irish Cycling Campaign has compiled our Top Asks for Local Election 2024 Candidates – as presented below.

Firstly though, we are reminding LE candidates from all parties that cycling is one of our most democratic, affordable and accessible means of transport. Cycling is a reliable mode for people at all income levels, especially those who struggle with economic uncertainty and rising energy costs. Cycling gives people an opportunity to stay healthy, which in turn saves society many millions of Euro in healthcare costs. More people cycling means cleaner air, a more rapid decarbonisation of the transport sector, less congested streets, and safer neighbourhoods.

Additionally, it is crucial that at a central government level, at least 20% of capital transport spending must continue to go on active travel, and that the vast majority of the rest is spent on radically improving our public transport systems.  

At a local government level, these are our asks:

  1. Higher sustainable transport targets 
  2. Rapid advancement of Cycle Networks 
  3. Advancing School Streets and Safe Routes to School 
  4. Higher quality cycle facilities 
  5. Upskilling of Local Authority staff and Councillors 
  6. Default 30km/h speed limits in built-up areas
  7. Development plans to prioritise
    – Land use planning that prevents car-dependent sprawl
    – Proper permeability and connectivity
    – Mandatory bike parking at new developments 
    – Maximum, not minimum, numbers of car parking spaces
    – Encouraging car share 
  8. Plans below Development Plan level mirroring the above
  9. Supporting voices from cycling advocacy to be on Council Committees 
  10. Enforcement of illegal car parking dealt with effectively 
  11. Imaginative promotion of everyday cycling for multiple journey types
  12. Auditing and maintaining all sustainable transport facilities to high standards

Note:
(1) Local Groups within Irish Cycling Campaign will be adding bespoke local asks for local candidates to this list.
(2) An Taisce – the National Trust for Ireland (https://www.antaisce.org/) also endorses our 12 listed asks.

A list with elaborated points can be read below. 

  1. Higher cycling, walking and public transport (modal share) targets – i.e. fewer journeys made by private motor cars (since EVs alone won’t bring us to the decarbonisation targets). 
  2. The implementation of the ‘Cycle Connects’ cycle networks and the metropolitan cycle network plans for Waterford, Cork, Limerick, Galway and the Greater Dublin Area. 
  3. Roll-out of school streets and Safe Routes to School interventions (including cycle parking). 
  4. Higher quality cycle facilities (i.e. not compromised at pinch points and junctions etc. and generally following the Cycle Design Manual) and smarter use of contra-flow and modal filters
  5. Upskilling of Local Authority staff and Councillors through CPD programmes and taking part in study trips to the Netherlands / Denmark, and attending the Velo-city conference, so that we end up with higher standards and better facilities etc. 
  6. Adoption of 30km/h default limits on built-up roads (to follow from new legislation)
  7. Development plan issues
    – Land use planning which encourages walking, cycling and public transport use and prevents car-dependent sprawl
    – Proper permeability and connectivity
    – Mandatory bike parking at new developments – apartments, shops, PT hubs / Higher Bike Parking standards (both numbers and quality of facilities) at various public locations (town centres, sports grounds, churches, gyms, hospitals, apartments etc.
    – Maximum, not minimum, numbers of car parking spaces (Cf. DHLG&H guidelines)
    – Encouraging car share (e.g. with dedicated car share spaces in new developments) 
  8. Plans below Development Plan level to mirror the above (e.g. Local Area Plans and Local Economic Community Plan (LECP))
  9. LE Candidates to support voices from cycling advocacy within council committees and structures (e.g. Strategic Policy Committees, Joint Policing Committees and Road Safety Working Together Groups)
  10. Enforcement of illegal car parking dealt with effectively (by a combination of Council wardens and contractors – plus An Garda Síochána) – and designing out possibilities for offending. 
  11. Imaginative and ongoing promotion of everyday cycling for multiple journey trips (just not commuting) and intermodal journeying (particularly bikes plus public transport)
  12. Auditing and maintaining all walking and cycling and public transport facilities to high standards. Ensure ongoing budgets for maintenance e.g. buying specific maintenance plant/ machines

    Note:
    Our 10 Asks ahead of General Election 2020 can be read here https://cyclist.ie/2020/10/cyclist-ie-10-asks-budget-2021/.

Image credit: Julien Douvier

Bike Week 2024 – Irish Cycling Campaign

Irish Cycling Campaign is delighted to see so many of our Local Groups organising events for Bike Week 2024 in every corner of the country. In this article, we list some of the main events that groups are running – while noting that it is not exhaustive!

You can read about further events on the official Bike Week site here: https://www.transportforireland.ie/getting-around/by-bicycle/bikeweek/

We encourage everyone to support our events – and also to join Irish Cycling Campaign if you are not already a member https://cyclist.ie/join/
Thank you!  

The Wheels of Athenry / Co.Galway 

Athenry CycleFest 2024

Saturday, 11th May, 1 – 4pm

Athenry Town Park

Athenry CycleFest 2024 will be kicking off #BikeWeek in County Galway on Saturday the 11th of May from 1 – 4pm in the Town Park!

Wheel on down to Athenry CycleFest for a *FREE* and jam packed afternoon of Cycling, Community, and Craic in the Town Park.

The afternoon’s grand finale is the ATHENRY PEDAL PARADE at 3pm starting at the Town Park. 

The full programme can be found HERE.

A huge welcome awaits for folk near and far!

For a taster of what to expect check out our promo vid HERE.

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CLONAKILTY BICYCLE FESTIVAL, CO CORK

All info at www.clonakiltybicyclefestival.org

FRIDAY 17TH MAY 2024 7pm Opening night: Lap of the town, blessing of the bicycles & film night opening night at DeBarras Folk Club (upstairs)

SATURDAY 18TH MAY 2024 10am Chakra Dance Cycle – leave at 10am – cycle to Ring to loosen up those Chakra’s through dance – co hosted with Ciara Holland – free, please book, text 085 874 5891 or [email protected]

SATURDAY 18TH MAY 2024  3pm – ‘Kidical Mass’ Cycle meet at Emmet Square – Another addition of our most popular event for kids.  Bring your bike to Emmet Square for an all ages lap around Clonakilty

SATURDAY 18TH MAY 2024  7pm – Sunset Bird Watch Cycle (10km) meet at Emmet Square – cycle from Clonakilty town to the Inchydoney estuary identifying local birds species.  In collaboration with Bird Watch Ireland Free

SUNDAY 19TH MAY 2024  10.30am Stop, Look, Listen cycle – meet at Emmet Square – cycle a lap of the town to the biodiversity garden at Bennetts Field, and listen to 3 pieces of music on the theme of nature and biodiversity.

SUNDAY 19TH MAY 2024   3pm – River cycle in collaboration with Clochán Uisce (our local rivers group) – meet at Emmet Square to explore the biodiversity in our local rivers and check its health including kick sampling and water testing as part of the EU drinkable rivers program. Family friendly.

SUNDAY 19TH MAY 2024  5.30pm ‘Waste not, want not’ Curry Cycle!  a 5 km cycle around Clonakilty to arrive at our secret location for a ‘Waste Not Want Not’ Curry prepared by chef Gillian Hegarty (followed directly by end of fest Bikeoke Party).  BYO tupperware and take home any leftovers. Registration essential 30 max – free dinner with prebooking! Free, please book, text 085 874 5891 or [email protected]

SUNDAY 19TH MAY 2024   7pm End of festival Bikeoke party – O’Donovans Alley Garden (no need to book) – can anyone top Thady’s performance of Tequilla from last year?

Clonakilty Bike Circus

Christmas Tree Yard
at Spiller’s Lane
Bike Week Calendar of Events
May 11 thru May 19, 2024

All Week

Free Bicycle Safety Checks
Come learn about the Bike Circus and what it means to be a member. Have your bike safety checked for free. Meet the Yard Dogz, our friendly crew of volunteers.

The Pushbike’s Companion
Want to be your bike’s best friend? Come learn about free bike maintenance and repair courses available at the Bike Circus. 

Saturday 11/05 @ 11:00 Hrs

Pre-Flight Your Children’s Bikes for Safety
Safety Maintenance.  Introduction to Vee Brakes. Brief instruction, then greasy hands play time for all participants.

Saturday 11/05 @ Noon

Group Cycle  – Family Adventure
We open Bike Week with a family-friendly picnic ramble along Clonakilty Bay, a migratory wildfowl sanctuary.   Suitable for all cyclists.  Seniors are invited to  join us aboard The Silver Bullet, Clon’s free trishaw.

Monday, 13/05 @  Noon
Eldercycle – Keep on Bikin’
Over 60 and want to return to cycling? Our resident octogenarian cyclist presents this program just for you. Explore the options for those who still hear the wild goose call.

Monday, 13/05 @ 14:00 Hrs.
Wind in Your Hair
Assistive Cycling:  Electric and specially constructed  tandems, bikes, & trikes to make cycling available for all. Silver Bullet spins around Clon all day. 

Tuesday, 14/05 @ 14:00 Hrs.
‘Thar Be Dragons!’ Ebikes For the Uninitiated. 
Ebikes have taken the world, the market is awash in choices.  Why are some so dear, others selling as Internet bargains? This is a chance to learn about eBikes free of sales pressure. There will be bikes to examine and discuss. We’ll tell all. 

Dogg Oscar Frame  Building

What is The Bike Circus?

The Bike Circus is voluntary organization, a tool-share devoted to everyday cycling.  We offer free training in bike maintenance & repair and a formal apprenticeship for those who want to dig a little deeper.  We fix bikes. We help people fix their own bikes.  We build custom bikes for special cyclists.  The Circus is open to all and promotes inclusion without regard to age, gender, or physical limitation.  We are entirely voluntary and private, receiving no regular funding from any agency or government.  All our personnel, ‘The Yard Dogz,’  are volunteers.

We are a spin-off of the Clonakilty Bike Festival and sponsored by Clonakilty Blackpudding. They have assisted us since the outset.  We thank them for their contribution.

Come visit us. You’re very welcome.
Keep on Bikin’!

Dublin Cycling Campaign events

Multiple events over Bike Week
Details at https://www.dublincycling.com/cycling/bike-week-2024 

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Cork Cycling Campaign

All info also available on: https://corkcyclingcampaign.com/events/

Saturday May 11th, 10.00 – Coffee by Bike (starting in town, various coffee shops) 

Come with us on a tour of the city’s best independent coffee spots by bike, discover new routes and sample new blends in this easy going social cycle.

Gathering point – Michael Collins

Wednesday May 15th, 13.00 – 14.30 – Douglas Street / Business Event – Bike Douglas Street 

An event for businesses of Cork to discuss making their businesses and the city friendlier to cycling.

We will have bikes on hand for a guided cycle of the area as well as a sampling of treats from local businesses.

Gathering point – Parklet Douglas Street.

Wednesday May 15th, 14.30 – 16.30 – Cork through the Spokes 

In association with Cork Folklore Project.
Come to share your Oral History of Cycling in Cork in the past.
Do you remember the bike delivery boys, do you have a story about cycling down Patrick’s Hill?
We’d love to hear about that and anything else, come join us for a chat.
Location – North Cathedral Visitor Centre

Saturday May 18th, 14.00 – 15.00 – Kids Event (Fitzgerald’s Park) – Super Cycle on the Lee  
Come dressed as your favourite superhero and cycle a safe path on the riverside along with the best super tunes.
Gathering point – Fitzgerald’s Park Cafe

Sunday May 19th – Open for Cycling (Various Start points into City Centre) 
We lead cycles from key points of the city into the city centre which is Open for Cycling on this day.
Gathering points – Various leading to Patrick Street

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DLR Bike Week: 

https://www.dlrcoco.ie/bikeweek2024

All the dates and details are on this link.

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Drogheda Cycling / County Louth

Cycle Sense / Skibbereen, County Cork

Here are details of 2 of our Bike Week events 

Leitrim Cycling Festival 

Leitrim Cycling Festival is a free, family-friendly festival held during Bike Week and will be hosted in Keshcarrigan from May 17-19.

Each year, the festival moves to a different town or village and is organised by a small group of volunteers in collaboration with each local community. 

The festival aims to celebrate cycling, communities and the beautiful county of Leitrim in Ireland’s hidden heartlands. Keshcarrigan is a small village in south Leitrim nestled between the hills of Sheebeg, the Ballinamore canal and the lakes of Keshcarrigan and Lough Scur.

This year’s programme includes many of the annual festival highlights including the community cycle and picnic, the launch lap, music, art workshops and of course the much-loved slow bicycle race. 

In addition, you will find many events unique to Keshcarrigan, such as the free boat tours of Lough Scur thanks to the Shannon Queen, Astrokids play time, a workshop with local author Maria Hoey, a heritage cycle and treasure hunt, and the Kiltubrid Pipe Band leading the launch lap.

This year’s festival is also during National Biodiversity Week, and thanks to funding from the Irish Environmental Network, the programme includes an event celebrating the cultural and social value of the hawthorn tree with the Leitrim Hawthorn Project.

To see the full programme check out www.leitrimcyclingfestival.com 

Kerry Cycling Campaign

Nature Cycle: Tralee to Fenit Greenway

18/05/2024    

11:00 am – 1:00 pm

Come on a nature cycle along the Tralee to Fenit Greenway and meet some of the wild plants and habitats along the way.

Tar linn ar rothaíocht dhúlra ar Bhealach Glas Thrálí – Fhianait, ag buaileadh leis na plandaí ages ghnáthog fhiáin ar an slí.

Meeting Point: Greenway entrance – Opposite Tralee Train Station

Gorey, Co. Wexford. Gorey Pedestrian and Cycling Association & Wexford County Council

A fun morning with bike themed events in Gorey Town Park, including a short Family Slow Roll in Gorey town in association with Gorey Pedestrian and Cycle Association.  Slow bike race; prizes for best dressed bike; face painting ,bike themed prizes. Balance Bike Buddies will also be on hand to teach some basic cycling skills to younger children. 

Time:  11am to 1pm 

Date: Saturday, the 18th of May 

Location: Gorey Town Park and local streets of Gorey, Co. Wexford

Suitability: All.  Competent cyclists only on the Slow Roll as this takes place on the public streets.  Children must be accompanied by an adult at all times

For more information email [email protected] 

BIODIVERSITY BIKE RIDE WITH GOREY PEDESTRIAN AND CYCLING ASSOCIATION

Join biodiversity expert Natasha Ariff and the Gorey Pedestrian and Cycling for a biodiversity bike ride and learn how we can protect nature in Gorey. The route will stop by several biodiversity sites in Gorey town where we will learn what we have around us, and how we can do so much more to protect our environment in Gorey.  Followed by complimentary refreshments at Gorey Town Park

Time:  11:00pm – 1:00pm

Date: Sunday the 19th of May

Location: Meet at the Heritage Orchard (Next to the Fire Station in Gorey)

Suitability: All fitness levels.  Everyone joining must have a roadworthy bicycle, a helmet, hi viz.  Limited spaces 

For more information:  To book your place get your ticket on: biobike.eventbrite.com

https://biodiversityweek.ie/events/biodiversity-bike-ride-gorey

Irish Cycling Campaign at ECF AGM 2024 – Report

Irish Cycling Campaign (formerly Cyclist.ie) has been an active member of the European Cyclists’ Federation for many years – and really first going back to the mid-1990s when Dublin Cycling Campaign was the initial contact point with ECF before our own national body was formed. For the last 15 years (plus), we have attended the ECF AGM, and this year Damien Ó Tuama flew the ICC flag at the gathering. In this article, he shares some reflections on what was a fruitful and enjoyable trip. 

Back in Zagreb
It was great to be back in Zagreb, a city I first visited back in 2008 when on a camper-van adventure with a good friend and with two old single speed foldable bikes on board. Zagreb is a friendly city, and it’s an easy place to move about in on their distinctive blue trams and on foot. It’s also easy enough to bike around the city and I elaborate on this below. I was delighted to be in the Croatian capital again and this time reconnecting with my ECF colleagues, including those I worked with closely during my time on the ECF Board from 2016-2021.

The Formal AGM
The ECF AGM was held in the quite beautiful “Journalist Building” which is close enough to the centre of the city. The building was funded by the Croatian Journalists’ Association, one of the oldest professional associations in Croatia (established in 1910), and it is still owned by it. It’s the meeting point for Croatian journalists and media workers, but also a venue for different cultural, literary, scientific and artistic events. It was a perfect size for our posse of around 60 participants, with a lovely view from the curved balcony as shown here. 

The formal part of the AGM took place over two days – a full day’s business on the Friday and a further half day of debate and discussions on the Saturday morning.

ECF AGM delegates plus ECF staff – Photo kindly provided by ECF

The CEO of ECF is Jill Warren (@JillWarrenECF), and she has been at the helm of the organisation since 2020. Jill gave a great overview of what has been another effective year of advocacy work for ECF. Probably the highlight of the last year came in the last few months when the European Council, Commission and Parliament signed the European Declaration on Cycling, marking the official adoption of the first inter-institutional cycling policy at the European level. Amongst other benefits, this Declaration can be referred to by national organisations all around Europe as it shows the direction that transport policy needs to take over the coming years. Another work area that Jill highlighted were the significant lobbying efforts made to reshape the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive which now sets, for the very first time, European minimum bicycle parking norms for virtually all types of buildings, both residential as well as non-residential – see here. Huge credit is due to all of the staff here, but particularly Fabian Küster who has been working on this topic for well over 5 years.   

Overall, ECF is in good shape, with a wide portfolio of funding sources underpinning its day-to-day functioning and enabling it to employ 20+ super committed and knowledgeable staff members.


Some of Jill’s highlights of ECF’s work in 2023-2024 

Elections for the board took place on Day #2 after the candidates had introduced themselves on Day #1. There was a very healthy interest in the process with a total of 16 candidates applying in February for four available board positions. I was part of a three person Nominations Committee, along with (current board member) Camille Thomé and (former board member) Raluca Fiser, that had the job of encouraging potential candidates to apply, analysing applications, interviewing candidates and producing a short-list of recommended candidates for the election itself – not an easy job with so many good applicants vying to be on the ECF Board! 


Electronic voting underway in the ECF Board Elections

In the end, Henk Swarttouw (@copenhenken) from The Netherlands was re-elected as President of the Board (the only applicant for this position), with Sidsel Burk Hjuler (Denmark) and Graham Waston (UK) both re-elected for a second three year term, and with the final vacant position going to Siliva Casorran from Barcelona. They join the four existing board members Francesco Baroncini (Italy), Camille Thomé (France), Jan Vermeulen (Belgium) and Angela Francke (Germany). All in all, it’s a strong board with a decent gender mix and a reasonably good geographical representation, although it is missing someone from the eastern part of the Continent.


L-R: Tena Šarić Rukavina and Ema Tarabochia Veršić from Sindkat Biciklista

There was plenty of good debates at the AGM, particularly in regard to the mid-term review of the ECF Strategy and in response to the panel discussion on “How to make cycling an election issue?” In that session, ECF moderated a discussion with members on the strategies, tactics and messages needed to make cycling a relevant issue during election season, and how election campaigns focused on cycling can reach political incumbents and candidates from across the political spectrum. It was nicely moderated by Philip Amaral (@AmaralPhilip), ECF’s Director of Policy and Development, who is also ECF’s contact point for the European elections. These discussions will feed into Irish Cycling Campaign’s own plans ahead of the Local and European elections – see https://cyclist.ie/2024/04/asks-for-local-elections-candidates/.  


Philip Amaral, ECF’s Director of Policy and Development

Some conclusions from the Croatian cycle campaigners on how to make cycling an election issue


Jens Peter Hansen (Danish Cyclists’ Federation) spoke on his work of quantifying motor vehicles’ close passing of him on Danish roads. 

Getting About in Zagreb / Cycling Trips
All of the AGM delegates has access to Zagreb’s Nextbike bike sharing scheme for the duration of the AGM and over the weekend, but I also took the tram quite a bit as it was super easy and convenient. Just 53c for a ticket if bought in advance (or 80c if bought from the tram driver). The trams themselves span a mixture of older ones going back to the 1950s (the ones common to much of Eastern and Central European cities – as shown below) to much bigger and slicker brand new ones (shown further below).

Hats off to local ECF Member group and the AGM hosts, Sindikat Biciklista (@cyklofil), for organising a really entertaining and informative city bike ride for all of the ECF participants! We started and finished at the Croatian National Theatre and got a great insight into the city’s history and culture – and its topography!


Shared running of trams and bikes in the centre of Zagreb


ECF on tour in the old town!


Janko and Zvoni from Sindikat Biciclista, the Croatian Cycling Campaign

A sculpture by Ivan Meštrović showing Nikola Tesla, one of the most famous sons of Croatia (or of the Austrian Empire as it was then) 

Sindikat Biciklista also organised a special cycle trip on the Sunday morning, where we explored the southern part of the city including the extensive sports campus in which cars are being systematically removed so as to reduce road dangers and encourage more walking and cycling. 


The Sunday morning cycle crew. Back row, L-R: Stefan (Montenegro), Hugo (Switzerland), Damien (Ireland), Sladjana (Montenegro / Norway), Blazo (Montenegro), Igor (Bosnia & Herzegovina), Dejan (Montenegro), Dragan (Bosnia & Herzegovina); Front row, L-R: Silvia (Spain), Marko (Serbia), Robert (Croatia) – Photo kindly provided by Dragan!


One of Zagreb’s self-service egg vending machines

In terms of the quality of the cycling infrastructure in the city, it’s fair to say that it’s a real mixed bag. There are many cycle tracks positioned directly alongside footpaths on the main avenues, and people on bikes lose priority on a regular basis at side roads. There are also plenty of examples of ridiculously narrow cycle lanes – narrower than the width of one’s shoulders – which are squeezed in by removing space for pedestrians, while the main carriageways remain dominated by often multi-lane fast moving cars (as shown below). That said there are plenty of quieter streets where cycling is the perfect way to get about – particularly in the old town. 


Both parked and fast moving cars dominate much of Zagreb’s public space – with super narrow cycle tracks squeezed in here and there

Social Events
As important for catching up properly with colleagues from other ECF member groups are the social events organised as part of the AGM. We were very impressed to have the official ECF AGM 2024 dinner taking place at Dverce Palace, at the invitation of the City of Zagreb, with a welcome address by Mayor Mr. Tomislav Tomašević (shown below). 

L-R: Jill Warren (ECF CEO), Henk Swarttouw (ECF President), Mr. Tomislav Tomašević (Major of Zagreb), Janko Večerina (President of Sindikat Biciclista, the Croatian Cycling Campaign) and the staff of the Mayor 

The rest of the ECF AGM delegates!

And following the grandeur of the Mayor’s palace, we meandered down a narrow lane and slipped into a slightly hidden and much more informal jazz bar with a fine beer garden out the back for further catch-ups with colleagues.    

In Summary
As always, when meeting up with the ECF gang, it’s a lovely friendly affair. One is reconnecting with friends and colleagues, all of whom are campaigning hard in their own countries – and/or at an European level – to improve conditions for cycling and to make places more liveable. I’m particularly grateful to the hosts from Sindikat Biciklista (pictured below), who ran a brilliantly organised and most enjoyable AGM. They brought us to some fine formal venues, but also some very decent bars for music and chat – it’s so good to have that expert local knowledge guiding us in the host city! Hats off to Janko and his team for a fine job.

Personally, it was also great spending time with cycling campaigners from the Balkans – not only from Croatia, but also from Bosnia & Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia (with their new e-biking organisation) — and getting a sense of how they are campaigning in their cities and towns. My most memorable conversations though were with the cycling advocates from TUBIDEF in Turkey. Of their group, Serafettin is from the city of Antakya, which was pretty much completely flattened in the earthquake of early 2023 – see here – including his entire district and apartment buildings which he showed me in recently captured videos of his area. It was quite unfathomable how obliterated his city was, and the massive death toll experienced there. My heart goes out to him and his people as they embark on a long journey of dealing with so much grief and rebuilding the city.

As always, it was a rich and enjoyable experience attending the ECF AGM and spending time with other campaigners who are properly clued into what is happening in their local and national political contexts, and who enjoy a chat and a beer. The next AGM of ECF will take place in Brussels in 2025 and, all going well, we will have a mini-delegation from Irish Cycling Campaign attending, including some new faces on our side.  

See also:
https://ecf.com/news-and-events/news/ecf-annual-general-meeting-2024-europe%E2%80%99s-cycling-advocates-come-together-zagreb

Our ‘Ban Car Ads’ Initiative Moves Forward

The Irish Cycling Campaign’s initiative to prohibit or reduce fossil fuel advertising has moved forward a significant step with today’s Earth Day promotion by Paul Murphy TD of his Bill.

Deputy Murphy’s Bill was initially published last month. It seeks to prohibit the advertising of any fossil fuels, and any land vehicle or aircraft using fossil fuel. The way our transport system is skewed towards the use of cars, the dominance of our roads by car use, and the huge health detriments of our sedentary lifestyle and chronic car dependence are all worsened by advertising.

To quote Deputy Murphy, ‘Once you start to notice it, it is striking just how much car advertising there is: how many advertisements you see on TV are for cars; how many billboards are for car advertisements; and how much sponsorship of popular TV programmes, such as “The Late Late Show”, is from car manufacturers. There is evidence this has a direct link to the lack of media coverage of climate change, a topic, for example, that “The Late Late Show” has barely covered in all its years of showcasing shiny new cars. Last year in Ireland the number of new fossil-fuelled cars increased by 10% to more than 99,000’.

So some restriction on the ability of the motor industry to spend tens of millions in the Irish market would bring huge benefits to society. Action is long overdue.

The Bill’s already passed the first stage in the Oireachtas and received significant news coverage, such as the following:

  1. Newstalk article gives an overview — https://www.newstalk.com/news/time-for-tobacco-style-ban-on-fossil-fuel-car-advertisements-pbp-1651055 
  2. RTÉ interview about it (17 mins) – https://www.rte.ie/radio/radio1/clips/22366061/ 
  3. Public poll in Journal.ie (Bill wasn’t very popular!): https://www.thejournal.ie/should-there-be-a-ban-on-fossil-fuel-advertising-6320804-Mar2024/ 

Attending the press release at Buswells Hotel today was (centre of photograph) the Campaign’s Board Member Mary Sinnott, who worked to bring the issue to the attention of Deputy Murphy and team, filmmaker and activist Peadar King and Dr. Seán Owens, whose campaigning work focusses on the devastating effects of climate change on public health. Deputy Bríd Smith is on the far left, beside Deputy Murphy.

We understand that Sinn Féin also have a Bill, promoted by Senator Lynn Boylan aimed at restricting fossil fuel lobbying and (as an apolitical advocacy group) the Campaign will be glad to work with any body seeking to improve our transport choices, improve road safety, reduce air and noise pollution, and of course to limit climate change.

Reflecting on the Bill, Mary told the press conference,

‘Irish road transportation contributes 94% of transport-related greenhouse gases.Restricting fossil fuel product advertising will rebalance consumer choice towards sustainable modes of transport. It will reflect our national commitment to reduce our CO2 emissions by 2030, and to phase them out by 2050. Those committments we are already behind on.’

Mary quoted the poem “Begin” by Brendan Kenneally:

Though we live in a world that dreams of ending
that always seems about to give in
something that will not acknowledge conclusion
insists that we forever begin

Biodiversity Week Cycles

National Biodiversity Week 2024 runs over 10 days from Fri 17 to Sunday 26 May. It is organised by the Irish Environmental Network (IEN), with funding provided to them by the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS). 

The week is all about connecting people with nature and communicating the importance of biodiversity and the need to protect it. It’s also about entertainment and socialising though, and Irish Cycling Campaign is busy planning ‘Bikes and Biodiversity’ events in many parts of the country through our local groups. We acknowledge here the kind support of IEN (which we became a member of in late 2023) in enabling us to run these events.    

You can see the full list of events here:

Local Group leading the EventBikes & Biodiversity EventWebsite / Webpage with more info on the event
Clonakilty Bicycle FestivalClonakilty Bicycle Festival hosted River Cycle in collaboration with Clochán Uisce (local rivers group), a cycle to explore the biodiversity in our local riversand check its health including kick sampling and water testing as part of the EU drinkable rivers program, Family friendly. Sunday 19th May at 3pm.https://biodiversityweek.ie/events/feagle-river-cycle-in-collaboration-with-clochan-uisce-and-birdwatch-ireland/
Clonakilty Bicycle FestivalClonakilty Bicycle Festival hosted Bird Watch estuary Sunset cycle cycle from clinical town to the Inchydoney estuary identifying local bird species, run in collaboration with Bird Watch Ireland. Sat 18th May (time TBC – tidal related).https://biodiversityweek.ie/events/bird-watch-estuary-sunset-cycle/
Clonakilty Bicycle FestivalClonakilty Bicycle Festival hosted Stop, Look, Listen Biodiversity cycle. Cycle a lap of the town to the biodiversity garden at Bennetts Field, and listen to three pieces of music on the theme of nature and biodiversity. Sunday 19th May, 10.30am.https://biodiversityweek.ie/events/stop-look-listen-cycle/
Cloughjordan CyclingCloughjordan Cycling hosted `NatureCycles` – a guided looped cycle to natural heritage locations in the wider Cloughjordan area where the guide will inform about each locations nature value. The cycle will include a visit to a small family run organic farm to learn more about their diverse agri-ecosystem. Sunday 19th May.Details to be added to https://biodiversityweek.ie/events-calendar/ soon
Cork Cycling CampaignCork Cycling Campaign hosted ‘Bike-o-diversity Celebrates Biodiversity’ cycle tour of Cork City. Sun 26 May.https://corkcyclingcampaign.com/events/
https://biodiversityweek.ie/events/bike-o-diversity-meets-biodiversity-at-tramore-valley-park/
Dublin Cycling CampaignDublin Cycling Campaign hosted Dublin Community Garden Cycle with a Biodiversity theme. Sat 18 May.https://www.dublincycling.com/events/community-gardens-cycle-0

https://biodiversityweek.ie/events/dublin-cycling-campaign-community-gardens-cycle/
Gorey Pedestrian and Cycling AssociationGorey Pedestrian & Cycling Association hosted Biodiversity Bike Ride. “Instead of Nature walks, come for a Nature cycle (or ride). The cycle route will stop by several biodiversity areas in Gorey. Learn what we have and how we can do so much more to protect the nature in Gorey.https://www.eventbrite.com/e/biodiversity-bike-ride-tickets-876731877647?aff=oddtdtcreator
Kerry Cycling CampaignKerry Cycling Campaign hosted Nature Cycle along the Tralee to Fenit Greenway and meet some of the wild plants and habitats along the way. Tar linn arrothaíocht dhúlra ar Bhealach Glas Thrálí – Fhianait, ag buaileadh leis na plandaí ages ghnáthog fhiáin ar an slí. Led by Niamh Ní Dhúill (Natural Wild Gardens) and Cathy Eastman.https://biodiversityweek.ie/events/nature-cycle-tralee-to-fenit-greenway/
Leitrim Cycling FestivalHosted by Leitrim Cycling Festival with the Leitrim Hawthorn Project. As part of the Leitrim Cycling Festival (this year in Keshcarrigan), the event will celebrate the natural and cultural heritage of the Hawthorn tree through music, dance, storytelling and sharing the folklore and medicinal properties of the tree and discovering its key role in supporting biodiversity. Facilitated by Tara Boath Mooney, artist, singer, facilitator who has helped lead the community heritage project and its research into the Hawthorn traditions throughout Leitrim.https://leitrimcyclingfestival.com/leitrim-hawthorn-project/
Naas Cycling CampaignNaas Cycling Campaign / Naas Biodiversity Group hosted event. Explore nature-friendly projects completed by the Naas Biodiversity Group in recent years. For example, our Pocket Forests, rainwater planters, plus hedgerows that have been newly planted or rejuvenated through hedge laying. Meet like-minded people and learn practical tips to protect nature in your local area! The event is children-friendly (and for people who are not super confident cycling!), as we’ll be cycling slowly and over a relatively short route.

When: Friday 17th May at 7-9pm

Where: Meeting at the Naas Lakes, Naas, Co. Kildare. We will cycle together to K Leisure, stopping along the way to discuss different projects.

No registration necessary, just turn up on the way! If you need a bike or have any questions, contact the Naas Biodiversity Group on [email protected] or 0894147367.
https://biodiversityweek.ie/events/naas-biodiversity-bike-ride/
Sligo Cycling CampaignSligo Cycling Campaign hosted ‘After work Biodiversity Cycle to Strandhill and Culleenamore Sand Dunes’ to study Coastal Biodiversity Picnic with supper included as participants will miss an evening meal at home. Guided by an Ecologist from Woodrow. Thu 23rd May 2024, 5.30pm to 9pm.https://biodiversityweek.ie/events/coastal-biodiversity-cycle-to-strandhill/
WexBUGWexford Bicycle User Group hosted Biodiversity Cycle to Wexford Wildfowl Reserve / Wexford Slobs with a guide from NPWS / Wexford Naturalist Field Club.https://biodiversityweek.ie/events/biodiversity-cycle-to-wexford-wildfowl-reserve/

See https://biodiversityweek.ie/events-calendar/ for the full list of Biodiversity Week events as being collated by Irish Environmental Network.

Oulu by Bike

Adam D’Arcy from Cork Cycling Campaign is just back from Oulu in Finland and he has kindly sent Irish Cycling Campaign a little report on his cycling experiences in, arguably, the leading city in the world for winter cycling. Many thanks Adam!  

This April (2024), I got to spend a week in Oulu, Finland as part of an Erasmus exchange with Oulu University. It is roughly the same size as Cork city in population but feels quite different in character.

The city grew in the 1960s when new industries expanded attracting workers from rural areas. The original street grid pattern was more intensely occupied, but new suburbs emerged with a mix of apartment blocks and single family homes nestled between the pine trees in a sort of park-like landscape.

The default wide paths are shared between walkers and cyclists, but they also have a network of two-way cycle routes (Baana) which provide a way to cycle almost anywhere with minimal interaction with cars. This enables school kids, students, workers or leisure cyclists to soak in some nature as they get around. Cars must yield to cyclists where these Baana cross the roads and, incredibly, the cars do stop!

By the use of underpasses they avoid busy roads, while the islands of the bay are linked by bridges providing nice views of the water framed by trees. 

They style themselves as a leader in Winter Cycling and even in a good bit of snow, there were plenty of cyclists around. Most cyclists have summer tyres, but also winter tyres which have little metal studs and are essential in snow, thus enabling year round cycling. 

With the help of Damien Ó Tuama and our friends in the European Cyclists’ Federation, I got in touch with the local branch of the Finnish Cyclists’ Federation – Oulun Polkupyöräilijät (try saying that after a few beers!) – and their Chairperson, Anni, kindly lent me a bike for the week for my daily commute to the university and other excursions. As it happened, they had a meeting lined up while I was there so I went along and met them for a pint and a chat.

They face similar issues to ourselves, cycle path maintenance, interaction with pedestrians etc., but all in all, they are streets ahead of us when it comes to daily cycling – about 20% of trips are done by bike and they want to do even more. Well worth a visit if you get half a chance.

For more information on Oulu, see:

If you are abroad over the coming months and end up in a place which has a strong cycling culture or in a city/country which is making special efforts to grow cycling – and you fancy penning a few words on your trip – we would love to hear from you! Just drop our National Cycling Coordinator a line here

Dutch Cycling Embassy in Ireland

Irish Cycling Campaign was delighted to be invited to the Dutch Cycling Trade Mission to Ireland networking event last week (on Wed 10 April 2024). 

The “B2B” (Business-to-Business) Marketplace Networking event was held in the offices of the Dublin Chamber of Commence. Dr. Damien Ó Tuama (National Cycling Coordinator with Irish Cycling Campaign and An Taisce), and Siobhán McNamara (from the Dublin Cycling Campaign Local Group of ICC) attended, representing everyday bicycle users and advocates on the ground.  

The aim of the mission was to deepen ties between the two countries in terms of achieving greater levels of sustainability – and building connections and potential collaborations between organisations from both countries. 

In a nicely crafted event format, the Ireland based invitees in the audience introduced themselves and their organisations, and this was followed by rapid-fire one-minute long presentations from each of the 16 Dutch companies on the Dutch Cycling Embassy trade mission. They each gave a brief insight into their expertises in different aspects of cycling policy and design. After the event, the Dutch delegation traveled to Cork where they did a similar networking event, and met the main players in the transport space.

From Irish Cycling Campaign’s perspective, we are very happy to see Dutch engineering, planning and mobility focused companies arriving in Ireland to seek out new business opportunities and to bring their cycling expertise here. With a significant slice of the transport budget now being spent on active travel, we have a great opportunity to draw on some of the best practice ideas in urban design, cycling route design, bicycle parking and the integration of public transport and bikes – and learn from the Dutch. Ultimately, we want to arrive at a situation where everyone in Ireland “has a real choice to cycle and is encouraged to experience the joy, convenience, health and environmental benefits of cycling” as per Irish Cycling Campaign’s vision.  

Presenting as shown in the photos above are (from top to bottom):

  • Sander van de Vecht (bike.box)
  • Angela van der Kloof (Mobycon)
  • Caglar Yuksel (Fietbass) 

Bikes go Free on (some) Buses

In a groundbreaking move last week, Bus Éireann has championed accessibility and sustainable travel by waiving the €10 fee previously required for the onboard inclusion of bicycles, extra luggage, and prams across its urban and regional services. 

This welcome change, effective immediately on all Public Service Obligation (PSO) routes, marks a significant shift away from the previous policy, which often saw the cost of transporting a bicycle eclipsing the price of the journey itself.

While the removal of this fee heralds a more inclusive approach to travel, accommodating the needs of cyclists, families, and heavy packers alike, Bus Éireann has noted that the availability of space remains a determining factor in the acceptance of bicycles, prams, and pushchairs on board. 

It’s important to note, however, that the fee discontinuation does not extend to Expressway services, where standard charges will persist.

Neasa Bheilbigh, Chairperson of the Executive Committee of The Irish Cycling Campaign said “This is a small but positive step in the right direction, providing more sustainable journeys combining bus and bicycle. We will continue to push to abolish fees for carrying bicycles, on all routes and by all bus operators”

The Irish Cycling Campaign regularly meets with officials from the Department of Transport – and with the main transport agencies with a role in developing cycling policies and legislation – so as to advocate for improved outcomes for people with bicycles and this is one of the issues we raised in a recent meeting.  Do please help us to maintain a strong voice and champion all aspects of cycling by making a donation or becoming a member. See https://cyclist.ie/join/.  

Try it

We’re interested to hear your experiences bringing your bicycle on a bus. Post a photo and tag us!

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Ireland’s Climate Action Plan – Keep those cycling goals right up there!

We made an in-depth submission on the Climate Action Plan 2024 today, calling for continued investment in active travel, quicker roll-out of urgently needed protected, connected cycle tracks.


We pointed out that it’s not only our cities that matter; our towns should be focusses of active travel too. Local Authorities each now have to make an Action Plan, and we urged the Department to keep an eye on their quality – our Navan colleagues have found serious flaws in the Meath County Council version. 

And we reminded the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications that joined-up thinking is crucial when building new rail stations, bus stops and transport hubs. More cycle parking! And less car-focussed development and giant SUVs!

Here’s the text of our full submission:

Introduction

The Irish Cycling Campaign (formerly Cyclist.ie, the Irish Cycling Advocacy Network-ICAN), is the federation of cycling advocacy groups, greenway groups and bike festivals on the island of Ireland. We are the Irish member of the European Cyclists’ Federation.  Our vision is for an Ireland with a cycle friendly culture, where everyone has a real choice to cycle and is encouraged to experience the joy, convenience, health and environmental benefits of cycling.

We are delighted to submit our observations on this vital and necessary plan.  Our comments relate generally to specific Chapters 9 (Citizen Engagement) and 15 (Transport) within the Climate Action Plan 2024.

We set out general comments initially, then our responses regarding Chapters 9 and 15 to the questions posed in the Public Consultation Summary Document (red text), finally including some brief comments on Chapters 11 and 19 regarding local authorities.

2 General Comments 

The Irish Cycling Campaign welcomes the updating of the Transport Appraisal Framework (TAF) to take account of Climate Change.

We welcome the statement that interventions under the Sustainable Mobility Policy include supporting a shift to active travel and public transport, including the reallocation of road space; 

We welcome the proposed publication of a Demand Management Strategy

We welcome the proposal to amend legislation to extend the remit of the NTA to the 5 cities but think this does not go far enough,   Page 268 of the CAP states “This will bring a coherent approach consistent with the Climate Action Plan objectives for transport”  But why aim for consistency just in the 5 cities.  Should not residents of Letterkenny, Tralee, Wexford, Drogheda, Navan, Sligo, Castlebar or Portlaoise etc be treated in the same way as residents in the cities?

We are disappointed that the Citizen Engagement chapter omits mention of Environmental NGOs and of PPNs as Stakeholder groups who should be an integral part of the consultation process given their expertise and outreach into communities.  PPNs are mentioned in the context of Climate Conversation workshops only and NGOs in the context of global outreach. Both groups need to be at the table.

3 Specific Comments on the Shift Sector of Chapter 15 

Ref 15.2.4.1 Active Travel Infrastructure and Accessibility Work Programme

Cycle Connects and The National Cycling Network are both welcome initiatives and we recognise this vast work programme will take many years and considerable resources to implement.  However, these initiatives unfortunately still leave many communities unserved by cycle infrastructure including safe routes to school.  SRTS is also mentioned as a priority in this section and we strongly urge the Departments of Transport, Climate Action, and Housing to consider ways in which measures can be taken to enable all communities to avail of safe walking and cycling infrastructure including safe routes to school.  Dedicated walking or cycling infrastructure should be prioritised, where possible, including cycle lanes adjoining roads, cycle paths alongside waterways and re-allocation of road space to cycling and active travel.  Where this is not possible, measures such as traffic calming, reducing speed limits, and developing the Rothar Road concept should be employed.  

We welcome the recognition that the growing number of electric bicycles (E Bikes) means positive changes to the potential for modal shift become viable, but safe routes are the other essential requirement for this to happen.

BusConnects

We welcome the CAP’s support for the BusConnects scheme, particularly the 50% increase in services proposed in Cork. The BusConnects corridors, if constructed as planned, will provide a step-change in the quality and extent of cycle infrastructure, while improving walking facilities significantly (e.g. crossings across all arms of a crossroads, rather than 2 or 3 out of 4). A protected, connected cycle network – as planned by BusConnects for inner Dublin, for instance – has the potential to encourage a rapid and significant growth in cycle traffic: a step-change which could potentially become a tipping point in transforming Ireland’s transport culture. 

Rapid social acceptance of cycling as a normal, daily travel mode is possible, in the same manner as attitudes to plastic bag use and workplace smoking changed rapidly, given rapid roll-out of infrastructure and good leadership. The communications and storytelling approach outlined in the CCCC and Chapter 9 will assist this cultural change. Ongoing social and behavioural research is crucial.

Opposition to BusConnects, often rooted in misinformation and micro-local concerns and sometimes touted by elected representatives, must be addressed and confronted by the NTA and local authorities, now that several of the required planning permissions have been granted and construction is imminent. The strengthened social contract dealt with in Chapter 9 is critical. Loss of street-side parking privileges, for example,, balanced against the common good of on-time bus services, must be put into accurate perspective.

However our reviews of BusConnects corridor plans, in the process of making many submissions during the various consultation phases, show that BusConnects infrastructure plans require improvements:

  • Cycle tracks often too narrow;
  • Junction designs (conflicts between motor vehicles and people on bicycles are made more likely than necessary by the designs/ traffic light phasing);
  • Compromise of designs for public and active travel at many locations, in order to maintain car traffic flows;
  • Failure to account for the real potential health benefits of modal shift, e.g. by using World Health Organisations’ HEAT methodology.

These issues must be addressed in detailed design. Thus, we would submit that the CAP should specifically endorse the standards set out in the National Cycle Design Manual, over and above the mention on p. 272. 

Additionally, CAP should recommend revision of Transport Appraisal Frameworks e.g. National Investment Framework for Transport Infrastructure, to include HEAT or equal methodology: Human health impacts of transport are not only from vibration/ pollution/ access to services (as appraised in current practice) but also – and far more significantly – from access to or preclusion from active travel. Active travel facilitated by good cycle tracks, quality walking environments and linkages with public transport, can engender daily, habitual physical activity. Significant mental and physical benefits are known to result. Conversely projects that facilitate or enable motor dependence often worsen the environment for walking and cycling, thus denying opportunities for exercise. CAP is in a position to leverage health benefits for GHG abatement by addressing how projects are appraised and prioritised.

Ref 15.2.4.2: Major Public Transport Infrastructure Programme:

Public transport projects will ensure quality active travel access and cycle parking for passengers”.  

We suggest that this measure should not just apply to major new projects but to smaller projects such as bus shelters and include retrofitting of existing infrastructure.  Connecting Ireland does not appear to be incorporating cycle parking in its enhanced services.

Rail

Facilities for combining bicycle/wheelchair/pram users and train travel should be improved through lifts at train stations which are long enough for non-standard bicycles and mobility aids, or providing other means for these vehicles to easily change platforms.  Latency in lift capacity, i.e. additional provision to cater for breakdowns, should be built into station design.

Cycle parking at stations must be in compliance with development plan requirements and best practice. Neither Dublin MetroLink nor Dart + West projects, for example, have been designed with adequate cycle parking spaces, compared to local authority standards. Inadequate cargo bike/ disability trike/ non-standard cycle provision is shown on plans.

When procuring train carriages and buses, design of the train carriage or bus should include space which can be used by bicycles/wheelchairs/prams or seated passengers through fold-up/down seats, and straps for securing the bicycle when the seats are folded up.  Embarking or disembarking with a bicycle/ wheelchair/ pram should be facilitated by ensuring there is not a large step up/down to embark/disembark. 

If bicycles are allowed on particular train carriages within a train but not other carriages, this should be very clearly marked on the side of the relevant carriages so cyclists can easily find the carriage to enter. 

Bus and bike

For buses, a rack on the back of the bus, or space in the hold of the bus, can be alternatives.  

Secure parking facilities for bicycles, and availability of public shared bicycle schemes at train stations and bus stops, should be prioritised. A mix of parking provision is necessary, in some cases a simple Sheffield stand may suffice, in others more secure supervised indoor parking or secure bicycle cages/lockers may be necessary

Consistency of access for all wheeled modes to all public transport should be built into the Plan.

For overseas travel via ferry, cyclists should be offered the  same choice of ferry routes and timetable as motorists are offered, and the same or lower prices based on the lower weight involved.

Omission from Shift Proposals: Transport and Sustainable Tourism 

The preceding comments on integrating cycling with public transport were focussed on the needs of people who cycle for transport but could equally be applied to Cycling Tourism.  We are surprised that the only reference to the promotion of Sustainable Tourism in the main CAP24 doc or in the Annex of Actions occurs in the chapter on a Just Transition for the Midlands.  A major focus on the Midlands is entirely justified given the job losses arising from the cessation of exploitation of the bogs for production of electricity and fuel.  Actions such as regenerative tourism, the development of walking and cycling trails and the decarbonisation of the bus fleet are laudable and welcome.  

However, we would like to propose that the Departments of Climate and Transport engage with the Department of Tourism and with Local Authorities and bring the same imaginative thinking on regenerative tourism to bear on sustainable transport projects countrywide. We have already seen a significant expansion in rural bus services and we have seen many walking and cycling trails developed under ORIS, Community Recognition and other funding streams.  What we have not seen is some joined up thinking and effective marketing to encourage tourists to avail of these new services and to access local walking routes.

The Midlands undoubtedly attracts fewer tourists than the Wild Atlantic Way but much of the tourism to the WAW is car and coach intensive and causes congestion on narrow roads.

 We think a section on regenerative tourism on a national footing would be a worthwhile addition to the CAP. The aim should be to highlight and promote routes and itineraries which integrate different modes of transport, walking, cycling, train, bus.  Maximum use should be made of the expanding network of Greenways.

For illustrative purposes we will look at an example from County Clare. At the moment it is difficult for  someone based in Ennis to plan a day out in North Clare to visit some of the sights and get reliable information on bus stop locations and timetables as well as walking routes and cycling options.  For example it is possible to take the bus from Ennis to the start of a walking trail, complete a walk on that trail in one direction and link up with a bus back at the end of this trail but information on the bus services is not integrated, eg 350 bus from Ennis to Fanore, walk to Ballyvaughan,local link bus from Ballyvaughan to Ennistymon and 350 from Ennistymon back to Ennis.

The TFI Live app could be an amazing resource if it was populated with all the Local Link information and if it was marketed effectively. All popular visitor destinations whether Walks, OPW sites, Historic Houses and Castles, Farm Attractions should be requested to display options for access by Sustainable Transport where such is possible.  Bus companies should make their timetables widely available. 

4 Responses to Summary Document Questions 

  • We agree with the statement in the Climate Plan (p247) which follows on the acknowledgement that transport emissions increased in 2021 and 2022 that “Decoupling the direct correlation between transport emissions and wider social and economic activity thus forms the fundamental challenge for the sector”  Decoupling is extra challenging at a time when the population is increasing. 
  • The shortage of student accommodation means that many 3rd Level students must commute long distances daily
  • Construction inflation is a major issue for delivery of transport projects.  
  • If we are to meet our 2030 targets we need people to switch modes now, but many major public transport and active travel projects are still at the early planning stages
  • There is a sense in which some Local Authorities are citing National Policy re Sustainable Transport but not treating the necessary implementation plans with sufficient urgency.  Local Authorities have now completed their own Climate Action Plans and submitted them to the DECC but there appears to be huge variance in the sustainable transport measures and targets (e.g. Meath, as noted above). 
  • With respect to Active Travel, the original announcement in January 2021 about the setting up of Active Travel Teams stated   The new staff will be dedicated to delivering and promoting active travel in Ireland and will work across design, communication/community liaison and construction oversight functions.”   However, outside of the cities, as far as the Irish Cycling Campaign can ascertain, Active Travel Teams comprise almost exclusively engineers with some technicians or administration personnel.  This means that the teams do not have the expertise for the essential work of communicating with communities and “selling” sustainable schemes. It also means schemes may not be optimal in terms of enhancing liveability. Our experience is that Local Authorities are still falling back on online consultations as their main means of community engagement and this is unlikely to result in community buy-in.
  • Inflation proofing: It may not happen in 2024 but it is essential that the next PfG introduces a clause that funding for sustainable and active travel will be capped as a percentage of each year’s land transport budget and not as is currently the case as a % of the budget for the first year the current government takes office, as happened in 2020.  €350 m annually represented exponential progress at the time but unfortunately it was insufficient to absorb shocks like the Pandemic and the War in Ukraine. 
  • Active Travel Teams: We urge the Government to recognise that while engineers are essential for the delivery of AT schemes, engineer only teams lack some of the skills needed for successful roll-out and ‘selling’ of active travel projects.  Areas outside the cities need multi-disciplinary teams  just as much as their city counterparts.  Clearly it would not be feasible to appoint large teams to each county but architects, planners, public liaison officers, could be shared between counties, possibly via the existing local Regional Design Offices.  There are  already many examples of local authority shared services and there are cooperation mechanisms in place via the Regional Assemblies. 
  • Now that the Department should have received copies of their LACAPs from every Local Authority we  suggest it would be a useful exercise to highlight examples of  best practice of SMART measures  and ask the more progressive authorities to share their thinking  via  CPD, podcasts, social media etc.  It would be important to have a variety of exemplars that could be replicated by smaller, as well as larger, better resourced, areas. 
  • Inclusion of the Irish Cycling Campaign in the relevant sections of the Annex of Actions and Citizen engagement as a key stakeholder in supporting the design and delivery of Active Travel infrastructure and a key facilitator of encouraging modal shift to cycling.
  • Irish Cycling Campaign should be included as a key stakeholder in the National Dialogue on Climate Action.and the National Climate Stakeholder Forum.  According to Chapter 9, the Forum comprises Government, Departments, Local Authorities, Public Sector Bodies, national organisations, academics, representative bodies, voluntary organisations, and community groups but the Irish Cycling Campaign has not been invited in its own right. 

Here is why the Irish Cycling Campaign should be added: 

  • Electrification of the private car fleet is invested with doing a lot of the heavy lifting in meeting emissions targets but it is unlikely they will be met by 2030.  
  • Major Public Transport projects, while welcome and necessary, will not be complete by 2030 either.  
  • It is more important than ever that Active Travel is prioritised and the roll-out of infrastructure is accelerated. Funding of projects and of well resourced Active Travel Teams is essential but it would be foolish to discount the experience of people such as the advocate members of the Irish Cycling Campaign, who already engage with local and national officials, and in the everyday cycling to school, college, work, leisure activities that the Climate Plan and the Sustainable Mobility Policy wish to expand.  

The Just Transition section of the Transport Chapter already recognises the need to tweak the balance of avoid/ shift/ improve depending on the capacity of communities to absorb the proposed changes.

Annex of Actions (p67) SHIFT Public Transport Services and Escort to Education Journeys: TR/24/16/TG Connecting Ireland  
In our view this excellent initiative  merits  a further degree of joined up thinking.  Connecting Ireland has already made phenomenal progress in providing bus services in rural areas. It is truly remarkable that communities who had only one daily bus service now have up  to 9 services including early morning and late night services. In other areas hourly bus services have become half hourly again with early and late services. Increased services and reduced fares are game-changers. The plan is only at the half-way stage so progress in rolling out services will continue.  However in our view two further changes should be implemented at the same time as services are being improved.

  • There needs to be a major acceleration in the programme for the provision of bus shelters in both rural and urban areas. From the emissions reduction point of view Connecting Ireland will only be successful if it brings about a modal shift.  Current bus users will appreciate the lower fares and extra services but in terms of achieving the substantial reduction in kilometres driven mandated by the Climate Action Plan, people who currently choose to drive need to be persuaded to take the bus instead.   For example, surveys undertaken by Sligo PPN and Sligo Comhairle na nÓg cite the lack of bus shelters as a major deterrent to choosing to travel by bus.
  • The second related issue is that the take-up of bus services is hugely dependent on their perceived reliability. Two issues related to reliability, i.e. a shortage of drivers and a shortage of buses are being addressed.  However a third issue; the extension of the LA winter gritting programme to cover routes used by local link services requires DECC and DT to liaise with DEHLG, and of course will require a larger winter maintenance budget.  The very nature of Local Link services means they use Local Roads for part of their routes and these roads are currently not included in the winter maintenance programme. Gritted roads means that on days when there is frost the service is often cancelled or curtailed, and this unreliable.  This leaves people unable to get to work or to appointments and is the last thing that should be happening if the policy is to encourage a move from car-dependency to sustainable transport. Gritting of roads used by Local Link services could be regarded as a just transition measure.

Active Travel:  TR/24/15(TF) SMP Pathfinder: Accelerate implementation of Safe Routes to School Programme:
It is welcome that it is planned to identify additional phase 3 schools and bring them into the SRTS Programme but a more basic step also needs to be taken.  The CAP makes reference to whole of government  collaboration and in Chapter19  to the essential role of Local Authorities in achieving our emissions reduction targets.  In this context it is almost incredible to read on https://irishcycle.com/ this morning about a brand-new school which the Department of Education and Mayo County Council has allowed to be built  without provision  being made for active travel access.  https://irishcycle.com/2024/04/04/a-new-school-at-the-edge-of-town-is-opening-on-an-80km-h-road-with-no-footpath-or-crossing/. SRTS involves retrofitting walking and cycling infrastructure at existing schools. The idea that in 2024 one is permitted to build a new school and retrofit active travel at some later date is unacceptable.

Smart, Shared and Integrated Mobility: TR/24/17(TF) Development and publication of Policy Statement on Mobility Hubs 

15.2.4.4 (p277) of the Plan is about mobility hubs.  It states, ” it is intended that the NTA will go to tender in 2024 for the staged commencement of services across the 5 Cities.” and also, “Policy underpinning the approach to shared mobility and mobility hubs on a national basis will be advanced in 2024 with plans to develop a Policy Statement on Mobility Hubs in the third quarter of 2024”.

Proposals for mobility hubs already feature in some draft town transport plans as part of County Development Plans so it is important they are not seen as merely being for cities. Pilot hubs need to be established in urban centres of different population sizes. 

TR/24/18(TF) Rollout of expanded Regional Bike sharing schemes in Limerick, Cork, Waterford and Galway, including enhanced e-bike provision.
This is a welcome development but our understanding is there are problems with the maintenance of the current fixed station bike-share schemes in the regional cities, so merely adding a greater variety of bikes without ensuring the stations and bikes are well maintained will not lead to greater take-up. In some of our cities, one-way systems make bike routes circuitous and unattractive so local authorities need to be encouraged to provide for more contra-flow routes.

5 Chapter 19: Local Authorities Climate Action Plans (LACAPs):  Need for Enhanced Guidance:

5.1 Consistency of Guidance and Assessment
While we welcome the statement that “A monitoring and reporting system for the LACAPs will be developed and best practice examples of LACAPs will be identified and disseminated across the sector through peer-to-peer engagement”,  we are concerned that the statement, “Local authorities can take their own approach to the style and structure of the LACAP but it must be aligned with the key principles set out in the statutory guidelines; ambitious, action-focused, evidence-based, participative and transparent” has led to inconsistencies across the system and less than robust targets for sustainable transport.

The current guidelines for Local Authorities are vaguely-worded and contain optional phrasing such as “should” and “could”. In practice, this allows for unsatisfactory plans by Local Authorities, as the guidelines can be argued to have been followed.  We would like to see more specific guidance so that local authority plans can be objectively assessed as having met or not met the guidelines. 

An example of the outcome of this is that our Meath sub-group, Navan Cycling Initiative, have found the Meath County Council Climate Action Plan to have very few measurable and scheduled targets for the development of active travel, for instance having no annual targets for rapid-build cycle infrastructure, and no specified, measurable, timed actions set out regarding speed limit reductions.

We note that one of the actions listed in the Citizen Engagement chapter of the CAP is “Delivering robust systems to measure climate action at all levels”.  

Measurement of climate action through citizen engagement will only be possible if measurement metrics are in place to start with.  Having read the transport section of several LACAPs we note a distinct absence of robust measure/monitoring systems for active travel in many of them. 

5.2 Clarify Consequences for Local Authorities for failure to meet Targets
While the emissions targets are statutory, the consequences for Local Authorities failing to meet these targets are entirely unclear. The targets are therefore being prioritised alongside every other KPI (e.g. NOAC KPIs). Clarifying consequences if any will allow Local Authorities to prioritise appropriately.

6 Spatial and planning policy (Chapter 11): 

Local authorities are continuing to permit low-density and one-off, car-dependent housing developments on the periphery of towns and cities. Such planning denies access to healthy active travel. 

We would support accessible, medium-density, mixed use neighbourhoods and the 15-minute city concept. We support Chapter 11’s section 2.3 and its reference to the National Planning Framework, particularly National Policy Objective 53, in seeking to minimise car-dependent new housing. We submit that the Climate Action Plan 2024 should include an Action strengthening its support for this Objective and highlighting its importance.

7 Summary/Conclusion

In summary; the Irish Cycling Campaign welcomes many aspects of CAP 24 and is cognisant of the work being undertaken by both the Department of Environment Climate and Communications and the Department of Transport to move us from car dependency and high emissions to a more sustainable means of transport with reduced emissions. We are happy with the Sustainable Mobility Policy, the proposed Demand Management Strategy, the Avoid Shift Improve approach, the expansion of Bike Share schemes, the concept of Mobility Hubs and the proposals for a Citizen Engagement strategy.  We welcome Cycle Connects and the National Cycling Network Plans. 

  • We feel the Plan would be improved by having a more robust integrated strategy for multi-modal transport, by accelerating the roll-out of the bus shelter programme and  by expanding the Local Authority Winter Maintenance Programme to include bus routes served by Local Link. 
  • In recognition of the volume of carbon emissions generated by the tourism sector and mindful of the benefits of sustainable tourism to rural communities, we would like to see a  section on Transport and Tourism added to the Plan
  • We are concerned that the Department’s current strategy for engagement with stakeholders excludes groups such as the Irish Cycling Campaign and does not include environmental NGOs such as An Taisce or PPNs except in a minor way. We would like to see this change.
  • We are also concerned with the variation we have observed in LA CAPs re the measurement and monitoring of sustainable transport targets and feel guidance for LAs needs to be more robust. 
  • We are disappointed no start date is mentioned for the commencement of the proposed Smart and Sustainable Mobility Accelerator Project. This project featured in CAP23 but appears not to be on target. Meanwhile LAs are going ahead with projects without the relevant training. 
  • We strongly urge the creation of Regional Active Travel Teams so as to incorporate the genuine multi-disciplinary skills that are available to larger city teams.

Photo by Mika Baumeister on Unsplash

RSA Review 2024 – Irish Cycling Campaign Submission      

Earlier today (Fri 05 April 2024), Irish Cycling Campaign made a submission in response to the Department of Transport’s consultation on the Review of the Road Safety Authority. You can read a copy of it below.

We wish to thank all of our fabulous volunteers who contributed to this submission. We sincerely hope that it helps to reshape the institutional context which has a huge bearing on the real and perceived safety of those who travel on foot, by bike and indeed by any other mode of transport.


Introduction

We in the Irish Cycling Campaign are a network of knowledgeable and passionate cycling advocates from across urban and rural Ireland. We are the member for Ireland of the European Cyclists’ Federation (https://ecf.com/) and also a member of the Irish Environmental Network (https://ien.ie/).  

We know that cycling is part of the solution to many of society’s problems, from health to the environment to the economy. We have a vision for Ireland where everyone has the opportunity to cycle safely to the shops, to school, to workplaces regardless of their age or ability. Our expertise in research, policy, transport planning, infrastructure design, event management and behaviour change means we are the trusted voice on everyday cycling in Ireland. 

The Department of Transport (‘the Department’) is currently undertaking a review of Ireland’s Road Safety Authority (RSA) via an independent third party, Indecon International Consultants. We set out our views below in the form of responses to the seven online questions posed by the Department on the downloadable public survey.

Executive Summary

We welcome the opportunity to make this submission. In short, we have serious concerns about the performance of the RSA:

  1. Institutional and financial adherence to car dominance
  2. Cultural blindness to the needs of vulnerable road users
  3. Failure to advocate for better road designs and effective enforcement
  4. Silence on the rapid growth of ever larger and more dangerous private motor vehicles (SUVs)

Views on Services Provided by the RSA

Q 1.  The RSA currently provide a range of services and functions, including Driver Testing and Licencing, NCT and CVRT Vehicle Testing, road safety advice, road safety promotional and media campaigns, and road safety education programmes, as well as working with other stakeholders to enhance road safety enforcement and inputs to road safety legislation. What do you believe to be the most important of these services and functions? And are there any other services or functions which the RSA should be undertaking that they are not undertaking currently?

We believe that any authority concerned with road safety in Ireland must carry out all those functions. However, the current dominance by private car use (whether EV or ICE) leads to poorer safety outcomes, compared to a holistic approach to road use (and transport generally) that tackles car dominance and unrestrained driving. 

We see a crying need to shift Ireland’s road use and culture to one that is both safe and healthy, and one that prioritises vulnerable road users (as required by the Department’s own guidance and investment frameworks). Thus the education, promotional and legislative functions must take priority. We believe any effective road safety authority will also have an active role in enforcement of traffic legislation, and in advocacy for better roads, cycleways and walkways.

Implementing road safety measures can be unpopular and is often faced with local and political opposition, especially when it involves prioritising road users who are not driving. It should be a core function of the Road Safety Authority (RSA) to dispel misinformation and clearly educate the public in relation to the importance and benefits of reduced speed limits and the infrastructure that improves road safety.

Data:

High quality research and data is needed to lead road safety interventions. The RSA should be bringing together multidisciplinary research teams in universities to carry out comprehensive research and data analysis. Such teams would include behavioural scientists, experts in public health and epidemiology, statisticians and engineers. 

The absence of any road traffic collision data made publicly available for researchers and public engagement, is a major deficiency in one of the core roles of the RSA.

By contrast, such data is not only available in the UK in machine-readable format amenable for analysis, but is also collated and presented for better public information with dashboards and interactive maps. See for example the following: 

Road accidents and safety statistics – GOV.UK

THINK Map

Reported road casualty statistics in Great Britain: interactive dashboard, from 2018

Arguments about GDPR preventing the release of these data in Ireland do not appear to hold much water, since other European jurisdictions are subject to the same regulations.

We note that a road traffic collision map was previously available on the RSA website, covering collisions until 2016. Although limited in its function, it had a role in road safety audits and could be used for simple research, public information and advocacy purposes. This map was removed in late 2020, and on November 30th 2020, the following statement appeared on the RSA’s website:

“Access to road safety data”

We are in the process of reviewing our road traffic collision (RTC) data sharing policies and procedures. Record-level RTC data can’t be shared until this review is complete.”

(Source here)

After more than 3 years, there appears to have been no visible progress on this issue. This is an obvious concern for all stakeholders. The impression given (whether true or not) is that this is not a priority for the RSA, or that there is something to conceal in these data. We would strongly argue that the RSA follows the example from other states in making the data available and useable.


Q 2.  Do you have any other views on the focus and balance of the Road Safety Authority’s functions, between the driver and vehicles testing and licensing services it delivers to the public, on the one hand, and the road safety policy, promotion, education, and research functions it undertakes, on the other? (See: Role of the RSA)

Decoupling of Services:

We propose a re-evaluation of the RSA’s structure to potentially decouple those two roles. Whether intentional or not, the RSA’s approach to road safety is extremely motor-centric. We expand on this below.

Culture and norms around driving instruction and testing

Respect for people cycling and understanding of cyclist behaviour needs to be prioritised in the driver training curriculum. We are concerned that some Driving Instructors have difficulty observing rules that are there to protect people walking and cycling, such as parking in cycle lanes and footpaths, even when engaged in training novice drivers.

There seems to be no understanding, for example, of the role played by bike-boxes with their advanced stop-lines among the ADIs. Drivers regularly invade these safety features, so it is clear that their importance is not covered by instructors or testers.

The test must be reformed so that there is a vulnerable road user category added with mandatory questions posed in the on-line assessment; in addition, we would urge that a mandatory requirement be introduced into the training and testing of professional drivers that involves safe interaction with bike users, where the novice or a driver undergoing annual CPC assessment must ride a bicycle in traffic in an urban area to have experiential awareness of extreme vulnerability.

The medical fitness to drive assessment requires reform 

GPs need to carry out a thorough investigation beyond focusing on blood pressure and eyesight. The exam should include checking peripheral vision or ability to rotate the head in a horizontal plane. This latter function is of critical importance in keeping bike users safe on our roads – drivers are failing to turn their heads in order to look properly so it is our view that many may not actually do this due to age related cervical vertebra mobility issues.

Taxi drivers must be subject to mandatory CPC 

The exclusion of taxi drivers from mandatory CPC assessment is unacceptable. They drive as a profession and therefore must be treated as a professional driver. Sharing bus lanes with bike users carries additional responsibility and awareness. 


Views on the approach to funding of the RSA

Q 3.  The RSA’s functions and operations are mostly self-funded, from the fees it charges for the provision of services, including driver licensing and testing, and passenger and commercial vehicle roadworthiness testing services (the NCT and Commercial Vehicle Roadworthiness Testing), with little direct Exchequer/public funding received. What are your views on this self-funding model rather than an exchequer funded model or a mixed funding model?

The Irish Cycling Campaign fundamentally opposes the current self-funding model of the RSA, which relies heavily on the growth of private car ownership and use. This model creates a conflict of interest, as the RSA’s financial well-being is directly tied to the proliferation of vehicles and increased vehicle-kilometres travelled (VKT) on our roads. We strongly advocate for an exchequer-funded model to ensure the RSA’s independence and ability to take necessary actions to enhance road safety for all users.

It is deeply inappropriate for the RSA to use motor industry sponsors in road safety campaigns.


Views on the future of the RSA

Q 4.  Do you have any views on the future role of the Road Safety Authority?

We have set out our views on future funding models, and on the cultural norms of the Authority. We would submit that there are other changes that would potentially be useful and effective.

Different indicators of success

The current mission of the RSA is “to save lives and prevent injuries by reducing the number and severity of collisions on the road.”

The statistics on death and injury should not be the only indicator of how safe our roads are. Another important key performance indicator which should be applied is the number of people walking and cycling on our roads. The number of children walking and cycling to school has plummeted in the past 30 years as the number of car journeys has soared. Parents no longer feel safe letting their children commute by bike or even playing outside in many places.

Counting not just victims by mode of transport but the perpetrators of road violence: 

Since the primary hazardous exposure on roads and streets in Ireland is driving, reducing the total number of kilometres driven nationally by enabling more walking, cycling or public transport journeys will itself make roads safer.  

As an example of the dominance of RSA’s culture by car use, a simple search of one particular social media channel shows the @RSAIreland account only replying to queries and comments regarding driver licensing:
https://twitter.com/search?q=(from%3ARSAIreland)%20filter%3Areplies%20-(to%3Arsaireland)&src=typed_query&f=top 

This has the effect of signalling to the public that the RSA only engages or values input from such “paying users” of its services.

Future Board Make-up / Expertise

In the make-up of the RSA board, we see a need for much wider ranges of expertise than are currently represented.

Such expertise might include, for example, vulnerable road user requirements, public health, health effects of sedentary lifestyles, of climate change, or of air/ noise pollution, and hazard and risk assessment in road use. There also appears to be an absence of non-drivers on the board. It is essential that road safety is approached representing the experience of people who do not use a car.

We are unaware of specialist sub-committees of the board, who may have expertise in the various relevant fields (e.g. public health, air pollution, social change). We would urge consideration of the establishment of such sub-committees, which might provide useful input to Board decision-making.



Q 5.  Do you think there are any functions currently undertaken by the RSA that would be better delivered by another body/agency or any functions completed by others that would be better undertaken by the RSA?

Road Safety Commissioner 

As outlined in Q.2 above, the two main functions of the RSA conflict with each other, and there is a strong argument for separating them. The appointment of a suitably empowered and resourced Road Safety Commissioner, working either in parallel or as an overarching authority above the RSA, should be considered. Such a Commissioner would take a broader view of road safety, particularly drawing out the implications of the existing Road Safety Strategy Safe System Priority Area Six, which 

‘…involves promoting these safer modes, such as public bus and train, and providing safer environments for healthier modes, such as walking and cycling.’

Strong advocacy for reduction in car use across society is the ultimate outcome of this Priority Area. Switching travel mode from private car to public and active travel is the ultimate road safety tactic, and should be a central task of any authority concerned with road safety. 


Engagement with the RSA

Q6.  Please indicate any involvement you may have with the work of the organisation and your views on their road safety information campaigns, education work or other services.

The Irish Cycling Campaign meets regularly with RSA officials to advocate for safer cycling and measures to control poor driver behaviour. Under its former name, Cyclist.ie, and under sub-groups such as Dublin Cycling Campaign, the organisation has engaged with RSA since its inception.

Hierarchy of Controls

The Vision Zero approach refers to a hierarchy of controls. The Authority have noted in their own document “Guidelines for Improving Road Safety Around Your School” (2021), that personal protective equipment (hi-vis) is the last level of control (p15, Fig 3). 

The RSA should allocate funding to all levels in the hierarchy, with proportionally more to earlier levels – i.e. Elimination, Substitution. This is not to say that no funds should be allocated for hi-vis, but that funds for hi-vis should be lower than all other measures. Currently huge emphasis is placed on the wearing of hi-vis clothing. The emphasis on hi-vis has also meant that the message that it is a legal requirement to have bike lights in hours of darkness has been lost, with many people now cycling with hi-vis vests, but without lights.

Road Safety and Children

We urge the organisation to shift its focus away from victim-blaming campaigns centred on the wearing of high-visibility clothing. Is it an appropriate use of resources to be distributing 40,000 hi-vis vests to pre-school and school children annually, while there is little intervention to deal with driver behaviour around schools, sports grounds and playgrounds? It is an erroneous message to give children the impression that hi-vis will protect them. The responsibility for road safety lies with adults driving ever large motor vehicles recklessly and flouting road traffic laws – and not with small children.

Children lack the capacity to be responsible for road safety and must absolutely not be held accountable or held to blame. Children have the right to play, they have the right to be safe outside. Our car culture has negated this right. Driving is a privilege and it is viewed in Irish society as an entitlement. Driving has removed safe places for children to play outside. 

The RSA education programme to primary school students is actively disempowering in that it creates a sense of danger around walking and cycling outdoors. It perpetuates the removal of this freedom. The driver is 100% responsible for a child’s safety. These RSA primary school campaigns are public health campaigns around a group of people who do not drive. In short, the RSA is failing children.

Much of the “Guidelines for Improving Road Safety Around Your School” document is commendable, as it follows the Hierarchy of Controls, but it places the onus on already overburdened school management to create and implement a road safety plan. 

Most schools do not have the capacity to implement and sustain such a plan and certainly do not have the power or authority to enforce the main elements that would actually have an impact on road safety around schools. 

We need to see a move away from spending on PPE and hi-vis for small children and, instead, see a reprioritisation of the education message in primary schools from children to parents and other drivers.

We would recommend education nights by RSA educators and partners (AGS, etc) delivered to parents facilitated by school management and parents associations. 

Additionally the RSA need to measure modal shift to walking, wheeling and cycling as one of their metrics to measure a successful safe school environment. 

30kph Campaign

While we commend the RSA for its recent positive 30kph speed limit campaign (along with the campaign to urge drivers to allow sufficient space when overtaking people on bicycles), the Authority has failed to persuade An Garda Síochána to enforce 30kph limits. Furthermore, it is vital that traffic calming infrastructure is rolled-out quickly to ensure average traffic speeds are compliant with the posted speed limit. This involves engaging proactively with each of our 31 Local Authorities. 

Where traffic calming is ineffective or absent, there must be active enforcement. Without enforcement, people do not observe these limits as outlined in the RSA’s own Free Speed Survey 2018, which show that 98% of drivers speeding on urban national roads with 30kph limits, and 70% of drivers speeding in residential 30kph streets – (Appendix I, page 11, of FREE SPEED STUDY Survey Report 2018 | RSA

We also note that the Free Speed Survey in 2021 does not contain data on 30kph zones – Free Speed Survey 2021 | RSA.

It is critical that the RSA continue to gather data on compliance in 30kph areas, call for enforcement in 30kph zones, and advocate the use of static speed cameras where AGS or Go Safe vans cannot provide enforcement.

A 2022 AECOM/ TII report pointed out the higher GHG emissions from ICE cars travelling at less than their optimally efficient speeds of 50 – 90 kpm. But it is important that, in urban and built-up areas, road safety is prioritised over minor possible savings in fuel efficiency. We would support the report’s recommendation for there to be a focus on the reduction of congestion in urban areas, and we maintain that this is best achieved through the allocation of road space to public transport and active travel. This would also improve road safety, if accompanied by measures to improve pedestrian and cycling infrastructure. 

The apparent absence of the RSA in policy discussions about speed limits on the national road network means that economic and GHG mitigation considerations have, in some cases, trumped the most obvious road safety benefits of reducing traffic speeds – and we are thinking here in particular of cases where schools are located right next to N-roads.

Call for effective and widespread enforcement in regard to conditions for people on foot / on bike

There needs to be an education and enforcement campaign with regard to motor vehicles parking on footpaths and cycle-lanes / cycle-tracks. This behaviour has become habitual, especially in residential areas. It creates hazards for vulnerable road users, especially those walking and cycling with children, elderly people and those with vision or mobility impairments.

Schools around the country have tried to educate and inform parents around illegal parking but to no avail. Safe Routes to school is progressing far too slowly to have the required impact on driver behaviour. In the interim, we need enforcement and RSA has not effectively advocated or demanded it.

Supporting implementation of road safety interventions: Advocate for infrastructure:

For many years the RSA have shown their support for investment in motorways and road upgrades to improve road safety outcomes. The RSA’s voice has been and is generally completely absent in educating the public on the positive road safety impacts arising from the reallocation of road space to modes other than private motor vehicles. This would include traffic calming measures such as junction redesign, road narrowing, and infrastructure to create a safe environment for people walking and cycling, segregated cycle paths, continuous raised footpaths across junctions and pedestrian and zebra crossings.

Providing public transport alternatives to driving also reduces the risk of people opting to drink/drug drive.

False equivalence 

The RSA must improve the language they use around people walking and cycling. The “Be Safe, Be seen” messaging is jarring, especially when so many collisions are due to drivers’ failing to observe. People cycling have a legal requirement to have front and rear lights in hours of darkness. People are clearly visible in daylight hours but they cannot make themselves seen by drivers who are distracted or failing to observe.

People cycling do not pose the same risk as people driving cars. The weight and speed of a motor vehicle means the driver bears far more responsibility when sharing the road with others. 

Sports Utility Vehicles / SUVs

The striking difference in the mass, momentum and kinetic energy of motor vehicles versus people on (10-20kg) bicycles, is accentuated further by the disturbing growth of ever larger Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs) on our roads and streets. According to a recently published research paper: 

New cars in Europe are getting 1 cm wider every two years, on average. That’s according to research by Transport & Environment (T&E) which says the trend will continue due to the rising sales of SUVs – unless lawmakers take action. Around half of new cars sold are already too wide for the minimum on-street parking space in many countries. https://www.transportenvironment.org/discover/cars-are-getting-1-cm-wider-every-two-years-research/ 

The RSA has been silent on the frightening phenomenon whereby almost two out of every three cars sold in Ireland are of SUV body types (https://www.ft.com/content/fba7a808-e03e-40c6-9795-38c05abc844a). The trend towards wider vehicles is reducing the road space available for other vehicles and people on bikes (as shown in the image below), while parked cars are further encroaching on footpaths. The wider designs have also enabled the height of vehicles to be further raised, despite crash data showing that a 10 cm increase in the height of vehicle fronts carries a 30% higher risk of fatalities in collisions with pedestrians and cyclists. 

Figure from the Transport and Environment report, link above. 

From an emissions perspective, Prof Brian Caulfield, regarded as one of the leading authorities in transport emissions in Ireland, and someone who has conducted extensive research on decarbonising transport, said SUVs need phasing out (https://www.irishexaminer.com/news/spotlight/arid-41132380.html) – but from a road danger perspective, SUVs are contributing to a more hostile and hazardous road and street environment for everyone else in their vicinity. 

The RSA, or a replacement road safety organisation, needs to engage with the latest research on this topic, step up and advocate strongly on this topic.   



Other Comments

Q7.  Finally, please provide any other comments which you feel may be of relevance to this review of the RSA.

In summary, we need an expedited, national motor traffic reduction plan and a paradigm shift in how we think about road danger. We need to stop diverting ourselves from the real issue – which is the physical presence, destructive and violent potential of ever larger forms of private individualised mobility.

We again thank the Department and Indecon for their attention to our submission.



Formerly Cyclist.ie