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launch of the vision for cycling in rural ireland

Thursday 30 July 2020

A Vision for Cycling in Rural Ireland
Launched by Cyclist.ie’s Rural Cycling Collective

During the lock-down period of restricted travel, one widely remarked phenomenon was the large increase countrywide in the numbers of people of all ages out walking and cycling. 

A desire to retain that peace and freedom, together with the promise by the new coalition government of an annual €360 million spend on walking and cycling infrastructure has led to the formation of a new Rural Cycling Collective. Comprising an array of groups and individuals under the umbrella of the wider national Cyclist.ie advocacy network, the group is focused on making rural communities (towns, villages, and rural roads) cycle-friendly for all ages and abilities. It aims to re-balance the debate on active travel so that everyday journeys by bike across rural Ireland are enabled and supported.


Launching the manifesto, Joan Swift, speaking on behalf of Sligo Cycling Campaign – a member group of Cyclist.ie – said 

Today, we launch our vision document which aims to promote and celebrate everyday cycling in towns, villages and their surrounding areas.  We are launching the Rural Cycling Collective to highlight the needs of areas outside of the major cities. We are campaigning for a fair distribution of transport funding to regional parts of the country to make cycling for all ages and abilities a reality.   Our 8 identified priorities have the potential to completely transform our communities.


The collective is calling on Local and National Government to: 

  1. Create an environment in our towns, villages, and rural roads where cyclists are expected and respected.
  2. Create and map useful, connected cycle routes throughout Local Authority areas.
  3. Implement best practice design so that routes are safe and comfortable for all ages and abilities.
  4. Prioritise safe cycle routes to schools and car-free zones at school gates.
  5. Lower Speed Limits to make our roads and streets safer and more accessible for everyone, and to reduce casualties.
  6. Ensure clear and timely access to funding by improving capacity at all levels of local and national government.
  7. Collaborate with all stakeholders – including cycling and community groups – at all stages of planning and design.
  8. Provide cycle training for all ages especially children

Taken together, these measures would transform active travel throughout Ireland. The co-benefits would include improvements to health, safety, congestion, air-quality, noise levels, and the public realm. More cycling will also help us to meet our climate change obligations. Speaking ahead of the launch, Anluan Dunne from Kerry Cycling Campaign said:

We can be a voice for areas of Ireland that have not yet realised the potential of cycling for everyday activities – cycling to school for children, to work, to the post office for your pension, to shops to buy a litre of milk – or to cycle around to your neighbours for a catch-up. We need to change how we develop our towns, villages and rural roads and we need our collective voice to be heard 

At a recent family fun cycle in Clonakilty as part of the multi-location launch of the Vision for Cycling in Rural Ireland, there was an overwhelming feeling that both children and adults love exploring their local neighbourhoods and areas on their bicycles, and that cycling needs to become an everyday part of life in Ireland again. 

Jo Sachs-Eldridge, from Leitrim Cycling Festival, who led the creation of the vision, invites everyone – people who cycle, people who don’t cycle, want-to-be cyclists, mums, dads, planners, councillors, Ministers and An Taoiseach – to get involved in shaping this vision and helping to make it a reality. 

To find out more, add your support, share your feedback go to https://cyclist.ie/ruralvision/




The Rural Cycling Collective plans to foster collaboration amongst cycling groups across Ireland and to jointly lobby local authorities and public representatives for the changes which will entice more people to choose the bicycle for everyday activities. It will also work towards a cycle-friendly Ireland by collaborating with all stakeholders, organising regular events, fun-cycles and campaign actions.


Cyclist.ie – the Irish Cycling Advocacy Network is the umbrella body of cycle campaigning and advocacy groups in Ireland – https://cyclist.ie/. It is the member for Ireland of the European Cyclists’ Federation – https://ecf.com/

Further information on Cyclist.ie’s Rural Cycling Collective is available here: https://cyclist.ie/2020/07/cyclist-ies-rural-collective/

Our vision can be found here:

You might also like to check out the blog of the Leitrim Cycling Festival and their article on The Rural Cycling Collective and why its worth shouting about it!


Joan Swift, Sligo Cycling Campaign, a member group of Cyclist.ie
Phone: 087-9622234
Email: [email protected]

Anluan Dunne, Kerry Cycling Campaign, a member group of Cyclist.ie
Phone: 085-703-6888
Email:  [email protected]

Dr. Damien Ó Tuama, National Cycling Coordinator, Cyclist.ie and An Taisce
Phone: 087-2840799
Email: [email protected] 


High-Resolution photos to use in Media from one of the launch event held in Clonakilty, Co Cork (event hosted by the Clonakilty Bicycle Festival)

1 – Mum & Daughter ‘ A vision for cycling is a vision for the future’ credit Anna Groniecka https://drive.google.com/file/d/1yeyjkV_YBBa42x_uhZgjLdkGlTqoWXN5/view?usp=sharing

2- Father & Son – safe routes to school – credit –  Anna Groniecka https://drive.google.com/file/d/1Aj6kp8Do6x-pXU-HRyTI9NizS7m-uSfx/view?usp=sharing

3 – Ari Grounds – I want to cycle more – credit Anna Groniecka https://drive.google.com/file/d/1HpJXbFA_qDHl6XEr3Jx1iZ_Ox9r4_2XF/view?usp=sharing

4- Young girl – lower speeds credit Anna Groniecka https://drive.google.com/file/d/1BOB2md5o6OMVIPSO4q__MgxxPQ3vMkEr/view?usp=sharing

5 – Street scene in Clonakilty – no credit needed https://drive.google.com/file/d/1hkUqJzXd7VUgQeNc4uHx0ixCbMPlpmQw/view?usp=sharing

Please include credit where included in the .jpeg name.

Sligo Cycling Campaign Family Cycle marking the launch of the Rural Cycling Collective


During the lockdown period of restricted movement, it was exciting so see so many families out walking and cycling on strangely quiet roads. Bikes sold like hot-cakes and shops ran out of supplies. Now people of all ages are keen to hold on to their newly experienced sense of autonomy and freedom.

To tie in with the nationwide Launch of Cyclist.ie’s Rural Cycling Collective Vision Statement, Sligo Cycling Campaign held a family fun cycling event recently in Cleveragh and Doorly Parks. The event was supported by Councillor Donal Gilroy (FF), Chair of the Council’s Environment and Infrastructure Committee, and by Councillor Marie Casserly (Independent), long-time supporter of cycling and of Sligo Cycling Campaign. Before the cycle began, Sligo Cycling Campaign’s Secretary and PRO, Gemma Woods (a qualified Cycle Right training instructor) did a short training and bike-check session with the young cyclists.

Afterwards, the peloton set off through the park and along Doorly Park to finish on the grounds of County Hall, Riverside. Mayor of Sligo Municipal District, Councillor Rosaleen O’Grady was there to welcome the party. The children displayed the posters and letters they had done showing why they loved cycling and how they would like to be able to cycle more places more often.

Chairperson of Sligo Cycling Campaign, Joan Swift, thanked the Mayor, Councillors and especially the participants. “It’s wonderful to have safe amenities such as Cleveragh Park and Doorly Park for cycling, but these children want to be able to cycle to school, to the library to their Granny’s “said Swift. “We are campaigning for a fair distribution of transport funding to regional parts of the country to make cycling for all ages and abilities a reality”.

According to the rural cycle collective the co-benefits of more people cycling more often include improvements to health, safety, congestion, air-quality, noise levels, and the public realm.  More cycling will also help us to meet our climate change obligations.

Photo above kindly provided by Edel Moran.

For more information on Sligo Cycling Campaign, visit their Facebook page

Greenways Coming to a Location Near You!

Minister Announces Start-Up Grants for Greenways Nationwide

Minister Eamon Ryan, our new Minister for Transport and Climate Action, recently announced a total of 26 grants of varying sizes, totalling €4.5mill for proposed greenway projects right around the country. A total of 20 County Councils, along with Waterways Ireland, have received funding varying from initial seed funding to explore a greenway idea, to funding to enable final design and consultations to take place. It is a welcome initiative that has made use of available funds from the Carbon Tax Fund. 

We understand that there were over 40 applications for this round of funding, and the wide geographical spread of the successful applicants bodes well for the range of potential future projects, if they are fully followed through. We are pleased that a number of the proposals in different counties appear to link up with other initiatives in adjoining counties, holding out hope for linked cycle and walking routes and networks in a number of regions. Additionally, a number of counties have been successful with multiple applications. The range of grants runs from a low of €45,000 to Donegal for a short 8km project from Muff to Quigley’s Point, to a high of €750,000 to Meath County Council for the proposed greenway from Drogheda to Navan.

L to R: Damien Ó Tuama, Mairéad Forsythe and Claudine Chen (from Cyclist.ie , Love 30 and Dublin Cycling Campaign respectively) on the Waterford Greenway.

For all local authorities involved we in Cyclist.ie will be closely monitoring the spending of these grants, hopefully within an agreed timescale, which at this point in time is unclear.  We do not wish to see a return to the false promises made in the past when various proposed schemes were unable to be advanced, despite commitments from the various local authorities concerned.

Overall this is a good news story for cycling development and recreational / tourism cycling in particular. It is now up to the local Councils to ensure these monies are well spent, and to see the projects advance. Cyclist.ie local groups will be keeping a close watch on the different projects, and we hope to keep our members and the general public up to date with what happens on the different schemes.

If you are particularly interested in the development of greenways in Ireland, and want to support Cyclist.ie’s work in this space, then Join Cyclist.ie or Contact us if you have any queries. 

Coming soon – Get To School On Your Own Fuel

National Cycle / Walk to School practice runs 15 – 29 August 2020

Cycling campaign groups from all over Ireland — members of Cyclist.ie, the Irish Cycling Advocacy Network — today issued a call to parents, teachers, schools, sports clubs, local authorities and other groups and individuals to support a National Cycle / Walk / Scoot to School promotion to help families familiarise themselves with their school routes. It will run from Saturday 15th to 29nd August.

All through summer 2020 during the Covid-19 pandemic, children have been out cycling in their local neighbourhoods, going to parks, meeting friends, and enjoying the freedom and fresh air. With the return to classrooms in September, cycling and walking groups around the country are highlighting the opportunities for more children and students to cycle, walk, scoot or skate safely to school. This aligns with guidance from the Department of Education & Skills in which they will be supporting the National Transport Authority “in promoting various alternative means for children to get to school in a safe way, including walking and cycling and more generally in reducing the impact on the public transport system of school reopening” [1].  

Key to getting more children to get back to school ‘on their own fuel’ is the familiarisation of routes from home to school. Cycle campaign groups around the country will be running a range of local events to practise school runs over the coming fortnight, and can supply written guidelines for any interested groups that want to organise events. Working together with experienced cyclists, each family can find the routes safest and most convenient for them. School-children of all ages, primary and secondary, can participate. Ideally they will link with other families, with teachers, parent associations, and with local organisations to test and plan the safest routes from home to school for cycling and walking.

Promotions will also take place in many locations, with opportunities to get bicycles checked by qualified mechanics, as well as taking part in a national scavenger hunt competition (teams can register at www.cyclist.ie/school). Practice runs can be held on any days that suit the participants between 15th and 29nd August. To date, events have been scheduled for Clonakilty, Tralee, Limerick, Galway, Kilkenny, Bandon, Sligo, Wexford and Dublin. 

Information on route planning, how to maintain your bike, guidance on locking your bike correctly and details on the Scavenger Hunt competition will be provided on the day by each local event organiser. 

Photo Anna Groniecka Photography

Speaking on behalf of the national cycling campaign Cyclist.ie, Dr. Damien Ó Tuama said:

“there is no better time for children and parents to trial new, healthier, active travel ways to get to school. We have all long suffered the traffic jams, polluted air and general chaos of the school run by car. We will help people check their bikes over, plan a fun and safe route to school and demonstrate how to lock your bike correctly”.

“During the pandemic, young people have really enjoyed getting back on their bikes and these school practice runs will give them and their parents the confidence and impetus to use cycling and walking as the new normal way, the most fun and healthy way, to get to school happy and ready to learn”, said Ó Tuama.

Allison Roberts, a spokesperson for the Clonakilty Bicycle Festival, said

“Following on from the government’s urging of people to choose walking and cycling over other modes of transport, we want to help people make the first step. There has never been a better time for Local Authorities to accelerate the introduction of new measures to make ‘active travel’ as easy and as safe as possible. We are in a changed world, and we need to see changes on our roads and streets to make cycling safer all day, everyday for all ages and abilities.”

The network of campaign groups called on schools to provide space for secure bicycle parking. They will be contacting all local authorities and the National Transport Authority with a request to support and fund this initiative where possible. 

As set out in the Vision for Cycling in Ireland (http://cyclist.ie/ruralvision/), cycling groups want to see all agencies and organisations support the installation of safer, segregated cycle routes, remove barriers to cycling and walking through parks and housing estates, and develop direct routes away from motorised traffic. The groups will also be contacting all local authorities to ask that they implement as a matter of urgency 30 km/h speed limits in all urban areas especially around schools.

Photos kindly provided by:
– Galway Cycle Bus (top image)
Anna Groniecka Photography (image in the middle)


[1] See p19 of “Planning for reopening schools in line with the Roadmap for reopening society and business” published by the Department of Education and Skills –  https://www.education.ie/en/covid-19/planning-for-reopening-schools.pdf 

[2] A Vision for Cycling in Rural Ireland. https://cyclist.ie/ruralvision/

[3] We can provide high quality photos to go with any articles being produced if/as required. 

[4] Cyclist.ie’s Get to School on your own Fuel webpage – http://cyclist.ie/school/

Cycling Ireland Launches its New Strategy

Cycling Ireland (CI), the national governing body for sports cycling in Ireland, has just launched its new strategy for the upcoming four years to 2024. It is a concise and well presented high level overview of what they plan to do, and sets tough targets to meet in all sectors that it operates in. It is a document well worth checking out for anyone interested in the development of cycling in Ireland, and we in Cyclist.ie commend CI on its targets and aspirations.

It is divided into three main pillars: Participation, Performance, and Enabling. Of particular interest to us, as cycling advocates, is the Enabling section which relates to the development of cycling overall and includes advocacy. CI does envisage a role for itself directly in cycling advocacy, but it is not yet clear exactly what that means in detail, and this will need to be teased out between CI and Cyclist.ie as we work together over the coming years.  The ‘Participation Pillar’ also includes some aspirational targets in relation to ‘audit of facilities’, and ‘participation for all ages and abilities’.

As you may be aware, CI runs some really progressive cycle training programmes that are funded directly and indirectly by the state. The main training program is the national Cycle Right bike training initiative, but there are a variety of other often innovative programmes geared towards getting more people on bikes. It is good that there is a professional funded body helping to support these activities.

While naturally CI concentrates on competitive and sports cycling, as befits its national brief, it also places greater emphasis in this new strategy on ‘fun’ and ‘non competitive’ events.  It recognises that there is a wider potential membership who wish to simply cycle for utility or leisure reasons. And like Cyclist.ie, CI has a strong volunteering culture which it proposes to develop further. CI and Cyclist.ie will, we hope, continue to work together as part of CI’s proposed ‘advocacy partner framework’, as this will be critical in the development of a deeper and broader cycling culture, and Cyclist.ie already has a basic Memo of Understanding with CI. The work that we do in Cyclist.ie is supportive and complementary in helping to build the foundations for the growth of cycling countrywide.

CI will continue to work with many of the same ‘actors’ or agencies as Cyclist.ie.  We in Cyclist.ie look forward to enhancing cooperation across those links. All in all, the CI strategy is a challenging and worthwhile four year strategy doc with the different actors responsible clearly nominated, and timelines set. We in Cyclist.ie wish Cycling Ireland the very best with this new strategy and we look forward to increased and productive cooperation into the future.

Note: image above comes from the Axa Community Bike Rides.

750m cycle path costing €9 million opens along Dublin’s Royal Canal

A 750m long cycle path has been opened along the Royal Canal in Dublin’s North Strand at a cost of nearly €9 million.

The stretch is part of Dublin City Council’s Royal Canal “premium” cycle route, a 7km path running from the north quays to the city’s border with Fingal at Ashtown.

The first section of the route, a 500m stretch from Guild Street at the north quays to Sheriff Street, was completed more than a decade ago, but despite several announcements, work on the second phase to bring the path to Newcomen bridge at the North Strand only began in February of last year.

The newly opened section costing €8.9 million, consists of a segregated three-metre wide cycle track and two-metre wide footpath on a viaduct bridge alongside a linear park. The project also involved the realignment of the junction of Seville Place, Guild Street and Sheriff Street Upper and the provision of a pedestrian and cyclist crossing at its entrance with North Strand Road.

Full article (Irish Times)


The Rural Cycling Collective is an expanding array of small groups and individuals within the wider Cyclist.ie Advocacy Network with a focus on making rural communities (towns, villages and rural roads) cycle friendly for all ages and abilities.

Read our Vision for Cycling in Rural Ireland document here, the result of consultation and collaboration with cycling advocacy groups and stakeholders from the around the country.

On Wednesday September 23rd, as part of national Bike Week, we would like to invite all stakeholders and interested parties to attend:

Register to attend the launch event on Zoom, Wednesday September 23rd here.

Thank you for all your feedback and support via our survey, which is now closed.

Cyclist.ie’s Rural Cycling Collective

Cyclist.ie’s Rural Collective

Last week a Zoom meeting was called for any interested groups, to discuss creating a new sub-collective of Cyclist.ie in order to build a mutual support network to promote and celebrate cycling in towns, villages and in between.  Cyclist groups introduced themselves and discussed their strengths, challenges and the vision for the collective. As smaller ‘rural’ groups often struggle with fewer volunteer resources, expertise, and energy than larger city-based initiatives, by banding together the idea is that they will be able to move forward more efficiently and effectively, with mutual support (and with less-burnout!).

Towns and cities represented at the meeting were Thurles, Bandon, Skiberreen, Clonakilty, Kilkenny, Leitrim, Sligo, Navan, Bandon, Kerry and Wexford.

While the mission and manifesto of the collective are currently being worked on with a launch expected later this month, the aim is to work alongside one another to better engage and work with relevant authorities and stakeholders, and to help bring forth a national transition towards a cyclist-friendly Ireland. To spread the love of bikes and work towards their manifesto goals, the collective will propose regular actions, fun-cycles and campaigns that member groups can host in their own communities. By joining forces to gain momentum, allies, and media attention the sum of their local actions will be greater than the sum of the parts.

If you, as a  group or individual  would like more information, or to get involved, please contact Allison Roberts (Cyclist.ie Executive Member/Clonakilty Bicycle Festival)

Clonakilty Bicycle Festival

The team at the Clonakilty Bicycle Festival started a podcast!  Now on it’s 7th episode it was started to spread the news about their festival and have decided to keep it going on a weekly basis year round!   Already on the podcast at warmshowers.org are interviews with Tahverlee, Mairead Forsythe (Love30), a cycle-history of West Cork, an episode with Cycle Bus leaders from around the country and more!

You can find the Clon Bike Cast most places you get your podcasts, or here. Please share and subscribe!

The Clonakilty Bicycle Festival had it’s 9th year in June at it was a roaring success, by branching out and re-envisioning what was possible in the lock-down organizers put together a programme of ‘anywhere in the world’ events, live streaming talks, film screening with director Q&A and more. Thank you to all who joined in, especially for our Global Scavenger Hunt which had 28 teams and over 100 participants from all corners of the globe. We are so looking forward to next year – our 10th Clon Bike Fest – we are already hatching plans to take over Clon with bikes… will you join us?

Get in touch with us at [email protected]  or www.clonakiltybicyclefestival.org

North West Greenway Network – survey

Survey published regarding Buncrana greenway in Donegal – win a commuter bike worth €500

In Donegal, as part of the Council’s work for the Environmental Impact Assessment Report (required as part of the planning process), the local Council has published a survey soliciting feedback from the general public regarding their cycling and walking preferences, particularly if a greenway linked Derry and Buncrana.

There is a section on the requirements of tourists, so feedback from outside the area is also sought.

The survey can be found here:

The deadline for completing the survey is Tuesday 14 July 2020.

Ronan Gallagher
Communications Officer
North West Greenway Network
Roads & Transportation
Donegal County Council