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Cycling Ireland AXA Community Bike Rides

Cyclist.ie has had a strategic partnership with Cycling Ireland since 2016 – the aim is to jointly promote and advocate for the development of cycling on the island of Ireland. We meet Cycling Ireland staff and volunteers on a regular basis, we and keep up-to-date on what is happening in the sports and leisure side of two wheeling – and equally, we share what is happening in the campaigning and advocacy spheres with them. Mary Corry, Development Officer for Cycling Ireland’s AXA Community Bike Rides, sent us the following update on what is happening with the bike ride programme they organise during the COVID crisis.

With the current restrictions in place, unfortunately AXA Community Bike Rides are unable to take place in their current format. For now, we are conscious that many of our members may like to take part in other cycling related activities within their home environment, such as taking part in strength exercises for cycling or learning about interval training. Others may like to find out – Is my saddle the right height for me? How do I fix a puncture? Is my helmet fitting properly? How do I clean my bike chain? 

As a result, the AXA Community Bike Rides team have worked on developing short video clips on the above such topics so that for those who want to improve their cycling technique, they can look to engage with strength training clips or interval training, or for those who may like to improve their bike fitting and maintenance skills, they have access to short tutorial clips on how to go about doing this, see below

See also AXA Community Bike Rides

Another 6 clips being shared over the coming weeks …

Clonakilty Bicycle Festival 2020 is going Global

This year the Clon Bike Fest will widen its spokes, reaching wide and inviting bicycle lovers all over the world to participate in a series of events, online and on your bike – wherever you are!

While the organizers are still finalizing details of the weekend, they are offering this snap shot:

The main on-yer-bike event of the weekend will be a 4 day ‘Photo Scavenger Hunt’ – open to small groups of bike lovers around the world. Register a team of 2-6 people (respecting your local COVID-19 guidelines) and prepare yourselves for 4 days of cycle hunting and photo posing – each item on the list will be assigned point values – and the team with the most points will win a wheely wonderful prize pack! Scavenger hunt list will be published on the evening of Wednesday June 3rd and entries will close mid-night on the 8th.

The Bicycle Festival will also host a live streaming ‘Bicycle Lovers’ Forum’ to discuss topics from ‘Cycling beyond the Pandemic’ to community bike shops to bike-buses, and everything in between. You can also expect live streaming Bike Repair with community bike mechanics from our very own Bike Circus as well as a virtual Cycle-in-Cinema and ideas and invitations to set up small cycle obstacle courses for your street!

T-shirts are being designed, digital posters and programmes will be available from May 15th – Please spread the word!

Details here, or email or call 085 757 4338

Coronavirus: Change Our Streets, make Safer Streets for all

The Irish Pedestrian Network and Cyclist.ie call on the national government to provide safe, usable space across the country for people to shop, exercise and commute by walking and cycling during the Covid-19 crisis. 

While current lock-down restrictions are in place until May 5, 2020, the Minister for Health Simon Harris has stated that social distancing measures may stay in place to some degree until a coronavirus vaccine has been found. 

A substantial percentage of Irish people shop on foot or by cycling, and physical exercise is vitally important to both physical and mental health. 

The Irish Pedestrian Network and Cyclist.ie propose that while motor traffic is reduced, space on streets must be reallocated to walking, running, cycling and playing to ensure safe social distancing within communities – a reallocation that is already taking place internationally. 

Speaking for the Irish Pedestrian Network Ailish Drake says, “The New Zealand government has empowered local communities to create more social distancing space by providing 90% funding for new footpaths and widen existing ones, and to create pop-up bike lanes. These measures can be put in place in a matter of hours or a few days using paint, blocks or planters.” 

Damien O Tuama, spokesperson for Cyclist.ie the Irish Cycling Advocacy Network, says, “Over sixty towns and cities worldwide, in recognition of this new reality, have quickly installed low-cost temporary measures by using cones to widen footpaths and repurposing full vehicle lanes to cycle lanes. Dublin has now joined Berlin, Washington DC and London in reallocating road space to ensure safer social distancing is possible. We want other councils to do the same.” 

The Irish Pedestrian Network and Cyclist.ie welcome efforts by many local Councillors and TDs in seeking additional space for social distancing across Irish cities and in particular the progress made in Dublin where Dublin City Council will begin implementing emergency distancing measures from Monday 20th April. 

  1. IPN and Cyclist.ie now call on the government to implement a nationwide programme
  2. Automate pedestrian crossings so people do not have to manually press signal buttons
  3. Introduce a default speed limit of 30km/h on all urban and suburban streets
  4. Reallocate road space to pedestrians and cyclists, to make walking and cycling safer for people who are exercising within their 2 km from home zone, especially those with prams or wheelchairs
  5. Enable local authorities to prioritise temporary measures such as widening of footpaths, pop-up cycle lanes, quietways in cities and/or closing road lanes and specific streets to motor traffic, by the temporary application of DMURS standards to existing streets
  6. New spaces to be allocated fairly and with consideration of universal needs across city centre, suburbs, towns and villages to avoid people ‘flocking’ to centralised areas
  7. Dedicated teams in each local authority to enable local residents and interested groups to plan and design temporary footpaths and cycle lanes in their locality
  8. Rapid implementation of said routes with a design strategy to clearly indicate new routes to users and motorists

Orla Burke, spokesperson for Pedestrian Cork explains, “Families in Cork, denied the opportunity to drive to their favourite walking spots, are coming face-to-face with the poor provision for walking in their immediate neighbourhoods. Quick wins are available to our councils but this requires thoughtful leadership. This could be a time for simple yet effective improvements to facilitate walking. We call on our local authorities to rise to the challenge of Covid-19 make our streets safe for all.” 

Anne Cronin of Cycle Bus Limerick says, “For children that live in the city or suburbs, jumping on their bike with a parent, is their only way to connect with a space outside of their home. Many children are forced to cycle on the road as opposed to the footpath and therefore are at risk without segregation. The increase in the numbers of children cycling in our city is remarkable at the moment and children should be protected and supported to remain doing so.” 

Ailish Drake adds, “These temporary actions in response to the Covid-19 emergency, would be strategic in creating a positive culture change to make our towns and cities more liveable and contributing to a much needed boost in footfall required to aid the economic recovery when we move beyond the current crisis. This is in line with current government policy for both urban and rural regeneration development funds (URDF & RRDF).”  

Cycling Beyond the Crisis

The coronavirus pandemic is hitting our lives, our economies and even our way of seeing the world. There are always lessons to learn from difficult times and this crisis has made it clear that we need to change the way we live, work and move. During these days, cars have almost disappeared from all streets of Europe, noise and air pollution levels have fallen to historic lows and bicycles have risen as the safest means of transport to do essential trips for food and medicine and to get some outdoor exercise. Never before have we been able to see, in such a clear way, the impact of the current mobility model on health, environment, equality and safety. Nor has a generation ever faced such a crucial “what if” moment for transportation. ECF finds, in this COVID19 crisis, one of those life-changing moments that can drive great social changes. With ‘Cycling Beyond the Crisis’ we want to gather facts, initiatives and insights that could lead to reset European mobility and economy once we’ve beaten the COVID19.

Read article

Post-Covid 19 – The Politics of Space: Walking and Cycling

Covid-19 has resulted in illness, bereavement, anxiety, unemployment and economic hardship. Naturally, everyone is focused on getting through and flattening the curve, but there is talk too about how our society will have changed when it is all over.

Authorities worldwide have responded to the marked reduction in motor traffic and the relative increase in the numbers walking and cycling by re-purposing space for active travel.  We outline in this article some of the measures taken worldwide and ask can they be made permanent?

In Europe, the Americas and Australia authorities in charge of transport have taken various initiatives to make walking and cycling safer and more attractive. Philip Oltermann, Berlin bureau chief for The Guardian, reports that authorities in the German capital have widened a bike lane by incorporating some of the carriageway space for general motorised traffic

In New York, Mayor de Blasio has installed emergency bike lanes to ensure the safety of the increased numbers of people who are cycling in order to maintain physical distancing. This measure is especially beneficial for the many health workers who are cycling

In an article for City Lab titled, “In a Global Health Emergency the Bicycle Shines”, journalist and cycling advocate, Laura Laker, describes the various initiatives underway to prioritise and safeguard people cycling.  Bogota in Columbia, for example, is installing tens of kilometres of emergency cycleways.

In London, the public Santander bike-share scheme operated by Transport for London (TfL) is being made available free of charge to NHS staff and other bike companies including Buzzbike, Brompton Bicycle Ltd and Beryl Bikes have also come on board.

In Sydney’s Central Business District of Sydney, in Calgary in Canada, and in Auckland in New Zealand, pedestrian signal buttons have been automated thus avoiding the necessity of touching possibly (or even likely) contaminated surfaces. Brussels has adapted more than 100 traffic lights to favour cyclists and reduced pedestrian waiting times by between 20 and 40 seconds (@dimitristrobbe). In Monchengladbach, Germany, the local ADFC cycling campaign (the German equivalent of Cyclist.ie – the Irish Cycling Advocacy Network) has persuaded the authorities to convert two lanes of Bismarkstrasse to cycling.

So, what about positive initiatives here at home? Yes, there have been some, but first a negative. While empty streets have meant that people have been obeying guidelines and staying at home, active travel groups have been deeply concerned by countrywide reports of people using the freed-up space to drive faster and ignore speed limits.

What about the positives?! Bleeper Bikes have taken a similar initiative to London and made bicycles available to heath care workers in the Mater, St James’ and St Vincent’s hospitals. Meanwhile Moby, who were due to launch their e-bike sharing scheme in Dublin in April, are instead lending their bikes to hospital staff. In Galway, Brite Mobility is also providing e-bikes to health-care workers. Some Local Authority Road Safety Committees, notably Mayo, Donegal, Wexford, Monaghan and Cork County Councils, have made social media posting urging motorists to slow down. In Wicklow, the Greystones Municipal District of the Council has automated its pedestrian crossing buttons, thus avoiding the need for touching them. We really hope that other councils follow suit.   

There may be less traffic about but the two kilometre restriction on outings for exercise means that people, including children using buggies, bikes, and scooters, are walking and cycling close to their homes. And of course, many people are walking or cycling to work or to the shops. In order to observe physical distancing, all these people need space. We urge Irish authorities to do as has been done in other countries and reallocate space not needed by motorised vehicles to pedestrians and cyclists. They can do this on a temporary basis using bollards, wands and signage. Cyclist.ie is calling on local authorities to use their powers under Section 38 of the Road Traffic Act to do so and on the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport to introduce default emergency 30 kph speed limits in residential areas.

Note that on Wednesday morning April 8th , Vice-Chair of Dublin Cycling Campaign, Louise Williams spoke to Newstalk Breakfast about how, when things return to “normal”, we need to ensure that people continue to be able to walk and cycle – and therefore we must only phase cars back into the traffic equation, rather than returning immediately to the pre-status quo. You can listen back here.

Finally, note that the European Cyclists’ Federation (ECF), of which Cyclist.ie is the member for Ireland, issued a special newsletter in the last few days gathering ideas themed around ‘Cycling Beyond the Crisis’. It is well worth checking out. You can read it here.

Kerry Cycling Campaign call for motorists to slow down

Kerry Cycling Campaign have called for motorists to slow down and take more care following a horrific month of road deaths and injuries. With so many people out walking and cycling within 2 kilometers of their homes motorists are asked to slow down and be careful. The dramatic reduction in traffic volumes has resulted in some drivers increasing their speed – particularly in urban areas.

Anluan Dunne speaking of the Kerry Cycling Campaign said “Quite simply drivers need to slow down. We are calling on the Gardaí to step up enforcement across the county – especially in urban areas. More people are out walking and cycling and due to physical distancing they may have to step onto the road to avoid each other”

Read article

Radical Changes to Transport MUST Be Part of the Next Programme for Government

The election is over but a new government has not yet formed. The arrival of COVID 19 has added to the challenge of negotiations for a new Programme for Government, but at the same time we cannot stand still on other issues.  During the election, Cyclist.ie, the Irish Cycling Advocacy Network, urged parties to implement two key transport policies  – 1) the rebalancing of Land Transport funding to allocate more to cycling  and 2) the provision of high quality cycling infrastructure. 

We accept that in the short term that the government is facing substantially increased expenditure to deal with Covid-19 and its consequences and a reduction in the capital budget is inevitable. However, we are looking for a rebalance of the transport capital budget and would  stress that investment in cycling represents very good value for money – the best return on investment for any transport intervention. The need for an appropriate level of funding and high quality infrastructure will continue long into the future if Ireland is to achieve government goals on road safety, climate action, congestion, the environment and health.

From election manifestos, all political parties accept the need for increased everyday cycling, while most accept the need for increased funding to 10% of the Land Transport budget, which in 2020 would amount to €182M. In the first 8 months of last year, the Minister for Transport spent approximately €2M or  0.11% of his annual Land Transport budget on cycling from his Walking /Cycling allocation – the principal area of expenditure for everyday cycling. Gerry Dornan, Vice Chair of Cyclist.ie stated “We accept that an immediate increase to 10% by the Minister for Transport is not practical in 2020 or 2021, but it is realistic to ramp up investment to 10% within three or four years and that is the benchmark by which we will judge the next government”.

A revision to the Strategic Framework Investment in Land Transport (SFILT) is essential. The original SFILT was developed in 2015 and fails to take into account increasing congestion, chronic health issues, air and noise pollution.  A suite of some twenty background papers informed the SFILT process but most were related to existing high car dependency and failed to give any serious consideration to increased active travel. 

The second issue which the incoming government  must address is the quality of infrastructure. Last year, international attendees at the Velo-City cycling conference  in Dublin were shocked at the poor quality of Irish cycling infrastructure. In order to attract people out of cars, high quality segregated infrastructure is essential. 

Seville was able to provide a cycle network and increase cycling significantly to 8% in just five years – the same period of office as an incoming Irish government. In the last five years, there has been little progress in Irish cities. Cyclists in Galway and Cork are frustrated and alarmed by their respective Metropolitan Area Transport Strategies while Limerick cyclists have little confidence in efforts to date at urban improvement by their local authority. The Strategies pay lip service to prioritising cycling and instead reflect the road-centric policies of the SFILT. In particular, traffic models are constructed on the basis that traffic levels will increase, with the inevitable “conclusion” that more roads are needed. The increases are large enough to justify “one more lane” but less than actual increases which would cause politicians to question the viability of schemes in terms of sustainability and value for money. 

Furthermore, the lack of vision on cycling by Irish local authorities is clearly demonstrated by several Dutch cities having current cycling levels in excess of 40% of journeys, whereas by 2039-2040 the predicted level of cycling in Galway city centre is just 6% and in Cork is 4%.

Cyclist.ie believes that the Department of Transport should require Directors of Services for Transport to be appointed as Cycling Officers with responsibility for change in transport mode for their authority and for publishing annual progress reports. 

The challenges to the next Irish government are unprecedented. It MUST introduce radical change to the way transport is managed in order to create a resilient mobility system and one that is consistent with nurturing active and healthy travel habits.

Focus on COVID-19, not broken bones from speeding cars

Advocates for everyday cycling call on all to support Prof John Crown’s plea for lowered speed limits nationwide during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Prof Crown, consultant oncologist at St Vincent’s Hospital and former Senator, called for lowered speed limits nationwide during this public health emergency [1]. 

We are all concerned by reports countrywide of people driving faster. Though our roads are emptier, six people died in road traffic collisions last week [2] and road deaths are up by a quarter for 2020. 

The Road Safety Authority, Gardaí, medics and the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport  are asking motorists to slow down to avoid overburdening hospitals [3]. This does not go far enough.

The number one action to ‘lower the baseline’, and reduce one of the biggest causes of hospital admissions, is to immediately lower motor vehicle speeds, says The BMJ [4] and NHS doctors in The Times [5]. This is supported by 20’s Plenty for Us, a UK campaign for more liveable street environments by setting a mandatory 20 mph (circa 30 km/h) limit for most roads where people live [6].

The Isle of Man introduced an all-island speed limit of 40 mph (circa 65 km/h) from midnight Friday to ensure that its hospital does not become overwhelmed during the coronavirus pandemic [7].

Dr. Damien Ó Tuama, National Cycling Coordinator with Cyclist.ie, the Irish Cycling Advocacy Network that represents over twenty local campaign groups, greenway groups, and bike festivals, says:

We need more than a message that ‘motorists must slow down’. Lowering and enforcing speed limits will reduce the frequency and severity of road traffic collisions. Lower speed limits could be achieved immediately via ministerial order under Section 4 of the Road Traffic Act 2004 [8], but this will need buy-in from all. We call on Minister Shane Ross, An Garda Síochana, and the Road Safety Authority to act now.

Phil Skelton, founder and chief campaigner of Stayin’ Alive at 1.5, the successful campaign for the introduction of a cyclist specific dangerous overtaking law for Ireland [9], says:

We can reduce collisions in our cities, towns and villages with a 30 km/h speed limit. Every day we witness more people stepping off narrow footpaths – where they exist – to maintain the 2 metre physical distancing. With the new restrictions announced last night, people are now limited to exercising locally with 2 km of their homes. Essential workers will continue to commute by bicycle and by foot. We need drivers to slow down, give space to people cycling and walking, and save lives. ”

Mairéad Forsythe of Love 30, a campaign for lower speed limits [10], says:

Research is stark: collisions at 50 km/h are five times more likely to be fatal than at 30 km/h [11]. We need to follow the example of the Isle of Man and make our rural and urban roads safer from our doorsteps. We need lower speed limits, now.” 

Cyclist.ie, the Irish Cycling Advocacy Network, and other cycling and walking groups support Prof Crown’s call for immediate reductions in road speeds, in particular a default 30 km/h speed limit in urban areas.

How to report a ‘dangerous overtaking of a cyclist’ incident

Last November a new offence of ‘dangerous overtaking of cyclists’ was introduced, it carries a higher fine of €120 as well as three penalty points. How you can report such dangerous overtaking is explained in this article by Paul Corcoran, a former chairperson of the Dublin Cycling Campaign, who has recently reported cases to the Gardai.

See full article, on IrishCycle.com

Submission on Policing Priorities 2020

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 a registered Charity and are also the Irish member of the European Cyclists’ Federation.  Our vision is that cycling will be a normal part of transport and everyday life in Ireland.

Cyclist.ie, is delighted to make this brief submission to feed into Policing Priorities for 2020, and we note the commitments made in Policing Plan 2019.

We note and appreciate the Roads Policing Key Performance Indicators, the high level objective of Protecting People, and Garda Commissioner Drew Harris’ commitment in the foreword to keeping people safe and protecting the most vulnerable. We especially welcome the section in  Policing Priorities 2019 which includes Policing our Roads and Safeguarding Road Users. Cyclist.ie suggests two further additions to Policing Priorities 2020: 1) Dangerous Overtaking and 2) Obstruction of Cycle Lanes 

Both of which would help to improve the safety of people who cycle.

The background to our comments is the trend of increasing cyclist fatalities on the roads. The graph below shows that this trend has been generally upward since 2011.   

Together with this trend in cyclist fatalities, we note the very worrying trend of high levels of serious injuries to vulnerable road users in urban areas, as outlined in the joint RSA/Garda press release of 28th November

The excerpted graph below, from the above report, illustrates the seriousness of this growing trend

We would hope that these latest figures will spur the Garda Traffic Division to greater efforts to protect vulnerable road users in urban areas in particular.  And, in the case of cyclists this can be done by increased enforcement levels, based on the new ‘Safe Overtaking of Cyclists’ legislation as well as tackling illegal parking in cycle lanes, on double yellow lines, and illegal use of bus lanes by private vehicles.  We note also from the latest figures released by the RSA that approximately three cyclists per week suffer life changing injuries.

Periodically, Cyclist.ie meets with senior officers of An Garda Roads Policing Unit, and RSA, to discuss items of mutual interest. The most recent meeting – jointly with the Road Safety Authority – was on 27th August 2019 when the Garda delegation was led by Chief Superintendent Paul Cleary. The discussions that day included Dangerous Overtaking, and Obstruction of Cycle Lanes. 

Dangerous Overtaking of Cyclists

Cyclist.ie has campaigned in support of legislative changes and more effective enforcement of road safety legislation. We are pleased that the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport and the Minister for Justice have successfully introduced new penalties for the Dangerous Overtaking of Cyclists.  We look forward to new initiatives by the Garda Roads Policing Unit in 2020 to support the introduction of this legislation, and to protect vulnerable road users.

Obstruction of Cycle Tracks

A second  area of concern is drivers who obstruct cycle tracks by parking on them, thereby forcing cyclists either onto the footpath or into general traffic lanes. We welcome the provision of an email address for Cyclist.ie to report such instances and propose to follow up on this in this New Year. We note that on 23rd June last, Minister Flanagan tweeted that “Cycle lanes must be kept clear for cyclists only. Gardaí and local authorities must act to enforce the law.”

We would also welcome increased policing of the offences referred to above, namely; parking on double yellow lines, and illegal use of bus lanes by private vehicles.  The publication of regular (quarterly?) bulletins on the number of Fixed Charge Penalty Notices (FCPN) issued would be a progressive step in indicating how all of these issues are being progressed.

As enforcement is a key factor in ensuring that cyclists are not endangered by such practices, a commitment in terms of targets and resources is essential to ensure that the targets in question are met. As a step towards this end, Cyclist.ie urges the Garda Commissioner to include these areas in the Policing Priorities of the national Policing Plan 2020.

We note that the Police Authority also has input into the national policing priorities and that the priorities in turn inform and are reflected in the priorities of Divisional Policing Plans and the Joint Policing Committees. Highlighting these areas by prioritising them would send a clear message to members of the force, to politicians and to the general public that they are no longer acceptable.

Cyclist.ie is happy to engage with members of the Roads Policing Unit at any stage, on any of the above issues.