Press release from Cyclist.ie – A consultancy report on cycle lanes released this week may not be what is needed to boost commuting cyclists numbers for 2020

PRESS RELEASE From Cyclist.ie – Ireland’s National Cycling Lobby Group

Cyclists say consultants’ cycle-lane claims need careful interpretation and action by roads authorities if numbers of cyclists are to be massively increased in line with government target of 10% of commuting trips made on bikes by 2020

The joint AECOM and TCD (Civil, Structural & Environmental Engineering) consultants’ report for Dublin City published this week attempts to show, using a cycling infrastructure preference survey methodology, what measures and policies are required in order to persuade many thousands more commuters to switch from car to bike use for their daily commutes. The context for this survey was the setting by the previous government of an ambitious target in its National Cycling Promotion Policy Framework (NCPF) of 10% of commuting trips nationally to be made by bike by 2020. We are way off that target already in 2011.

In the AECOM/TCD study, 2000 respondents were shown computer generated pictures of various cycling provisions and built infrastructure and asked to express preferences. The results, as stated by the authors, were that most respondents expressed a preference for cycling on the segregated facilities (i.e. rider is not directly in traffic) that they were shown. Mike McKillen (Cyclist.ie, chairman) stated “While we welcome Irish-based research on cycling in Ireland, we feel that showing respondents pictures of idealised cycle facilities and asking them if that’s what they want is not a viable approach to transport planning. Building cycling infrastructure is costly and with scarce road space it is not possible to create a coherent and safe network in towns and cities. It is a pipe-dream if we expect vehicle lanes to be yielded up for cycle lane or track construction. It’s akin to presenting children with a wish list for Santa Claus and then the poor parents are not in a position to deliver the goodies on Christmas Day”!

However cyclists strongly welcome the implied finding of the study, which is that cyclists and potential cyclists recognise a need for investment in measures to improve cyclists’ experience of using the roads.

Mike McKillen points out that “over the two decades since the Department of Transport started to introduce measures to try to promote greater use of the bicycle for commuting there has been too much emphasis on construction of cycling facilities – measures such as shared use of bus lanes, on-road cycle lanes, off-road cycleways, etc – that have not led to the desired increase in cyclist numbers”.

Instead, Cyclist.ie wants a focus on behavioural interventions such as training for novice cyclists, new laws requiring passing motorists to give cyclists more space and increased Garda enforcement of key traffic infringements including infringements by cyclists (no lights at night, red light running, riding on pavements, etc).

The Smarter Travel initiative culminating in the publication of the NCPF in 2009 very clearly calls for ‘soft measures’ such as introduction of 30 km/h speed limits in urban areas and around schools (properly enforced, unlike the Dublin Quays scheme), traffic calming, reduction in goods vehicles transiting through urban areas, to name but a few, to be implemented before construction of cycling facilities are considered. This report’s findings fly in the face of the NCPF.

Cyclist.ie recognises a need for built infrastructural measures in certain circumstances but insists that it must be guided by the government’s National Cycling Policy Framework (NCPF) as adopted in 2009 after extensive consultation. The NCPF advocates a hierarchical approach, where built cycle facilities get the lowest priority coming behind traffic reduction, speed restraint, traffic management and junction treatment that recognises the needs of cyclists and allocating existing traffic lanes in a way that gives them more space.

The cyclists point out that investment in built cycle facilities requires additional investment in maintenance or the new facilities rapidly become unusable. They say this maintenance is already lacking on existing cycle facilities so more of the same is not an option under present budgetary constraints.

Cyclist.ie vice chair, Dr. Darren MacAdam-O’Connell, continued “The issue here is whether we want to spend our taxes doing something on selected roads for a few cyclists or spend taxes doing as much as possible, for as many people as possible, across our whole public road system. Unfortunately, the participants in this survey do not appear to have been given this choice. Those who are peddling built infrastructure are on a track to more wastage of public funds that will likely miss the 10% target set in the NCPF for 2020″.

ENDS

6 thoughts on “Press release from Cyclist.ie – A consultancy report on cycle lanes released this week may not be what is needed to boost commuting cyclists numbers for 2020”

  1. Sorry but I think this is completely mad. This survey, just like every other half-decent survey on the subject, found that most non-cyclists will not start cycling until there are segregated cycle facilities which separate them from road traffic, because they (quite rightly) find road traffic threatening and dangerous. The ‘soft’ measures you favour will not tempt most non-cyclists onto the roads. At best they will, if ever implemented properly, make conditions more pleasant for your existing constituency of cyclists, i.e. the small minority who don’t mind mixing it with road traffic. But they won’t deliver 10% or anything like it.

    Please reconsider your stance, and reject this false opposition between infrastructure and ‘soft’ measures.

  2. I couldn’t disagree more with Mike McKillen and Dr. Darren MacAdam-O’Connell of cyclist.ie. Here you have a report (survey) that finally asks people (ie non cyclists) what would encourage them to ride, and cyclist.ie are dead set against the results simply because the solutions on the table are considered ‘pipe-dreams’ – this coming from Ireland’s NATIONAL Cycling LOBBY. Clearly cyclist.ie are experts and couldn’t possibly learn anything from places like the Netherlands. Honestly, you guys need to reconsider your position. It’s perfectly fine to be sceptical about the political and financial sense for providing cycling infrastructure in Ireland; it’s something else altogether to question why non-cyclists won’t take up cycling in highly motorised environments.

  3. I find this rather confusing, what is the point of “Cyclist.ie”? Do you want more people to cycle or not?? From what is written above, it suggests that Mr MacAdam-O’Connell completely misses the point, this is not about the small minority of people who currently ride bicycles on the roads, it is about giving the majority of people the opportunity of using bicycles as a form of safe, convenient, transport.

    How exactly does “peddling built infrastructure” discourage people who do not currently cycle, but say they would if they had access to segregated facilities? Would you say that by removing foot paths from and pedestrian crossing from busy roads is a good way of increasing the number of people choosing to walk? This after all is the argument you are advancing to increase cycling rates. Can you point to anywhere in the world where cycling rate have been increased without the provision of separated infrastructure on roads with high motor traffic? International experience has shown that “soft” measures only work in areas of very low motor traffic, i.e. home zones.

    The existence of poor or badly designed cycle infrastructure is does not show that cycle infrastructure doesn’t work, it simply shows that bad infrastructure is a waste of money and achieves nothing. Good, well designed cycle infrastructure, need not be expensive and provides a greater return on investment then the infrastructure for motor traffic it replaces. This has clearly been shown across the world, if you want a good example just take a look at Barcelona, they got it wrong the first time around, learned from their mistakes, corrected them and cycling rates shot up.

    Yes, it will be necessary to take space away from motor traffic and this may inconvenience a minority, but it will have a greater benefit to people living in the place where this happens.

    At the end of the day you either want more people to ride bicycles as everyday transport or you don’t! From your press release above it looks like you are either living in cloud cuckoo land, or you don’t actually want more people to cycle.

  4. I’m not an expert on either segregation or what decisions are being made by our authorities on these matters. However, I presume what we’ll get delivered as segregated infrastructure will have to meet the standards at http://www.cyclemanual.ie and be no better than those standards. Those standards, even though they are very recent, are not nearly high enough.

    In particular, see this post at boards.ie:
    http://www.boards.ie/vbulletin/showpost.php?p=74134331&postcount=21

    As the poster says, “Have they learned anything from the nonsense which has already been built?”

    Why can’t we have binding standards that mean you don’t lose priority to cars coming out of driveways, aren’t left vulnerable to right hooks, and end up sent from Dan to Beersheba when you just want to cross a junction?

    The unofficial symbol for a cycle lane in Ireland continues to be the Yield triangle.

  5. Shane Foran
    Regional Spokesperson
    Cyclist.ie

    Hi

    @Jim, @Chris and @Kim. I can assure you that we have studied Denmark and the Netherlands in great detail. Telling people that cyclists want more cycle facilities is a somewhat pointless exercise.

    Offering people cycle facilities is not the same thing as offering them Denmark or the Netherlands. We are not aware of any country that has grown cycling through policy actions that did not address the manner in which motor traffic was being managed and constrained. To suggest otherwise is wholly disingenuous. With regret, to suggest to us that we can grow cycling without addressing policy on on motor traffic and without making the use of cycle facilities subordinate to measures that take account of the negative effects of motor traffic focused roads policies, is to insult people’s intelligence.

    With respect might I suggest that you read our policy document and also the National Cycle Policy Framework by way of informing yourselves what a balanced program of cycle promotion looks like.

    Best regards

    Shane Foran

  6. It seems that cyclist.ie is really advocating for measures that suit a certain segment of the cycling public – the more experienced ones and especially the “two wheels good, four wheels bad” types who enjoy nothing more than getting into scrapes with motorists.
    Mandatory segregation (which would certainly increase cyclist numbers) doesn’t suit your real agenda. It solves so much of the problems and keeps aggresive cyclists away from motorists who have enough to look out for without adding cyclist lemmings to the list.

    The future’s bright – its segregated! Keep advocating lads, I like where this is going!

Leave a Reply

Your e-mail address will not be published. Required fields are marked *