Appointment of Professor Donal O’Shea as Honorary President of Cyclist.ie

Press Release from Cyclist.ie – The Irish Cycling Advocacy Network – to mark the appointment of Professor Donal O’Shea (RCPI Policy Group on Obesity) as Honorary President to coincide with National Bike Week 2016 (Sat 11 – Sun 19 June)

Cyclist.ie – The Irish Cycling Advocacy Network – is pleased to announce the appointment of Prof Donal O’Shea as its first Hon. President. Prof O’Shea is a consultant endocrinologist specialising in obesity/overweight and is Chair of the Policy Group on Obesity at the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland. He is also a member of the Government’s Healthy Ireland Council.

“In the race to become the most obese country in Europe, Ireland looks set to win. Latest predictions estimate that by 2030, 90 per cent of Ireland’s population will be overweight or obese, the highest projected level of any European country.”

Prof O’Shea is delighted to accept this new role.

“I am very pleased to take on a role as Hon. President with Cyclist.ie – The Irish Cycling Advocacy Network. The association promotes everyday cycling activity – and that’s the type of physical activity that makes a real difference at a population level over time. We have seen the increase in triathlons and weekend distance cycles, but Cyclist.ie is really trying to encourage day to day cycling – to school, work or just down to the shops. That’s an important goal for making positive changes to our population health.

Cyclist.ie’s goals fit in very well with the goals of the Royal College of Physicians’ Policy Groups on Obesity and Physical Activity, as well as the recently launched National Physical Activity Plan for Ireland- so I am very happy to become a strong supporter of theirs”.

Colm Ryder, Chairperson of Cyclist.ie, “is pleased that Prof Donal O Shea, the renowned endocrinologist and diabetes specialist, who is a prominent campaigner for investment in active lifestyles, has agreed to become our Honorary President. Prof O Shea recognises the important roles that advocacy groups such as Cyclist.ie can play in pushing for a new dynamic in public health spending, and in the recognition that promotion of daily physical activity can play in improving overall population health. Cyclist.ie works across a number of Government Departments and agencies in promoting the message of the need for greater investment in regular daily physical activity. Ireland, like other European countries, needs to invest in quality, safe infrastructure to encourage people to ‘Get on your Bike’!”

Dr Mike McKillen, retired academic biochemist and spokesperson for Cyclist.ie, stated that “some 26% of Irish 9-year olds are already overweight/obese (ESRI, “Overweight & Obesity among 9-year olds in Ireland, 2011) and is concerned at the markedly sedentary lifestyles of too many of our school children, where the school run by car is now the norm. Children are far too often lifted and laid for socialising and leisure trips in the family car as well”.

Census 2011 revealed that only 6,252 (1.3%) Primary Level children cycled to school. Many of them lived within 5 km of their local school so a commute by bike is well within their capability if only our roads were less cycling-hostile. A trip distance of 5 km is easily completed within 20 min by bike – no sweat!

At Second Level a telling statistic is that 2,755 girls actually drove themselves to school whereas only 529 used their bicycle!

What will Census 2016 reveal?

Cyclist.ie welcomes the government’s commitment to introduce cycling skills training into every second level school in the country towards the end of 2016. This training will give parents the confidence that their children will have the skills to stay safe on our roads but road authorities need to do more to make traffic management less biased in favour of motorised transport so that children will have safe routes to and from local schools – this means widespread acceptance of 30 km/h speed limits and a safe overtaking distance of 1.5 m.

Children will from now on have an active travel mode to and from school so in time we should see a reduction in obesity levels when coupled with good nutritional choices.

Cyclist.ie was founded in 2008 in anticipation of the government’s National Cycling Policy Framework published in 2009. The NCPF sets a road-map for government to re-establish a ‘cycling culture’ in Ireland on a par with our partners in Denmark and The Netherlands where cycling to school is the norm and childhood obesity levels are low.

National Bike Week is a celebration of the bicycle being used as a utility vehicle for trips to school, college, shops and for socialising and exploring neighbourhoods, but above all for having fun in a relaxed family context.

Leave a Reply

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