All posts by John

Huge turnout for Great Southern Trail Greenway Christmas Walk / Cycle 2017

Over 200 people of all ages had a most enjoyable 10km walk or cycle along the old railway from Barnagh(N21) to Newcastle West on Wednesday 27  December 2017. The event was organised by the Great Southern Trail, the voluntary group that campaigned, developed and managed the Greenway until 2015). We were blessed with the weather on the day, crisp and bright. It was great to meet old and new faces including participants from our neighbouring counties of Kerry and Cork along with visitors from further afield.

Thanks to Phelim and Margaret of Coach House Travel and Pat Liston, our driver, for transporting everyone to the starting point from where the view over the Golden Vale was at its best . The walkers then had an easy downhill stroll along the Greenway which was in pristine condition thanks to the work of Joe O’Connor and his team in Limerick City & County Council along with the Rural Social Scheme personnel. The newly installed bilingual townland signs were also favourably commented upon.

After a walk of about two hours Triona Dore and her staff at the Longcourt House Hotel ensured that everyone had a nice cup of tea/coffee to wash down the seasonal mince pies. This was the largest ever participation in the Christmas walks/cycles organised by the GST over many years and we wish to thank the local papers, radio and parish bulletins for the generous coverage they have always provided to GST events. Bliain Nua Sonasach daoibh uilig i 2018.

In 2018, please God,  the GST hopes to organise a similar walk/cycle from Barnagh to Abbeyfeale  once Limerick City & County Council have reconnected the wonderful Barnagh Railway Tunnel to the Greenway. [At present the tunnel is a ‘stand alone’ feature and only accessible from the N21 Layby at Barnagh]. With Kerry County Council  preparing to continue the Greenway to Listowel 2018 could also witness an Abbeyfeale to Listowel walk/cycle and we encourage our Kerry supporters to contact their public representatives on the necessity to not alone link Listowel to the Greenway but to continue westwards to Tralee and Fenit along the old railway that Kerry  County Council have already purchased from CIÉ. Greenways revitalise rural communities; one need only visit the Waterford Greenway to witness that at first hand.

Finally, the GST is hoping to visit the Mayo Greenway on Bank Holiday Monday 7 May 2018: The group will be limited to 40 people with the cost being €60 including breakfast/evening dinner and coach travel from Newcastle West but not including bike-hire. Email [email protected] or phone Pat Condon 06962344 if interested.

Ireland’s Road Safety Champions 2017 Presented with ‘Leading Lights in Road Safety’ Awards by the Road Safety Authority

Full report; two highlights below

Special Recognition’ Award: Phil Skelton

Phil Skelton founded the Stayin’ Alive at 1.5 campaign in 2013 following the deaths of two cyclists in Wexford as a result of collisions with cars travelling in the same direction. The campaign raises awareness of the need to allow sufficient space when overtaking cyclists and campaigns for the introduction of a Minimum Passing Distance Law (MPDL).

 Phil has distributed approximately 10,000 car window stickers with the 1.5m message and supported creation of similar stickers in Sligo, Wexford and Kerry. Five local authorities have introduced the ‘Stayin’ Alive at 1.5’ logo on suitable vehicles (Wexford, Kerry, Donegal, Sligo, Mayo).

 Phil Skelton has been successful in increasing motorists’ awareness of safe overtaking distance. He has shown an outstanding level of commitment to the Stayin’ Alive at 1.5 campaign. The range and intensity of activities undertaken requires a huge voluntary time commitment.

Dublin Bus won the Public Sector Award – see below – for their wonderful and witty training video for drivers around cyclists
Public Sector’ Award: Dublin Bus

The number of cyclists on Dublin City roads has increased significantly over the last 10 years. Approximately 900 buses are sharing road space with cyclists during peak times. Dublin Bus have been proactive by acknowledging and recognising the significant increase in cyclists and the corresponding increased hazard that this can present for their drivers. Dublin Bus wanted to explore innovative methods to further improve the awareness amongst their drivers in relation to cyclists, and also to promote the importance of cyclist safety to a wider audience.

They commissioned a cyclist safety awareness video which now forms an integral part of ongoing driver training. The film was launched in 2016 and was rolled out to all employees attending their Training Centre for initial driver training, 2-yearly refresher training and Driver CPC.

Unfortunately our other 2 nominees, Cian Ginty/IrishCycle.com and Kerry’s Eye newspaper did not make the awards … but no disgrace out of a total of 160 nominations!

New Trishaws, Awards, New Brochure – We’re Cycling!

Latest update newsletter from Cycling without Age (CWA – group member of Cyclist.ie)

Trishaws:   In addition to a trishaw now in St Luke’s, in Mahon in Cork, and one in Clonakilty, we now have three in Dublin: one in Sybil Hill Nursing Home in Raheny, sponsored by Canada Life Re-Insurance, one in TLC Care Centre in Santry (who have three care homes), sponsored by Hidden Hearing, one in Mount Carmel HSE Community Hospital, sponsored by Zendesk.com, and at least two more on order.

Awards: Social Entrepreneurs Ireland Academy 2017 awarded us €1500 which we have put towards promotional expenses, and KBC Bank Bright Ideas awarded Kilkenny Recreation & Sports Partnership CWA) €1750. This confirms that CWA is being recognised as a valuable social enterprise.

New Brochure: With the award from Social Entrepreneurs Ireland we got a brochure designed and printed. If you would like to get copies printed, go ahead. Or you can make colour photocopies. I can also provide a .pdf version of the brochure marked up for printing.

Having the brochure was essential when we attended as guests of the Nursing Homes Ireland annual conference in Citywest on 16th November, with 300 delegates and many trade exhibitors. We greatly appreciate their invitation to showcase our demo trishaw ‘Daisy’, and talk with nursing home owners from all over Ireland. On his arrival, Health Minister Simon Harris sat into our ‘Daisy’ and the photo appeared in the next day’s Irish Independent, with a broadly smiling Minister! He has asked us to go in and talk to Healthy Ireland in his Department.  Our thanks also to Ashbury Nursing Home in Deansgrange for providing their jeep, trailer and driver to get us to Citywest and back on the day.

Public Liability Insurance:  We are delighted to announce that Insurance Brokers O’Driscoll O’Neil have located an insurance company willing to offer all Irish CWA trishaw owners Public Liability cover. For more details, please contact Declan Troy, Tel: 01- 639 5860.

Hi-Vis Vests:  Given that we need to educate other road users on the appearance of CWA trishaws on our roads, I recommend that owners ask all pilots to wear identifiable RED hi-vis vests with the words VOLUNTEER PILOT on the lower back panel. I can give you a link to a print company who has already supplied some. Identifying the pilots as volunteers has already had benefits in the form of free coffee to passengers and pilots in some coffee shops!

Networking countrywide:  Our database for communicating with you is sortable by location. In this way, when I get enquiries from one region, I can link you up with others in that region. This is important, as we are volunteers and CWA is very time-consuming! We have been invited to give talks in places as far apart as Waterford and Donegal. While this shows the super level of interest, we cannot easily get to all these places, though we do try to cover local (to Dublin area) requests. Going forward, I would like other CWA affiliates to get out there spreading the word! We can help with details and information if requested. I can also supply you with graphics for a pull-up banner for using at events, talks and launches.

New Affiliates:  If you have signed up – or want to – as a CWA affiliate, do let me know.  I can then put you in touch with others including volunteer pilots in your area. Likewise, if you have recently received your CWA trishaw, do let me know, so we can promote you. We have held photo-calls for each of the Dublin launches, which generate good media and other responses, always building on the branding and profile of CWA.

Ordering your trishaw: All the specifications and details of the Trio Taxi Bike and the Christiania are on CWA; click on Order Bikes. Copenhagen Cycles can quote you up-to-date prices and delivery dates directly.

Pilot Training: I am currently offering pilot-training to those who have got trishaws in the greater Dublin area. An initial option is for me to train new pilots using our demo bike ‘Daisy’ in Blackrock, and then those pilots can train others when they get their own trishaws. We will need to train other pilot-trainers to cover the rest of Ireland. If you can help with this, please let me know.

 

EPA Climate Change figures climb again – No political will in sight

In December 2015, Ireland along with nearly 200 other nations signed up to its commitment to do our full and fair share to ensure carbon emissions are reduced in line with the advice from science so that global warming does not irreversibly destabilise the world’s climate system.

Actions, however, speak far louder than words. As data produced today by the Environment Protection Agency confirm, instead of the required sharp reductions, Irish greenhouse gas emissions instead climbed in 2016, to the equivalent of 61.1 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO₂), the highest level since before the economic crash.

In just the last two years, total national emissions have increased by 7.3% or 4.16 million tonnes of CO₂. Ireland is legally mandated by the EU to reduce national emissions by 20% by 2020. By comparison, Scotland has already achieved its far more ambitious 2020 emissions target cut of 42%, and achieved these five years ahead of target.

“There is no magic involved. The missing ingredient in Ireland is political will and the backbone to stand up to the special pleading of well-funded lobby groups”, according to John Gibbons, An Taisce’s Climate Change Committee spokesperson. He continued “Ireland has among the best average wind speeds in Europe, yet the share of wind energy on the grid actually declined by nearly 2% last year, while there was an overall increase of 3.8% in the emissions intensity of power generation.”

Ireland’s shambolic transport sector has recorded its fourth straight year of emissions growth, adding 3.7%, or nearly half a million tons of additional CO₂ in 2016 versus the previous year. The other price of this failure is ever-worsening traffic gridlock as the excessively car-dependent transport model inevitably leads to congestion, inefficiency and chaos. The ongoing neglect of cycling and public transport is fuelling this national transport debacle.

Agriculture and transport together accounted for almost three quarters of Ireland’s entire EU 2020 target sector non-ETS emissions in 2016. Since 2011 agricultural sector emissions have increased by +10.2%, contrary to the misleading media talking points being recently repeated by agri lobbyists. Last year, agricultural emissions rose by the equivalent of over half a million tonnes of CO₂. This followed a 6.2% increase in dairy cow numbers and a 4% increase in milk production. For 2017, the quantity of nitrogen fertiliser used is already known to be up by 12%, which will push agri-sector emissions even higher than in 2005, the reference year for a 20% ‘Non-ETS’ reduction by 2020.

Dairy and beef production are both highly emissions-intensive, and today’s EPA data proves that the industry spin about ‘efficiency’ and ‘carbon neutrality’ is all just hot air. There is no effective way of reducing Irish agriculture’s massive emissions profile without tackling the root cause of these emissions: ever more, fertiliser-boosted grass fed to ever more cattle results in ever more climate pollution. Controlling beef and dairy emissions requires a production cap or a price on agricultural emissions so that efficiencies can actually be realised.

This underlines the findings of an EU study published in April this year that found Irish agriculture to be the least ‘climate-efficient’ in the entire EU28. Ireland produced the highest level of greenhouse gas emissions per euro of agricultural output, the study concluded.

“Governments come and governments go, but CO₂ lingers in the atmosphere for decades to centuries. Increasing agricultural methane and nitrous oxide emissions greatly increases Ireland’s responsibility for near-term climate warming. The decisions we take and fail to take today will have long-term implications for our children and their children. True sustainability means providing for our needs today without compromising the needs of future generations. Ireland is today stealing from the future, calling it growth and leaving a toxic legacy to all future generations”, according to John Gibbons.

He continued “We as a nation are better than this. The recent Citizens’ Assembly recommendations proved that the Irish public is prepared to back strong action to tackle climate change, but these shocking pollution figures from the EPA show Ireland’s citizens are being shamefully betrayed by its political and business classes for short term gain.”

Tralee to Fenit Cycleway/ Walkway

This event will take place exactly a year after the last public event, a year which has seen little progress on the project yet again !

It is also 6 years since the first public support walk in 2011, this time we are calling on people to get on their bikes to demand the development of important facility.

Meet at Saint Brendan’s church Rock Street for a 2.30 departure for cycling leisurely cycle to Mounthawlk and back.

This is a family friendly event for young and old and all abilities but if you don’t fancy cycling please come along and walk.

Spread the word and lets make the greenway happen, hopefully next year we can cycle to the beach.

More information

Great Southern Trail Christmas Walk & Railway Book

The  annual Christmas Walk along the Great Southern Trail Greenway will take place on Wednesday 27th December at 12.30p.m.. Assembly is at the newly opened Longcourt House Hotel (formerly the Courtenay Lodge), St. Mary’s Road, Newcastle West. The hotel is on the N21 and the public bus services stop alongside it. Walkers will be transferred by courtesy coach to Barnagh from where they will walk the 6 miles[10km], all downhill and mostly along the old railway, back to the Longcourt House where they can enjoy seasonal mince pies, whipped cream and tea/coffee at their leisure. All walkers must wear visibility vests as the final section is through the streets of Newcastle West and involves crossing the busy N21 which must be crossed at the zebra crossing close to the hotel. Cyclists, with visibility gear, helmets and lights, are also welcome and we suggest that they also meet at the hotel at 12.30p.m. and cycle outwards along the Greenway for approximately one hour to Barnagh or beyond and then return in time to enjoy the refreshments. Beidh fáilte roimh gach éinne ar an lá.

As Christmas is coming a nice gift to oneself or to family/friends would be the  Great Southern Trail Limited’s newly published “Limerick & Kerry Railway: Twilight Years” by Liam O’Mahony which is laden with information about the Greenway’s railway history. It is not alone a personal memoir by Liam of the 1950’s to 1980’s railway finale but also reproduces several historic documents. These include a list of the 300 or so shareholders (many of which names are still to be found locally) in the Rathkeale & Newcastle Junction Railway Company which built the line to those towns 150 years ago. Another historic gem which is included is a chapter from “Through the Green Isle”; a Victorian era travel guide which extolled  the historic attractions of Adare, Askeaton, Foynes, Ballybunion and Ardfert along with the then newly operational Lartigue railway in Listowel. Liam’s book is  very well illustrated with thirty of the photographs being in colour. Twenty full colour railway posters advertising  excursion trains to Dublin, Thurles, Cork, Killarney, Knock Shrine and Listowel Races during the 1950’s to the 1970’s will bring back memories to many.

Copies of the book will be delivered throughout all of Ireland for €15 (inc.postage). Orders from all of Britain will be £17stg  and  from all other countries €20 due to overseas postal rates. The book has 187 pages including a 32 page colour section. It is 170mm x 240mm format, soft cover. Enquiries to Liam O’Mahony, 9, Bishop St., Newcastle West, Co.Limerick V42HT66, Ireland to whom cheques should be made payable[or phone/text 00353876471956]. If payment by Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) is preferred please email your name and address to [email protected] and you will be provided with the bank BIC and IBAN. Please remind the bank to include your name on the EFT.

“Stop Killing Cyclists” – Vigil & Demonstration

In the past week two more people have lost their lives while cycling on roads in Ireland, bringing the total number of cyclists killed in 2017 to 14*. That is *four more than were killed in all of 2016, and it makes 2017 the deadliest year for cyclists in more than a decade. The number of people who cycle who have been seriously or fatally injured is available at the Road Safety Authority

The members of each of our groups are sick and tired of the silence and inaction by government, both local & national, when it comes to cyclists’ safety. We have been calling for increased funding and resources for cycling and for the Garda Traffic Corps, so as to increase the member and officer complement from its present low of approx. 700 to a strength of 1,200, but those calls have fallen on deaf ears, and cyclists continue to be killed as a result.

Just yesterday we had a report on Facebook of a club cyclist clipped by an overtaking vehicle while out on a club spin. It was yet another hit-n-run caused by dangerous overtaking, which is a statutory offence covered by the Fixed Penalty-Points regime. However we never see any statistics published by An Garda Síochána to show how many FCNs are issued for this offence. We need this vital data. There is silence and inaction from the key government ministers – Minister Ross (Transport) & Minister Flanagan (Justice) – who hold responsibility for road safety and policing, respectively.

Colm Ryder (Chair of Cyclist.ie) stated: “The number of cyclists dying on our roads is growing, while other vehicle casualties drop.  This government needs to invest in cycling to protect vulnerable road users from these increased tragic losses of life.  Our thoughts are with the two most recent casualties, who came from both ends of the age spectrum.  This trend needs to be reversed, and can only be reversed by the Government making the right decisions and investing more in active travel.  MAKE CYCLING SAFE!”

Dr. Paul Corcoran (Chair of Dublin Cycling Campaign) stated that “the number of vehicle fly-parked in the mandatory-use cycle tracks on the streets of our capital, and right across the land in urban areas, during their period of operation is unacceptable. Illegally parked vehicles force cyclists out into the fast-moving traffic-stream putting riders at increased risk of being hit. They are not an aid to doing business”.

Clara Clark of Cycling Without Age, www.cyclingwithoutage.ie, “asks all road planners and users to respect and look out for cyclists on all our roads. We want Cycling Without Age trishaw trikes to become an accepted form of mobility for our older and mobility-impaired citizens. Cycling offers sustainable and healthy travel to all. Motorists need to recognise and allow space and for safe overtaking, safe road use, particularly at junctions, and parking for cyclists. We call on government and local authorities to consult with cyclists and cyclist groups when planning and upgrading new road layouts. For example, Cherrywood in south Dublin new road proposals offer unrealistic and bicycle-unfriendly junction options”.  

Stephen McManus for IBIKEDublin says: “Death by car should never become normalised in a society that cares for its people. Thirteen parents, children, partners, siblings have been killed while cycling to work, school or while just out going about their lives.
The state must act immediately and make infrastructure safer for pedestrians and cyclists to avoid further deaths.
The Dáil must also pass the Minimum Safe Distance Passing Bill into law immediately.

We must all remember that roads are primarily designed to facilitate the movement of people. The people who choose the most dangerous mode of transportation must carry the most responsibility for the safety of other road users.
Every death is one too many.”

Phil Skelton of ‘Stayin Alive at 1.5’ says: “Many motorists are simply not aware of the rights of bicycle riders and the challenges they face in navigating a road system designed primarily for motor vehicles, underpinning a stubborn prejudice that bicycle riders are “rogue” road users.

While bicycles are defined as vehicles, and given similar rights to cars when on the road, they face disproportionate vulnerability
The Stayin’ Alive at 1.5 campaign, has made use of social media, various awareness videos, vehicle signage, safety campaigns, press releases etc. to ask motorists to “give space” to bicycle riders.  The RSA has been active in this area too, but this has been ongoing with cyclists for some time now and and although has some positive effect it doesn’t reach the target audience we need to engage, those who are might view people on bicycles as road furniture, as an inconvenience, which needs to be overtaken hastily and at the first opportunity. those unwilling to take on the message or dismissive of vulnerable road users altogether.
Introducing a minimum passing distance law would be a significant and progressive step in changing the focus on sharing the road”.


This Tuesday, 21st of November, we are joining forces as #Cyclist.ie #IBikeDublin, #StayingAliveat1.5, #DublinCyclingCampaign and #Cyclingwithoutage to let the Government know that the issue of cyclists’ safety can no longer be ignored.

Join us from 5.30pm as we hold a vigil in memory of the people killed while cycling on Irish roads.

Further information

  • Colm Ryder: 087-237 6130
  • Stephen McManus: 089-977 5896
  • Phil Skelton: 086-811 4118
  • Paul Corcoran: 086-103 5617