Category Archives: International Posts

Cycling Column: The economic benefits of cycling lanes – to Kildare

The following isn’t going to please the reactionary alternative facts crowd, because, you know, it’s facts.

One of the most common arguments against eliminating parking spaces in favour of cycling lanes is that it damages businesses.

The people behind those arguments are dead right. There will be an impact on business, except that it’s the opposite of the one they have in mind.

As the late great Christopher Hitchens observed once: “That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence.”

There is no available evidence that replacing parking spaces with cycling lanes reduces trade. But there is, thankfully, evidence that removing parking spaces actually increases trade by attracting pedestrians and cyclists. A new study of a neighbourhood in Toronto has proven this.

Read article

Minister Brings Action Plan on Climate Pollution to Cabinet

Minister Naughten has announced he is bringing Ireland’s first plan to cut climate pollution in 10 years to Cabinet today. Publication of the draft National Mitigation Plan and the launch of a public consultation is expected within days.

The new action plan is a successor to the National Climate Change Strategies of April 2007 and October 2000, and the CO2 Abatement Strategy of June 1993. However, Irish greenhouse gas emissions that drive climate change are higher now then they were at the time of the first plan in 1993. This is despite the National Policy Position on Climate Action which sets a national objective of cutting CO2 emissions by 80% by 2050 and capturing all our agricultural emissions by planting more trees and restoring our peatland bogs.

Stop Climate Chaos, the civil society coalition campaigning for Ireland to do its fair share to tackle climate change, has today published “Five Tests to for Ireland’s draft National Mitigation Plan“.

5 Tests for Ireland’s climate action plans

  1.   Does the new plan add up to doing our fair share?
  2.   Does it start the phase out of fossil fuels?
  3.   Does it ramp up renewable energy and kick-start community ownership?
  4.   Does it put agriculture on a path to carbon neutrality?
  5.   Does it realign transport investment to reduce emissions?

The full 5 tests briefing document can be downloaded here.

Commenting, Cliona Sharkey, Trócaire Policy Officer and a spokesperson for the coalition said:

“Ultimately the plan needs to demonstrate Ireland is preparing to deliver not only on its EU targets, but also on the even more ambitious action agenda set out in the Paris Agreement. If we fail to meet our EU targets we will face significant fines.but if we fail to deliver on the Paris Agreement, we invite climate catastrophe with devastating consequences across society, the environment and the economy.”

The Paris Agreement commits Ireland and all the other parties to the treaty to hold: “the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.”.

Unfortunately, Ireland is a persistent laggard – not a leader. According to latest figures, Ireland’s current emissions are 6.6% above 1990 levels, and emissions increased by 3.7% in 2015. Ireland, with the 8th highest emissions per person in the OECD, is one of only two countries in the EU which will overshoot its 2020 targets for emissions reductions.

Ireland needs to immediately embark on a rapid and just transition to a carbon-free future. Both the EPA and the new Climate Change Advisory Council describe what is required as “a major societal and economic transformation”. Ireland’s last action plan on climate was launched in 2007 – by the then Minister for the Environment, Dick Roche – and expired in 2012. The Advisory Council is clear the new National Mitigation Plan should not just focus on our EU targets for 2020 and 2030 but “should outline the roadmap to achieve the 2050 national objective”. That objective, set out in the National Policy Position on Climate Action, is an 80% aggregate emissions reduction between the buildings, energy, and transport sectors, and carbon neutrality in agriculture.

Under the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act, which became law on December 10th 2015, Minister for Climate Action, Denis Naughten TD, is obliged to submit a final action plan on how Ireland will cut climate pollution (called the National Mitigation Plan) to Government by 10th June 2017.

A BIG thanks to Trek

A sincere thanks to the distributors of Trek bicycles in Ireland for their generous donation to Cyclist.ie to support our work.
Centro are the latest of the Irish bicycle companies / importers to see the logic in supporting organised cycling advocacy so as to move cycling up the political priority list.
Trek president John Burke has long maintained that the bicycle industry should divert cash from marketing and R&D to help advocates and politicians create a bicycle friendly worldHear hear!
Worth checking out their website and some of the progressive cycling projects in various parts of the world they are supporting. Fair play to them!

The Bike Wars Are Over, and the Bikes Won

When I accepted Mayor Bloomberg’s offer to become Transportation commissioner, I told him I wanted to change the city’s transportation status quo. The DOT had control over more than just concrete, asphalt, steel, and striping lanes. These are the fundamental materials that govern the entire public realm and, if applied slightly differently, could have a radical new impact. I saw no reason why New York couldn’t become one of the world’s great biking cities — or why it wouldn’t want to. But the act of actually achieving it launched the bitterest public fight over transportation in this city since Jane Jacobs held the line against Robert Moses’s Lower Manhattan Expressway half a century earlier. By the time the fight localized — in October 2010, when police attempted to control hundreds of dueling protesters for and against a new bike lane along Prospect Park — The Brooklyn Paper called the proposal “the most controversial slab of cement outside the Gaza Strip.” Read article

See also: Inside the Story of How Cycling Changed New York

China Cups and Butterflies; Options and Ethics

Vulnerability and risk. Statistics and ethics. Solutions or fixes. Top-down interventions or individual actions. These are the core issues in the long-running bike-lane (or cycle track)-versus-integration argument and in the book Antifragile by Nassim Nicholas Taleb (better known for his previous book, The Black Swan). Antifragile is a long and complex read, but the author managed to summarize it while metaphorically standing on one foot: “Everything gains or loses from volatility. Fragility is what loses from volatility and uncertainty.” Read article