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General news about cycling

NTA Makes Dog’s Dinner of Cycle Quality

The NTA have made a dog’s dinner of cycle facility quality. Yes they are concerned about quality and yes they refer to it in the National Cycle Manual but does anyone outside the NTA really understand it?

When people are booking a hotel or apartment, they have an understanding of the ‘Star’ system of ranking. They may not understand the difference between a 2 star and 3 star hotel but they understand that a 3 star hotel is more luxurious or offers better facilities than a 2 star one and they would expect to pay more for it (all other things being equal).

So what is the story with the quality of cycle facilities? There are five levels of service – A+, A, B, C and D. Any cycle facility which does not fall into the first four is category D. Width is one of five determinants of quality the other being number of conflicts, percentage of HGVs on the route, pavement condition and journey time delay. (There has been some modification to pavement condition as a result of the development of the Greater Dublin Cycle Network but the amendments have not been incorporated into the written or digital version of the Manual.) Width is by far the most important determinant so what does the Manual say about width and level of service? The Manual assesses width in terms of the number of adjacent cyclists as shown below.

 

Quality of Service

No of Adjacent Cyclists

A+

2+1

A

1+1

B

1+1

C

1+0

D

1+0

 

So is the width of Level C the same as Level D? And is the width of Level A the same as Level B? What width is necessary to achieve category A? In Section 1.5.2 of the Manual, there are references to widths of five cycling regimes but the Manual does not state if the cycling regimes corresponds to the Level of Service, and furthermore the exact meaning of different regimes is unclear and open to interpretation. For example what does basic two way mean? It can mean whatever you want.

Section 1.5.1 of the Manual Determining Width includes the following The designed width of a cycle facility is comprised of the effective width, i.e. the space that is “usable” by cyclists, as well as the clearances that will be required in different circumstances.

Effective width as opposed to designed or constructed width is a very important concept as it takes edge conditions into account. This is important as local authorities often provide a 2m wide cycle track which with a kerb adjacent to the footpath on one side and another kerb adjacent to a traffic lane on the other, only has an effective width of 1m.

To make matters worse, the minimum standard is defined as 3m, but whether this is effective width or designed/constructed width is not clarified and it does not define whether this is one way cycling shared with two way pedestrians or two way cycling shared with two way pedestrians. As 3m is the minimum standard in accordance with the National Cycling Manual, it is assumed that the level of service for cycling is the fifth and lowest category ie D. Then, just when you think that the NTA couldn’t complicate things further, they succeed.

In 2015, they published a Permeability Best Practice Guide which also has five levels of service but in this case they are A,B,C, D and E.

Section 3 of the Guide defines widths for the different Quality of Service (see below) but doesn’t define whether these are effective or constructed widths.

 

Quality of service

Minimum Width (m)

A

4m+

B

3-4m

C

2-3m

D

1.5-2m

E

<1.5m

 

The Best Practice Guide states that local authorities in urban areas should aim to provide a Level A quality of service for any pedestrian or cycle links between residential areas and destinations such as schools and shops. Not unreasonably, the document goes on to point out that Level A will often be unachievable due to constraints but at least sets out a high target.

So where does that leave the common situation that arises where one section of a route has segregated cycle facilities and the next section has a 3m wide shared footway? Using the permeability criteria, the shared section is ranked category B and C (second and third) but using the National Cycle Manual criteria, it is D (fifth). What would you think of an organisation which ranks a hotel as one star, three star and four star at the same time? The idea of a star ranking is good. It gives politicians and the general public a crude but widely understood assessment of quality. However, the time to properly define its use is long overdue.

This article originally appeared on the website of Maynooth Cycling Campaign.

Ironic that the NTA HQ features a vehicle parked outside on the pavement

Cycling Needs €145 Million Per Annum – Not Hype & Spin

Since Census 2016 published the report on commuting in June, there has been much hype and spin in the media about increases in cycling. However, the emphasis on a much lauded increase of 42% in cycling to work puts a false gloss on the results. Percentage changes are meaningless unless related to a time span and a starting point so the Department of Transport’s spin doctor should stop combining multi year results and instead report the results in terms of annual increases. In this case the time span is five years from the previous census and the 2016 level of cycling nationally is an overall low of 2.68%. As this was approximately the level of cycling in the year 2000, cycling nationally has essentially flat-lined since then.

Year

1986

1991

1996

2002

2006

2011

2016

On foot

505,530

454,126

436,941

423,483

433,110

414,938

426,221

Bicycle

146,962

130,194

99,008

57,842

53,960

61,177

82,123

Bus, minibus or coach

323,914

337,788

369,586

341,299

326,949

288,562

313,097

Train, DART or LUAS

22,690

30,214

34,101

45,976

71,658

70,976

82,627

Motor cycle or scooter

16,680

13,756

13,164

20,250

14,338

9,312

8,565

Motor car: Driver

405,180

446,228

606,417

909,822

1,118,312

1,127,396

1,202,441

Motor car: Passenger

264,125

292,503

360,953

427,962

459,497

508,338

570,254

Other means (incl. Lorry or van)

36,239

50,188

59,291

118,800

149,928

134,115

140,227

Work mainly at or from home

196,982

234,101

172,893

110,821

119,918

89,729

96,057

Not stated

108,579

94,287

83,981

45,380

46,555

89,590

136,995

Total Students/Workers

(Rows 1-10)*

2,026,881

2,083,385

2,236,335

2,501,635

2,794,225

2,794,133

3,058,607

Total Commuters (Rows 1-8)

1,721,320

1,754,997

1,979,461

2,345,434

2,627,752

2,614,814

2,825,555

%Commuting by Car (Rows 6-8)

40.99%

44.95%

51.87%

62.10%

65.75%

67.69%

67.70%

%Cyclists wrt Total Commuters

7.25%

6.25%

4.43%

2.31%

1.93%

2.19%

2.68%

Source: Census 2016

Table 1: Means of Travel to Work, School and College (Nationally) 1986-2016

The increase in cycling from 2.19% in 2011 to 2.68% in 2016 is an increase of 22.6% for all people working and in education rather than the headline figure of 42% which only refers to people working. This increase equates to a more modest increase of 4.15% per annum. This would be good for a country with a high level of cycling but bad for a country like Ireland which is starting from a very low base. The increase in cycling by working people offsets a more modest increase in cycling by students to secondary school who are arguably a more important sector of the population as they are an indicator of future levels of cycling rather than ‘middle aged’ men in lycra who rediscover cycling. In this context, the greater number of female students driving to secondary school rather than cycling is a continuing cause of concern. By way of contrast, Vancouver reports annual increases of more than 30% per annum and Transport for London (TFL) report that bicycle use increased by 70% in six months on part of the high quality London Superhighways.

While the level of cycling in Dublin and other Irish cities is higher than the national level of 2.68%, Vancouver achieved 10% cycling to work from a low base in 1997 and Seville has increased its modal share for cycling from less than 0.5% in 2006 to around 7%. The National Cycling Policy Framework includes a target of 10% commuting by bike by 2020. At the rate of progress of the last five years in Ireland, the 2020 target will not be achieved nationally until 2047. This is the key statistic which comes out of the Census results and with the hype and spin stripped away, the lack of commitment and lack of progress is obvious. The implications for urban areas – more congestion, more air and noise pollution, decreased levels of activity by the general population and increased demands on the health services – are all too obvious. The failure to meet European targets on climate change will almost certainly result in a greater financial burden on the country.

Irish politicians have been “supporting” pro-bicycle policies for some twenty years but their continuing ineffectiveness is clear. When politicians in the Netherlands decided to design for bicycles rather than cars in the 1970s, the change was apparent within a year with the BBC sending a camera team overseas to record the radical developments. For similar change to happen in this country, the government must

  1. Significantly increase funding for cycling from its current levels of €12 Million per annum to €145 Million per annum, and
  2. Appoint a National Cycling Co-coordinator to the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport in accordance with the 2009 National Cycling Policy Framework.

A budget of €145 Million for cycling would amount to 10% of the 2017 transport budget and would be in line with WHO recommendations. This funding is already available under the normal budgetary process and is entirely separate from the Mid-Term Review of the Capital Budget but to date there has been no commitment at a political level to prioritise the funding of walking and cycling. The emphasis on rural greenways may seem attractive to politicians but unless hard political decisions are taken to curb private cars and to prioritise cycling in urban areas, mass cycling will remain like the draining of the Shannon – a political aspiration. In the short term, the lack of political reaction to increasing cyclist fatalities and the postponement of decisions on safe cycling infrastructure in Dublin City do not augur well.

Great Dublin Bike Ride


It was terrific to see so many out on the Great Dublin Bike Ride last weekend organised by Cycling Ireland. We hope that the increased numbers taking part in Sportifs is translating – and continues to translate – into more and more people seeing cycling as the best way to commute in towns and cities. But not just commuting of course – we maintain there is HUGE potential for far more trips to the shops, GAA / soccer / rugby matches and training sessions, and night-time cultural events (for example) to take place on the bike! We are only just beginning to crank up our campaigning.

See also DCC Facebook & lots of pictures here

Pre-Budget 2018 submission from Cyclist.ie

Cyclist.ie (www.cyclist.ie), the network of cycling advocacy groups, greenway development groups, and bicycle festivals on this Island, makes this Pre-Budget Submission 2018 in the interests of the Budget supporting and encouraging more active travel on a daily basis by Irish citizens, in line with the aims of the government’s ‘National Cycle Policy Framework’ (2009), ‘Smarter Travel’ (2009) and in the process improving general population health via
the ‘Healthy Ireland’ strategy (2016). Read full submission

Cycling without Age

‘Cycling Without Age’ is a member group of Cyclist.ie. We received this update from Clara Clarke.

We thought you might like a brief update on our progress since we had the national launch on 13 June in Dun Laoghaire.  Our sincere thanks to CWA founder Ole Kassow who came from Copenhagen, and to the DLR Cathaoirleach Cormac Devlin for ‘launching’ us. Thanks also to the Irish Ambassador to Denmark, Cliona Manahan, and to the Cultural Officer of the Danish Embassy in Dublin, Eva Rauser. Our passengers on the day were Ernie and Phyllis from Ashbury Nursing Home, Deansgrange, who quickly became celebrities!

People travelled from all over Ireland to see the bike and be part of this amazing new initiative. We have had massive media publicity both on the day and since, with radio interviews continuing. We now have three confirmed companies willing to sponsor bikes and donate them to nursing homes of their choice, with several other companies talking to us. The first sponsored bike arrived in Dublin last week. Companies will send their staff to be pilots as part of their CSR (corporate social responsibility) programmes. And what a fun way to be doing your CSR! Taking residents out for spins, chatting and sharing stories and all feeling the wind in their hair! And, if you think that cycling might be too much for older people, take a look at the ‘Convoy’ photo attached. On our trip to Denmark last week to visit Cycling Without Age there, we took a convoy of 15 rickshaw bikes with quite frail nursing home residents out for an all-day 40 km cycle – and they loved it! So, age is no limit and we just want to give as many people as possible the fun and freedom experience of Cycling Without Age.

Open Letter to Minister Shane Ross

Eight Cyclist Fatalities in 2017, to mid-May

Cyclist.ie – the Irish Cycling Advocacy Network, of which Dublin Cycling Campaign is a lead member, wrote to Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Shane Ross T.D. today seeking a meeting. The letter responds to the death of eight people riding their bikes on Irish public roads thus far in 2017. The text of the letter is below (and PDF below bottom).


Monday 22 May 2017

Dear Minister Ross,

I refer to my previous letter of 16 June 2016 and to my Cyclist.ie colleague Dr. Mike McKillen’s letter of 03 October 2016.

I am writing to you again on the matter of cyclist safety but, this time, after eight of my fellow cyclist citizens have been mowed down and killed by motor vehicles in 2017 – and it is only mid-May. In 2016 a total of 10 people riding their bikes lost their lives. The carnage can and must be halted!

There is something fundamentally wrong with our system and culture when the lives of mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, and sons and daughters are extinguished – at a rate of more than one per month – while they are engaging in a healthy activity that is promoted as government policy.

On behalf of those who use bicycles, both for everyday transportation/utility trips, and for recreational/tourism use, I am calling on you as the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport to make – as a matter of urgency – a serious intervention before any other person on a bike loses their lives. We need leadership at this point to bring a halt to the death and misery inflicted by the utter dominance of motor vehicles on Irish roads.

As pointed out in our previous letters, your Department’s National Cycle Policy Framework (NCPF) of 2009 has all but been set-aside. All we hear about (for the last 2 to 3 years) is “an upcoming review” of same – with nothing forthcoming. Your department still has no National Cycling Coordinator in post, a basic pre-requisite for advancing a multi-faceted policy framework and a specific action of the NCPF (Objective #17.1). The promised National Advisory Forum has still not been established (Policy #17.2).

Furthermore, and to exacerbate these shortcomings, active travel is downgraded in the National ‘Building on Recovery’ Plan to a mere 1% of the proposed transport expenditure, despite the NCPF commitment of ‘adequate and timely funding’ (Chapter 4). This 1% figure compares very poorly to our European neighbours and to the UN recommended level of 20% of transport funding to go on non-motorised / active travel modes [1].

I am pleading with you to show real leadership in procuring a paradigm shift in how those who use active and healthy travel modes are treated on Irish public roads and, consequently, in how transport funds are spent. We strongly commend your support for lower vehicle speeds and for lower alcohol limits for drivers, but the parallel issue here – and the giant elephant in the room – is the need for transport to decarbonise and hence for capital expenditure on transport to switch away from endless demand-inducing road building and, instead, shift to investment in public transport, walking and cycling.

We would like to meet with you at the earliest possible date to discuss our concerns over the present level of cycling deaths, the need for adequate funding and resources, and the very real and relatively quick benefits to be gained from increased investment in cycling, as outlined in the NCPF.

I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Yours sincerely

Dr. Damien Ó Tuama
National Cycling Coordinator, Cyclist.ie – the Irish Cycling Advocacy Network
Vice-President, European Cyclists’ Federation