It’s 2021. And the cycle routes in Ireland are not yet good enough.
Too often the designs overlook key elements, which help to make routes safe and attractive.
Ordinary people like you, are not participating in the design process.
Cyclist.ie has a bold ambition to help solve both of these problems.
By creating one simple tool that can be used by designers to make sure every aspect of good design is included, and can also be used by people on bikes to meaningfully let those designers know what does or doesn’t work. Check out our CRAC page www.cyclist.ie/crac to find out more and to trial the tool.
NOMINATIONS ARE OPEN! 17th – 21st July In recognition of all the charities who work tirelessly to support the Climate and Environment, Benefact Group are giving 10 charities £5,000 each in this limited-time special draw. All you need to do is nominate a charity whose core charitable purpose is to protect and conserve the natural environment and/or combat climate factors such as preventing global temperature increase. Click here to nominate us. Search for ‘Dublin Cycling Campaign CLG’
Transport Emissions Continue in the Wrong Direction – Urgent Pivots in Policy, Practice and the Sponsorship of Media Programs Needed
Cyclist.ie is incredibly concerned by the latest data released by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that show transport as by far the worst performing sector in Irish society and the economy in terms of tackling its emissions.
The EPA’s data, as issued on 13 July 2023 (see  and  below), show that transport emissions increased by 6 per cent in 2022; transport’s emissions were 10.978 Mt CO2 eq in 2021 and this increased to 11.634 Mt CO2 eq in 2022. The EPA reports that “overall higher transport activity – both private cars and freight transport – is eroding the impact of electric vehicles.”
Cyclist.ie is deeply disturbed by the absence of real and urgent action in transforming our transport system so that we can enter a rapid period of decarbonising the sector. We know from our legally binding sectoral emissions ceilings that transport needs to halve its emissions from 12 MtCO2eq (2018 figures) to 6 MtCO2eq by 2030 . Furthermore, we are all acutely aware that the EPA’s figures have been released in the week that a heat wave is sweeping across parts of southern Europe, and temperatures are expected to surpass 40C (104F) in parts of Spain, France, Greece, Croatia and Turkey.  National Cycling Coordinator with Cyclist.ie and An Taisce, Dr. Damien Ó Tuama, stated “we are simply on the wrong trajectory with transport. At this point, emissions from transport need to be reducing every single year from here on in – not rising by 6% in a single year”. He continued:
“We need rapid action in multiple domains immediately. We need to be increasing further the spend on high quality active travel schemes and the ‘quick-wins’ with enhancing public transport provision. When are we going to see a halt to the domination of our airwaves by adverts urging us to buy ever-bigger Sports Utility Vehicles for our micro-urban trips? When are we going to have our most popular public radio and TV shows not sponsored by car companies with the evitable framing of ‘normal life’ as being characterised by owning super-sized 2000+ kg metal boxes?”
Cyclist.ie asks – “where are the political and business leaders articulating a vision of a low carbon future where one can lead a fulfilled life without owning climate destructive personal transport vehicles? Where is the moral leadership on all of this?” Cyclist.ie points to the leadership shown in Paris recently where city hall is to impose higher parking fees on owners of SUVs in its battle to reduce pollution in the capital . Vice-Chairperson of Cyclist.ie, Dave Tobin, added “We need similar policies introduced in Irish cities so as to completely rebalance how mobility happens. Without such urgent action, we are complicit in passing on a burning planetary ball to our children to deal with.” This is the opposite of the mature and responsible approach we now need.
Notes for Editors Cyclist.ie – the Irish Cycling Advocacy Network, which brings together 35 groups/branches around Ireland who are campaigning locally on cycling safety and promotion, is the organised voice for cycling advocacy in Ireland. It was founded in 2008, building on the campaigning work of its founding member groups, who themselves came into being in the early and mid 1990s in response to the virtual exclusion of cycling and walking from transport policy and practice, and to the massive danger posed to walkers and cyclists by the systematic growth in motorised mobility. https://cyclist.ie/
Just a month after the inaugural Erasmus+ gathering in Corella on the Generations Pedaling for Inclusion and Climate Action project, the second “Learning, Teaching and Training” gathering took place from 22 to 27 June 2023. It was hosted by Newtown School in Waterford city, with Karen Keogh from their teaching staff curating a diverse and brilliantly organised programme of activities.
In this article, four members of the Cyclist.ie team reflect on what was an action-packed trip spanning the themes of Social Inclusion, Climate Action, Intergenerational Relationships and Urban Cycling Promotion (and you can read more about the themes in our article from October 2022). Each of our four reporters – Denis, Allison, Jo and Hugh – cover one of the full days.
Just to note here that we were delighted that members of Dublin Cycling Campaign (DCC) came into the city to meet with the Spanish delegation for a convivial evening the night before the group travelled to the south east. And the Spanish visitors also managed to squeeze in an expert walking tour of Dublin, led by Martin Quinn (a member of DCC himself), before hopping on the coach to Waterford.
Martin Quinn (in blue) leading the walking tour of Dublin with the Spanish crew! (Photo credit – Chefly, Biciclistas de Corella)
As we have said previously, Cyclist.ie is proud to be part of this Erasmus+ project and to be forging strong relationships with the other six partner organisations from four EU countries.
Friday 23 June – Denis McAuliffe Many enjoyable events took place on the opening day, but what stands out to me was Keith Lemon, the Principal of Newtown School, welcoming us and officiating at the tree planting ceremony in the grounds of the school. Before planting the oak tree sapling, he said – “Wherever you may go and whatever you might do, remember that the mighty oak was once a nut too”, a saying that I have never heard before but worthy of recognition.
Tree planting in Newtown School with MEP Grace O’Sullivan (from Waterford herself) on hand to help out after delivering her welcoming words in the school hall (Photo credit – Chefly from Biciclistas de Corella)
This was followed by a walk from Newtown school to GROW HQ, an award-winning organic garden and working model of a sustainable food system – see here. While even though it rained on our way and on arrival, it was well worth the effort as we got to avail of an “all you can eat” in a three minute fresh organic strawberry picking and eating competition, a tour of the gardens, fresh scones, homemade red currant and strawberry jam, fennel and mint cordial and locally produced apple juice. Our tummies were well looked after and ready for our trip back to the school canteen where we were once again treated to lunch.
After lunch we had many more fun filled and educational events which my wife and daughter participated in and we were getting to know our Erasmus friends from Poland, Spain, Portugal and of course Ireland with the interactive based ethos of the programme.
Exploring GROW HQ (Photo credit – Chefly from Biciclistas de Corella)
For me the highlight of the day was the transition from Picasso to Viking – our final workshop of the evening was with the amazing team from Deise Medieval. This comprised a fantastic blend of activities and information, and a living history workshop. It was particularly nice to see my daughter Danielle so engaged, who by now had become a Viking warrior and during a Viking battle she managed to fight her way through no less than three waves of opposing warriors! One of the trainers in battle later mentioned to me that he wouldn’t want to meet her on a dark night (or should that be knight!?). It was indeed such an interesting way to finish off the first day of a well enjoyed and educational Erasmus experience. My daughter Danielle made many new friends and it was somewhat of an achievement being the oldest person on the trip and my daughter being the youngest – you could say that we covered both sides of the aging spectrum.
Deise Medieval with additional fierce Vikings drawn from the Cyclist.ie warrior group – Front row (R to L): Danielle McAuliffe (Great Southern Trail), Allison Roberts (Clon Bike Fest), Mary Sinnott (Waterford Bicycle User Group); Back row / standing (R to L): Jo Sachs Eldridge (Leitrim Cycling Festival), Denis and Catherine McAuliffe (Great Southern Trail), Siobhán McNamara (Dublin Cycling Campaign), Dave Tobin (Limerick Cycling Campaign), three of the Deise Medieval group, Chefly from Biciclistas de Corella, Damien Ó Tuama (Cyclist.ie), Hugh Raftery (Dublin Cycling Campaign)
The following days were filled from beginning to end with multiple trips and events of which, no doubt, my Cyclist.ie partners do justice in their own recording of their most memorable moments of their time spent in Waterford. Hopefully our paths will cross once again at another Cyclist.ie Erasmus educational event.
Saturday 24 June – Allison Roberts After breakfast everyone made their way into the city centre, and the students were divided into teams by country and given €50 per team to come up with outfits for an upcycling fashion show. Meanwhile the adults headed for the Waterford Medieval museum.
The Cyclist.ie Delegation! L-R: Mary Sinnott, Siobhán McNamara, Denis McAuliffe, Catherine McAuliffe, Dave Tobin, Olivia Tobin, Damien Ó Tuama, Hugh Raftery, Jo Sachs Eldridge and Allison Roberts
First up we were given headsets and got a bit of a history lesson via virtual reality. The VR program was called ‘King of the Vikings’ and I think everyone enjoyed the novelty of VR and graphics, but it may have been a bit hard to follow as it wasn’t available in Spanish or Polish or Portuguese, but I think we all got the gist! Much better was the tour that followed of the ‘Viking Triangle’ which is a very small block in the centre of Waterford.
A few facts that have stayed with me – Waterford is a very Georgian style city with a history of famous architects, the theatre being an example that has tall and wide doors to allow for top hats & hoop dresses. Reginald’s tower on the main waterfront was used as a cell for the drunk & disorderly. The large Viking sword sculpture crafted with a chainsaw was actually made in another county from a tree fallen in one of the big storms, and the sword is complete with tree roots.
After the tour we had a coffee and the first annual Brompton unfolding competition – Dave Tobin was pronounced winner with his double-handed flip being the move that clinched it.
Nervous entrants of the Brompton unfolding competition just seconds before starting
After lunch at the school everyone boarded the bus for Kilmurrin beach for beach clean up except Mary, Jo, Damien and I who wanted to get the bikes out for a spin. Mary led the way with her electric cargo bike (with dog Teddy along for the ride) followed by the three of us on our beloved Bromptons. It took a fair few hills to get out of Waterford and then we followed what would have been some lovely tree-lined narrow, windy country roads if it hadn’t been for the amount and speed of the motor traffic. Unfortunately a van decided to overtake us on a blind bend just as a car was coming from the opposite direction. The van swerved back in front of us as the car slammed on its brakes and swerved towards the ditch only to be rear-ended by another car behind it which was traveling at speed. Thankfully everyone was OK (the cars weren’t).
We set off again but Teddy (the dog) was itching to stretch his legs so we took a long-cut and walked our bikes through a lovely new park just outside of Dunhill. The Anne Valley Walk was developed as part of a plan to deal with wastewater from the town. It’s a beautiful walk through trees flanked by reed-bed ponds that are filtering the town’s wastewater.
When we finally made it to Kilmurrin Beach the sand circle art session was already underway, the plan being to recreate the Erasmus+ logo on the beach. The man running it was great and got everyone involved, making lines, tracing each other on the sand, doing slow-mo actions to be captured on the time-lapsed video. We also took a chance to have a dip and eat our packed dinners.
Around 7pm we all boarded the bus to head back to town where Pride celebrations were in full swing. Most of us adults stopped in at a patio for some drinks and food and the students had some free time in town before we all made our way slowly back to school for the night. All in all, a great day, weather and activity-wise, with the few of us who had witnessed (and been a bit too close to) the crash being reminded of why so many people don’t feel safe cycling on the roads in Ireland. Thankfully the next day we got to enjoy some much better infrastructure on the greenway.
Sunday 25 June – Jo Sachs Eldridge I loved the eclectic collection of activities that were put on for us. My main motivation for taking part was the opportunity to spend some time with the cycling crew – to have conversations in-person rather than online – but I wasn’t expecting to have so many new and wonderful experiences along the way.
The card workshop in the morning had some brilliant elements – it used plastic and other matter found on the beach and on completion the students all sat in rows facing each other where they ‘speed dated’ while describing their beautiful work of art. As the facilitator explained – often when we create something we don’t get a chance to really look at it or talk about it. Simple but brilliant.
The Charity Shop Fashion Show was also more impressive and entertaining than I expected. The students put huge effort into their themes and outfits. And the calibre of the judge – a sustainable fashion designer – added another level of appreciation to it all.
I had heard great reports of the Waterford Greenway over the years so I was really looking forward to this activity. And it didn’t disappoint. Kilometres of beautiful scenery – long, majestic coastal sections, acres of farmland and rich hedgerows – all with a smooth surface, plenty of width to chat and overtake and chicanes that would allow any (?) bike to navigate.
Hugh Raftery from the Cyclist.ie delegation enjoying the greenway!
The route also includes a number of viaducts and a magical fairy tunnel. Although my favourite bit was through the section of what felt like a tropical forest – shown here.
Even the thunder and lightning storms and heavy showers didn’t take away from the fabulous ride. Karen, the amazing coordinator, had also cleverly arranged for the last torrential downpour to happen while we stopped for lunch. Brilliant!
I did get a puncture along the way but luckily I had just passed the support van when it happened and later Damien patched it up for me – turns out he knows a thing or two about bikes! Thanks Damien!
We finished the day again with some good food and conversation.
All in all, it was a great opportunity to spend time with the gang, meet the other partners, explore Waterford and enjoy lots of Brompton nerdery.
Monday 26 June – Hugh Raftery After the workout on the Greenway cycle, we were delighted to have a relatively easy day on Monday. It started with a coach journey to Shanagarry, County Cork where we could rest and enjoy the scenery passing the window. Our destination was Ballymaloe.
First stop was Ballymaloe House. The hotel and farm have been operating using sustainable methods since the 1960s. The head groundskeeper, Tobias (pictured below), gave us a tour of the gardens and he explained how even small changes at home can make a big difference. We should all make some space in our gardens for nature, just leave it alone.
Next stop was Ballymaloe Cookery School. Our host was Lydia Allen. In the kitchens, we were shown how nothing goes to waste – all the ingredients are used to their fullest, an important lesson for home too.
Lydia brought us around the gardens to see where they have corridors for pollinators, and to see the veg growing in the greenhouses.
After Ballymaloe, we were back on the bus as there was a ceilí mór planned for the evening. We were not disappointed. To start us off, we had some interactive fun with the drama teacher. We were swapping chairs and testing our numeracy; a challenge and good fun at the same time. A surprise on the night was a quick lesson in sign language. We learnt to sign Somewhere Only We Know, with some help from Danielle for the lyrics. Danielle (age 10) was the youngest participant in the project, accompanied by her dad Denis, the most senior of the Cyclist.ie crew.
Denis and Danielle Mc Auliffe
We were then treated to some Irish dancing, performed by four local stars. The talent on display was a super finale. The dancers then lead us all on a few reels, showing us the steps, which we tried to follow. I was certainly out of my comfort zone but gave it a go anyway.
These four days have been a wonderful experience. I learned some tips for social media, shared some of my knowledge, and made some great friends. The activities were great fun, and informative too. I will be using some of the ideas learnt in the future.
A final reflection for me was that the availability of e-bikes for those less fit or experienced participants for the (40km+) greenway cycle was a real boon – it enabled delegates with different fitness levels to cycle alongside each other and chat and enjoy the amenity together.
Some Final Remarks – Damien Ó Tuama The Waterford leg of the Erasmus+ Generations Pedaling for Inclusion and Climate Action project was a wonderful success. The Cyclist.ie delegates got to spend some quality time with our Continental counterparts, but also with ourselves – a nice contrast from all of the Zoom meetings over the last few years. You can’t beat meeting up in person for plotting and scheming!
We wish to pay a special thanks again to Karen Keogh and all of the staff from Newtown School for the warm welcome and the fine programme of activities laid on for us.
We hope that Cristina (from Biciclistas de Corella) and Libia (from IES Estella) are back on track after their respective leg and ankle sprains incurred on the first day of the trip. We look forward to spending time with them and all of our new colleagues at the next Erasmus+ gathering which will take place in Azambuja in Portugal in October 2023.
Bike Week was, once again, another action-packed week of events for Cyclist.ie. Our local groups organised a wonderful array of events for all ages and abilities countrywide. A credit to everyone involved for all of their brilliant volunteering work in running events.
Below is just a sample of some of the events that Cyclist.ie’s groups ran over the course of the week in May.
Ideally we would like to see Bike Week replaced by Bike Month so that we avoid having so many totally amazing events clashing – we would like to be able to visit and support our cycle campaigning comrades in adjacent counties. This is something Cyclist.ie will be working on over the coming months.
If you have ideas for future Bike Week events, do please get in touch.
Cyclist.ie / National Level Focus events Starting with an event organised by the Cyclist.ie Executive Committee (and thanks, in particular to our Vice-Chairperson, Dave Tobin here!) and run in collaboration with the Oireachtas All Party Cycling Group, we were delighted to facilitate the annual Bike Week Cycle with Oireachtas staff, TDs and Senators on Tuesday 16 May 2023. Following photos at Leinster House, the group took part in an easy going group cycle on the streets encircling the Oireachtas Buildings.
Dublin Cycling Campaign Dublin Cycling Campaign volunteers helped at a host of events all across the four Dublin local authorities, as well as organising a couple of events themselves. Here are just a few highlights:
A lovely Sunset Cycle in Phoenix Park on the evening of Wednesday 17 May, organised by Dublin City Council, Fingal County Council, and the OPW. With the route closed to traffic, and fabulous tunes from I Bike Dublin, cyclists of all ages enjoyed a safe and relaxing spin around the Park.
Sandymount Community Cycle Bus cycle on Sunday 21 May, organised by Dublin Cycling Campaign and Educate Together Cycle Bus. About 120-150 people gathered in Sandymount Green after the event.
Pedalpalooza Parade on Sunday 21 May, a joyous parade through Dublin out to Ringsend Park for Pedalpalooza.
Clontarf History Tour by bike on Friday 19 May:
‘Bicycle Kicks 2.0’ on Saturday 20 May in association with Bohemians FC:
Also, Dublin City Council made a series of videos called ‘Why We Cycle’, one of which featured Chair of the Board of Dublin Cycling Campaign CLG, Mairéad Forsythe. The series is a vivid illustration of the diversity of people who cycle, and of the type of journeys they make. Watch here:
Skerries is now without a local bike shop, so as part of Bike Week 2023 this year SCI held its first pop-up bike repair session on 13 May at our Bike Shed (behind The Little Theatre), where we carried out repairs on eight bikes brought in by their owners on the day. We have also been working on bikes previously donated by Skerries residents which will be passed on to new owners. We want to develop a community bike workshop as a place to share bike repair and maintenance skills with those eager to learn such essentials as how to repair a puncture, fix the brakes and replace a worn-out chain.
On Saturday 20 May we had our community cycle, starting at Skerries Mills and finishing at the Seapole on Red Island. We were delighted that Stephen and Emma from Fingal Active Travel team could join us.
Several members of SCI have been trained as pilots for the trishaw and report that bookings are increasing as people get to know about this great free service.
Galway Cycling Campaign Galway Cycling Campaign organised several well attended and very innovative events over the course of Bike Week. Here is but a flavour of them!
We organised a Family Cargo Bike Festival in Claude Toft Park, Salthill on Sunday 14th May. The sun shone on everyone, and we had huge interest from young and not so young. There was face painting and lots of refreshments on offer.
Most importantly we had lots and lots of different types of cargo bikes for people to try and to admire.
Biking to the match to support the Tribesmen
On Sunday 21st May we organised a bike valet at Pearse Stadium for the Leinster Senior Hurling Championship clash between Galway and Antrim. Working closely with Galway GAA County Board and Galway City Council, racks for 50 bikes were installed within the stadium for supporters to use. There were volunteers on hand to guide spectators arriving by bike to the racks and to supervise bikes during the match.
By half-time the racks were overflowing – showing the huge demand among local hurling fans for secure, convenient cycle-parking at games. We distributed loads of prizes and treats to kids arriving by bike, the star of the show being “hurling clips” which enable kids to attach their hurls to bikes securely while cycling to training. Everyone had a great day, and the Galway hurlers won too!
Every year Leitrim Cycling Festival seeks to showcase the cycling potential and talented community of a different town or village in the county. But this year was a little different because, for the first time, a community has invited our roving festival to take over their town for a weekend of celebrations and cycling. And the community couldn’t have been more welcoming! We were so excited to share all of this with our festival goers.
L-R: Siobhán McNamara, Jo Sachs Eldridge and Dave Tobin
The weekend celebrations started on Friday 19th May with a lap of the town, followed by the official launch by Cathaoirleach Ita Reynolds and Sean O’Suillebhain in the Island Theatre. Following the launch everyone joined the feast and the screening of the film ‘Women Don’t Cycle’ documenting what it’s like to cycle in different countries as a woman. After the film there was an opportunity to enjoy the exhibition launch in Solas Art Gallery and a trad session in Shortts pub.
On Saturday 20th May there was a Dr. Bike Session and a Bicycle Haiku Workshop in the morning, followed by the 5km Integrated Community Cycle for All along the Greenway with a stop for a picnic and Jay Ryan’s amazing Flea Circus on the way. There was also free ice-cream at the end thanks to the Leitrim-West Cavan Branch of DSI.
On the Saturday afternoon a balance bike workshop was held, along with the sharing of inspiring cycle touring stories in Oman and fat-biking in Finland, plus art workshops, the annual slow bicycle race, woodfired Italian pizza, a games night for all the family and music in McGirls pub.
On Sunday 21st May there was another cycle for all with the Intergenerational Cycle along the Blueway to Aghoo. For those who continued on to Fenagh Visitor Centre there was free tea and scones. And for the closing tea there was Ukrainian sweet treats for all to share.
All events were free thanks to the generous sponsorship of Bike Week, Leitrim Sports Partnership, Leitrim County Council and Leitrim Tourism.
Leitrim Cycling Festival wishes to pay a special thanks to everyone who attended and enjoyed the events!
Meath – Navan Cycling Initiative Navan was full of cyclists of all ages on Sunday 14th when Navan Cycling Initiative held an ‘Intro to the Boyne Valley Lakelands County (BVLC) Greenway’ community cycle, showcasing Navan’s fantastic new greenway – see HERE. Organised as part of Bike Week 2023, over 70 participants cycled from Market Square in Navan town centre to the new BVLC Greenway, located on Ratholdren Road.
Assisted by Community Garda Frank Scully and the Navan Order of Malta (all on bikes), the cyclists made their way to the greenway and out to the old Gibbstown Station, with some venturing further to Wilkinstown. The group included young children, teenagers, families and pensioners on a mix of bicycles, e-bikes, trailers, cargo-bikes and hand-cycles, and a great day was had by all.
The Navan section of the new greenway was recently opened and is already proving to be extremely popular, with lots of walkers, cyclists, joggers and families all out enjoying it. When completed later this year, it will run for over 30km as far as Kingscourt.
Navan Cycling Initiative Chairperson Ed Moynihan said “it was great to see such a fantastic turnout for the cycle, as well as a huge number of Bike Week events happening all throughout the week. It really shows how popular cycling has become and we are seeing more and more people use the bike not only for recreation but also to beat the traffic and get around town. The past year has shown us that residents of all ages wish to use their bike to get to school or work, to shop or go to the gym, but to do this we need a safe and integrated cycle network, starting with safe access to the new greenway.”
We also held a Boyne Road/Greenway Loop evening cycle on Wednesday the 17th, which was a leisurely cycle along by the beautiful River Boyne and soon to be Boyne Greenway.
Monday, 15th May Clara Clark spoke about Cycling Without Age at the Pedal Vintage symposium “The Future of Cycling in Rural Ireland”, at Castle Durrow in Co. Laois. An impressive line-up of speakers from Co. Laois, including Laois Council, Laois Tourism, Active Travel, Portarlington Cycling Campaign, Durrow Community Family Bike Hub, and others. Cycling Ireland and Cycle Ireland Community Bike Rides, as well as Joan Swift of Cyclist.ie on Rural Cyclist Collective. Laois seems very committed to making active travel meaningful in the county.
Clara speaking at the Durrow Pedal Vintage Symposium, 15th May
Tuesday, 16th May: Cycling Without Age participated in a flotilla of bikes for a photo call and short cycle with politicians of all persuasions at the Dáil to promote Bike Week and Climate Change. This event was organised by Cyclist.ie and Limerick Cycling Campaign’s Dave Tobin, and was very well attended and promoted on social media by the politicians. See story above. Fingal Council, Dublin City Council, Dodder Valley Cycling and many other places with trishaws also participated in Bike Week events.
CWA joining with politicians for a Dáil cycle on 16th May
Sligo Cycling Campaign Sligo Cycling Campaign organised three events for Bike Week. On Sunday 14th May we kicked off Bike Week with a Pedal Parade along the bike route from Doorly Park to Clevergh Park where pedallers were able to join in the skills and drills activities organised by Sligo Sports Partnership.
On Wednesday 14th we held two events, each of which was a first for us. At lunchtime we took fifty 1st and 2nd class pupils from Scoil Ursula along with 18 parents on a school cycle, cycle bus style! There was wild excitement in the school yard and at the ice-cream stop in the park! The event was deemed a great success and a harbinger of what could happen when work on the Safe Routes to School / #SRTS has been carried out!
On Wednesday evening we did a biodiversity cycle, visiting Cranmore Community Garden to hear about and see gardening for biodiversity in action and then we took part in a foraging experience with Gaby Wieland of Neantóg Kitchen Garden. Cranmore made us very welcome as usual and it was lovely to hear new participants say “Oh, I often passed by here but never knew what goes on!” The foraging was a revelation! Who knew so many edible plants were growing on our doorstep or that wild herb pesto and hawthorn lemonade would be so delicious!
Dublin Community Garden Cycle 2023 Dublin Cycling Campaign and Dublin Community Growers hosted a leisurely cycle tour of some of Dublin’s wonderful community gardens.
Forty people took part in the cycle (we had to close registration early due to demand!). Both routes stopped off at four community gardens on the way where they were welcomed by the gardeners who showed them around and gave a talk on the garden itself.
These gardens are often on former building sites or waste ground, and to see the work these gardeners have put in over the years is truly inspiring.
The two routes converged at the Mansion House where the Lord Mayor, Caroline Conroy, who was also on the cycle, hosted us for refreshments.
Each route took approximately 2.5hrs (okay the Southside route was late – my bad) and was open to all cycling abilities.
Thanks to John O’Donoghue in Dublin Community Growers and the marshals from Dublin Cycling Campaign for a great day out
Here are some photos of the day:
Lord Mayor, Caroline Conroy and cyclists before heading off from the magical Santry Community Garden on Dublin’s northside
Cyclists getting ready for take-off from the recently established Raheny Community Garden on Dublin City’s northside
StillGarden, Inchicore – part of the StillGarden distillery. They use herbs from the garden to flavour their gin!
Flanagan’s Field, Dublin 8
Taplin’s Field, Dublin 8
Meeting up at Donnycarney’s hidden gem, Mucky Lane community garden
The new polytunnel at Raheny Community Garden
Another Donnycarney Mucky Lane photo
Participants in the Mansion House Garden. Tired but well fed and happy
Bikes And Bugs Parade (Dublin) Eamonn Ceannt Park, Crumlin, Dublin 12 2pm, Saturday 20th May 2023 (International Bee Day)
Celebrating the joys of cycling and the richness of biodiversity by dressing bicycles and riders up as bumble bees, grasshoppers, ladybirds and more, and cycling and walking all around Eamonn Ceannt Park.
There was a great buzz and every one of all ages from 12 months old to those young at heart, had a wheelie great time on the parade which was accompanied by I Bike Dublin’s sound system.
Thanks to The Bike Hub for hosting the making of many of the costumes and to volunteers from The Bike Hub, Cycling Without Age, I Bike Dublin, and Dublin Cycling Campaign.
The bugs and bikes in Sundrive Park!
Claire Anne Tobin, Organiser extraordinare The Green Roots Project
Naas Cycling Campaign The Naas Biodiversity Cycle was a fantastic event held in partnership with Naas Biodiversity Group. It comprised a leisurely cycle around the various projects that the Naas Biodiversity Group has been working on over the last few years.
The group ready to head off from Monread Park
After a pleasant park cycle, the group took to the Naas streets to reach the canal, before checking out a pocket forest and learning all about native hedge laying and a local community garden.
Areas visited included: – Monread Park, which is being managed for Biodiversity, by encouraging wildflower meadows with mown paths and fringes 🌸🌼 – 🌿A recently planted native Hedgerow in Monread – 🌿Naas Harbour with potential for biodiversity spaces, fruit trees and community growing
Checking out the pocket biodiversity spaces in Naas Harbour
🌿One of the Biodiversity Group’s Pocket Forests, planted at K-Leisure earlier this year, which was in need of a bit of weeding! 😉
🌿Community garden at Jigginstown Green
An amazing evening of fun, learning, community, connection and meitheal 💚💪🏻🌱
Katie Smirnova explains about managed meadows and no-mow May
Many thanks to Katie Smirnova for leading the cycle and providing information on the work being done by the Biodiversity Group.
Cork Cycling Campaign Cork Cycling Campaign delivered an ambitious programme of ten events across eight days, while catering for a wide variety of audiences.
Vice-Chairperson, Kevin Long, kicked off Bike Week in Cork with Wheel of Time: Cork A Cycling Cities Initiative. The photo exhibit took us back in time with a selection of images of Cork (& bikes!) down through the years.
Cycle to Zumba and Cycle to Yoga were enormous successes. With the support of Cork Sports Partnership and TFI Bikes in Cork, we hosted two wellness events for women with opportunities for people to pick up cycling for the first time in decades!
Cork Cycling Campaign focused on bringing the campaign, music and biking accessories to communities where cycling is re-emerging as a form of transport. Northside Cork City celebrated Bike Week with the campaign in Hollyhill and Mayfield and later in the week we were graciously hosted by Togher Community Garden.
On Wednesday, we visited the historic VQ where we hosted local business owners and, with thanks to City View Wheels, allowed people to take on the hills with eBikes! Over lunch, we discussed making bikes a key part of MacCurtain St. redevelopment.
On #5KFriday, Cork Cycling Campaign soaked in the sun with a musical cycle around Blackrock, concluding for coffee at the Marina Market.
On Saturday, we held the Wobbly Bike Show with Cork’s The Circus Factory – a wonderful hour of entertainment and picnic with bells for all!
Bike Week ended with a screening of Manon Brullard’s Women Don’t Cycle and Croatian delicacies and coffee to celebrate an extraordinary programme.
Throughout, we engaged with hundreds of Corkonians – novice cyclists and long-term members and plenty of people considering the shift to cycling! We were graced with wonderful weather, a willing group of volunteers and excellent support from Cork Sports Partnership and Cork City Council.
Athenry, Co.Galway – The Wheels of Athenry Athenry CycleFest took place on Saturday on the 13th of May in Athenry Town Park. There was bike bubbles and face painting for the younger kids, and a safe cycle around the park on their balance bikes and trikes on our Wee Wheelers cycle loop.
For bikes that have been in the back of the shed for too long, we had our experienced mechanic on hand to give it a Bike to Basics health check.
In the afternoon we had the 9th annual Athenry Pedal Parade – a leisurely spin around the streets of our historic town. There were prizes for the best dressed, decorated bike (winner of the much sought after Golden Tricycle!), and youngest participant.
For folk that didn’t have time to decorate their bikes beforehand, we had a Glam Your Bike station to make sure it looked the part for the parade!
We also had vintage bikes, the launch of the new Athenry Geo-Caching Cycling Hunt (located on our scenic cycle trails), A giant bike wheel, an information stand about a new Athenry Cycle Bus, cargo bikes, and specially commission cycle floats, banners, and wheel wind catchers hanging from the trees!
Over the last three years Athenry CycleFest has grown from 50, to 200, to nearly 500 people coming along! We hope it’s a sign of change for Athenry. We’ve lots of challenges… but even more opportunities.
More further information on and photos of events, see:
Poetry in Motion was a poetic pedal around the streets of Athenry – poetry to move you, with poems of love and nature and, of course, bikes!
For just over an hour, this group cycle took us on a journey around the streets of Athenry stopping along the way to read poems and verses that capture and heighten the spaces and places of our journey.
This cycle was designed to be suitable for an occasional or inexperienced cyclist.
For anyone who was inexperienced or had mobility issues, we had a six person ‘Spider Bike’ on hand to share the cycle.
We finished up with a provided picnic in the Town Park.
More further information on and photos of events, see:
Kinsale Loves Bikes Kinsale Loves Bikes held a community Kinsale Railway Hidden History cycle on Wednesday May 17th exploring local infrastructure relating to the Kinsale Railway which was decommissioned in the 1930s. Over 20 enthusiastic participants turned up on their bikes and cycled to various sites to learn about Kinsale’s railway history from local history enthusiast, Brian McCarthy. The cycle concluded with a social chat with tea and cakes.
Clonakilty Bike Circus With funding support from Cork County Sports Partnership, we kept Xmas Yard busy for all seven days of Bike Week. We offered free safety checks & minor maintenance on a walk-in basis all week long as well as trishaw spins on the Silver Bullet. Additionally, we offered a daily special event, typically a lunchtime chat, about subjects of current interest. This year we highlighted assistive cycling and our plan to offer free assistive cycling tutelage and equipment for use at the new Silver Bullet Depot at the Model Railway Village.
Special thanks are due to Yard Dogz Anthony, Bridget, Gonzalo, Graeme, Janet, Mick, Oscar, and Stephen all of whom lent a hand. Isaac and Bridget’s participation with their assistive tandem helped us highlight Clonakilty as autism friendly and underscored the Circus’s inclusiveness mission.
A more detailed report on the week’s events can be read here.
All Week: We offered free bike safety checks, free Silver Bullet lifts, and information about upcoming events all week long. We cleaned, adjusted, and serviced approximately forty bikes during the week, mostly children’s, but had one or two rambling cyclists who stopped in to top up their tyres and check their gear while passing through Clon. The Silver Bullet was out and running every day. I touted our courses and pressed printed literature into all open hands. Non cyclists stopped to admire our gardens and offer their thoughts on the state of cycling in Ireland today. We happily engaged these people and told them of our everyday cycling mission. I played my favourite role, cyclevangelist.
Saturday, 13/05 Family Picnic Group Cycle: This opening event was surprisingly successful. We had about twenty-four participants, at least one-third of whom were young children. We cycled out the Inchydoney Marsh Road and returned to Clonakilty’s Sensory Park at the Model Railway Village to eat and talk about family cycling. While there we walked around the site of our future Silver Bullet Depot discussing how best to present it to the public.
Monday, 15/05 – Wind In Your Hair – Assistive Cycling: Like all of the themed talks, this morphed into a day-long subject chat as people came and went into the Yard as they pleased, ignoring my well-planned schedule. Over the day, about two dozen people expressed interest and were given talking tours of the assistive cycles on display. There was considerable interest in the assistive tandem and in the hand cycle lent to us by their users. All six of the displayed bikes generated discussion of the right to ride a bike and use the public roads by everyone, even those who cannot ride a simple push-bike.
Tuesday, 16/05 – Randonnée, Born to Ramble: This was our least successful topic, perhaps because the true long-riders are a quiet kind of elite. Three or four people drifted in during the day and we talked about panniers, one-by gearing, and stealth camping. The topics were fun and the discussion lively, but we never achieved a group of more than one or two at a time. If we do this event in future it would need better promotion, perhaps by spotlighting a particular adventure cyclist, Isabell or Graeme. We have long riders in Clonakilty, but they’re shy.
Also on our topic plate on Tuesday was how to ‘pre-flight children’s bikes’ for safety. This, as previously mentioned, was a week-long task for our mechanics. However, about five groups drifted in with bikes to look at. Not-surprisingly, most of the safety issues identified were created by incompetent assembly of new bikes. This gave our mechanics an opportunity to grouse about cut-rate bike sellers.
Wednesday, 17 May – Bike Fabrication & Modification: This event brought out Brian, a local creative artist who works in bikes. Oscar and Graeme, our own mad welders, created a kind of critical mass with Brian and the day was dominated by spins on silly bikes, including two which appeared spontaneously, and our own toy penny-farthing.
Thursday, 18 May – Ebikes Explained & Critiqued: Power bikes aren’t the hot topic they were last year, but there is still plenty of interest. Of all our proposed topics, this one was the most diffused. However, over the Bike Week celebration, we had many engagements and, we hope, some of these helped increase understanding of the factors to consider in approaching an eBike purchase.
Literature of Cycling: Our afternoon foray into armchair wanderlust was great fun. In attendance was our local long-riding adventuress, Isabell, who has cycled the Wild Atlantic Way and, just to get here, cycled from Switzerland to Clonakilty.
Friday, 19 May – Keep on Bikin’: The event drew no takers on the scheduled hour but was popular all week drawing casual visitors including a few older people from Clon who have never before joined us. This pleased me as the senior demographic is notably lacking in the Bike Circus and in Clonakilty cycling.
Saturday, 20 May – Tour de Ville: To my surprise and delight this little event was very well attended. We had toddlers on draisines and even an old person (me) in the Silver Bullet. Cycling for everybody was a reality.
Retrospective: By my rough count, we had one hundred-fifty engagements over the week with a significant number of mothers with children and older people. Cargo bikes were of interest to the families and eBikes attracted the older people. The interest in bike fabrication, modification, and power-fitting was perhaps our strongest shop draw.
We serviced more bikes than anticipated, nearly exhausting our stores of cables, housing, and brake blocks. The Yard Dogzs were heads down and working most days. Thanks, gang. People were, of course, delighted to have consumable parts/supplies paid for by Cork Bike Week.
Notwithstanding my own default setting for shop-based events, the group cycles were clearly the most popular of our offerings. People enjoy getting on their bikes and riding as a group, being silly, blowing bubbles, and waiving at pedestrians.
We used the Bike Week festivities to advertise for Clonality’s own Bike Festival and the Circus’s educational ventures. This will prolong Bike Week into Bike Summer, we hope.
Finally, the events and buzz helped raise the funding necessary to move forward on the Silver Bullet Depot project. It should be in place and beginning to function this summer.
Cyclist.ie sends a sincere thanks to all of our groups who ran so many brilliant events during Bike Week 2023 – and who sent the reports above! All of these events are helping to make cycling more inclusive and part of our normal everyday lives. Maith sibh!
Cillian O Boyle, Business Development Manager with Cycling Solutions Ireland, recently returned from Leipzig in Germany after attending the Velo-city conference. In his report below, he shares his experiences with Cyclist.ie of the latest edition of ECF’s Velo-city conference. As always, we encourage supporters of Cyclist.ie’s work to join up or make a donation so as to enable us to ramp up our cycling advocacy programme.
Velo-city Conference Velo-city is the world cycling summit, where advocates, cities, decision and policy makers, researchers and industry leaders meet to shape the future of cycling. As the annual flagship event of the European Cyclists’ Federation, Velo-city plays a valuable part in promoting cycling as a sustainable and healthy means of transport for all.
Like no other event, the conference offers a knowledge-exchange and policy-transfer platform to the more than 1400 Velo-citizens from over 60 countries attending, involved in the policy, promotion and provision for cycling, active mobility and sustainable urban development. Taking place under the theme #LeadingTheTransition, Velo-city 2023 Leipzig asked the inevitable question: What future do we want to live in?
Cycle Friendly Employer Scheme Cycling Solutions Ireland (CSI), Ireland’s European Cyclists’ Federation (ECF) certified cycle-friendly employer accreditors, were one of a number of Irish organisations represented at Velo-city in Leipzig. CSI were joined by the Department of Transport (DoT) in a programme discussion about the importance of cycle-friendly employer certification in the public sector. Carol Lodola of DoT gave a presentation on behalf of the Department.
L to R: Froso Christofides (European Cyclists’ Federation), Michael O’Boyle (CEO Cycling Solutions Ireland), Carol Lodola (Department of Transport)
Leipzig, Host City Known for its rich history, vibrant culture, and state-of-the-art transport infrastructure, Leipzig was an ideal host city for Velo-city 2023. Attendees were provided with the use of Nextbikes from the TIER bike sharing scheme in Leipzig during the conference
Coming from a country that is still very car-centric, a few days spent in Leipzig opens up the mind to the possibilities available to cities that commit to shared mobility; or as Leipzig refers to it, the Environmental Alliance: walking, cycling and local public transport. The goal is to reach a 70% modal share of the environmental alliance (23% public transport, 23% cycling and 24% walking). In order to achieve this milestone, the city will invest more than 1.5 billion Euro in cycling, walking and public transport by 2030.
The city administration intends to create new cycling facilities on its main roads, expand bicycle parking facilities, build a bicycle parking garage at the main railway station and improve road maintenance on important cycle routes during the winter. A new last-mile logistic concept will also be implemented. This will see all deliveries destined for the city bundled outside the city centre and delivered with low-emission vehicles, such as cargo bikes.
New opportunities to capitalise on Leipzig’s week in the cycling spotlight were not wasted. Decision makers in Leipzig’s local government teamed up with STADTRADELN,a climate alliance organisation, who gathered data on the most used cycling routes by attendees throughout the conference. The resulting data will be used by urban planners to propose new cycle lanes in the city. At the time of writing, over 1,700 kilometres of cycling data had been gathered by STATDRADELN.
Screenshot of STATDRADELN data gathering of cycling journeys
The Netherlands: Lessons from a cycling Mecca The Netherlands wasn’t always a fietsparadijs (“bicycle paradise”). As with their counterparts, post-war planners were carving out space for the car in their cities; demolishing buildings and filling in canals. Converging (road safety and oil supply) crises in the 1970s set them off in a different direction, but it required a great deal of experimentation, as well as a few high-profile failures. It wasn’t until the mid-1990s that best practices were codified in national street design and road safety policies. The resulting principles have been a “game changer”, resulting in 20,000 kilometres of separated cycle paths—over half the existing network—in the past 25 years.
With fifty years of experience resulting in the highest levels of cycling on the planet, the Dutch are far from resting on their laurels. In fact, this success creates new pressures around space and speed in the city, with recent developments offering opportunities to build on it.
The five key learnings from Dutch experts at Velo-city 2023 were:
1) Start with a link, plan for a network: To provide for a maximum diversity of users, Dutch planners have learned to look beyond individual lanes, and think more holistically at the network level.
2) Don’t give up at the intersection: Knowing a network is only as good as its weakest link, and most collisions occur at these points, the Dutch-style “protected intersection” is a staple throughout the country.
3) The most important part of a bike plan is the car plan: As Dutch planners have discovered, measures that offer an attractive alternative to driving (“the carrot”) must be complemented with efforts to make driving indirect and inconvenient (“the stick”).
4) Design for the speed you want: When it comes to calming traffic, the reality is that engineering—not education or enforcement—is the biggest influence on the success of that scheme.
5) Use cycle tracks to feed mass transit (and vice versa): Rather than view cycling and mass transit as competitors, Dutch planners have learned to embrace them as allies, capturing their synergy in a virtuous circle of sustainable travel.
Velo-city Handover Velo-city Leipzig wound down with a flag hand-over to next year’s hosts – the Belgian city of Ghent. The final sign off for an excellent week was a post-event party at Leipzig’s Moritzbastei, one of the city’s oldest fortifications, which now doubles as a performance and cultural centre.
You would be forgiven for thinking Leipzig is an established city on the global conference scene, but this German city never had it easy – after German reunification, the Eastern city tumbled into decline, its population dropping to 437,000 in the mid-1990s. Since then, Leipzig has been reinventing itself at a rapid pace. The turn of the century, a pivotal period for the German city, saw Leipzig’s economy gather momentum, and the implementation of ambitious urban development policies saw people flooding back into the city. Today, its creative buzz and vibrant street life shape the image of a healthy, happy city.
A large Irish cohort could be found around the Moritzbastei on closing night – an encouraging sign that our own country is becoming increasingly alert to the benefits that cycling can bring, when urban development policies allow for it. If Leipzig can do it, anyone can.
Velo City 2024 For anyone interested in discovering the future of sustainable mobility in Europe, make sure to check out the plans for Velo-city Ghent 2024!
Cyclist.ie sends its thanks to Cillian for his report above. We also refer our readers to the excellent report from Katleen Bell Bonjean from Cyclist.ie’s Executive Committee on her experiences at Velo-city.
In the following article, Katleen Bell-Bonjean from Cyclist.ie’s Executive Committee (and Gort Cycle Trails) shares her reflections on the 2023 Velo-city International Cycle Planning conference that was held in Leipzig in Germany. The event was co-organised by the European Cyclists’ Federation (ECF), of which Cyclist.ie is the member for Ireland, and the City of Leipzig. As always, we encourage supporters of Cyclist.ie’s work to join up or make a donation so as to enable us to ramp up our cycling advocacy programme.
Mary Sinnott from Waterford and I were the two Cyclist.ie Executive Committee members that represented Cyclist.ie at this year’s Velo-city conference in Leipzig. With 1500 participants attending from around the world, it was the biggest Velo-city event yet.
It was also a special event for me, as I was taking part in an international panel discussion about Pushing for Action – Leadership in Cycling. Keep on reading to find out more!
Mary and myself getting drenched at the Bike Parade
Check out this video compilation of the bicycle parade. I am glad to say that by the time we finished, the sun was shining 🙂
My main areas of interest are around cycle tourism, rural cycling routes / cycle safety, bike-sharing, cycling data about gender, and questions around how do you best design the public realm?
Giving the thumbs up at Velo-city!
Trends in Cycle tourism globally and various EuroVelo Routes I found this session particularly interesting, with speakers from Canada, The Netherlands and the ECF giving a detailed overview of usage stats on the various EuroVelo routes around Europe. As I live a short distance from Adrahan/Kinvara, one of the access points of EuroVelo #1 in the west of Ireland, I was keen to learn about the usage stats. Cycling tourism is becoming more popular in Ireland, and data shared showed that, even in winter, there are 52 cyclists using EuroVelo1, trebling in the summertime to 159.
One interesting statistic presented was about when people start during the day and when they take a break. In warmer countries like Spain or Portugal, cyclists tend to start earlier and have a break shortly after lunch for a siesta.
In Ireland, thanks to our maritime climate – read, it’s not that hot – cyclists tend to start later in the morning, and don’t have a siesta :). Find out more in the ECF Data hub.
Note that EuroVelo #1 in Ireland was recently officially opened and members of Cyclist.ie were there too! Check out this article.
Pushing for Cycling: Leadership in cycling Panel Discussion I was very excited in January when my abstract for this year’s conference was successful to talk about the social media campaign I headed up, and how we as a group of volunteers campaigned in the depth of Covid to advocate for the Athlone to Galway Greenway to come via Gort by collaborating with local communities along the route.
There were two further panelists from France and one from Australia, and in our warm-up call prior to the conference, I learned how a traumatic event was a catalyst for change in cycle safety in Australia. Stuart Outhred explained how Amy Gillett died after a car crashed into her near Leipzig. The Amy Gillett Foundation is Australia’s leading cycling safety charity. Their vision is for zero bike rider deaths on Australian roads.
Find out more about what #redroute5 has to offer here and the website of the Galway to Athlone Cycleway here. Below is my presentation:
There were a few questions posed during the panel discussion and the one that stood out for me was as follows – Your campaigns are great, but shouldn’t that be done by the local policy makers? I think it’s a good point, but I believe that sometimes grassroots community activists lead the way on topics to show the opportunity, and how working together can lead to real change.
The little city that could – Bike-sharing policy in Tartu With a population of less than 100,000 persons, Tartu in Estonia may not be on anyone’s radar, as most bike share schemes focus on much larger populations. However, bike-sharing is very successful in Tartu because it is integrated with public transport. Once the user has a public transport pass, use of the bikes is free (or a very small charge). The result is that high school students were the biggest users! I talked to the presenter afterwards to find out if there was a breakdown in gender. As it turns out, there was no significant difference between boys and girls. Typically there are more boys cycling than girls, however this study shows that both genders equally used bikes.
NextBike Bike-sharing Scheme On that note, we were all given free access to a Nextbike, Leipzig’s main public bike-sharing company. I picked up my bike near the accommodation we were staying at. I still have to get used to seeing bikes parked at random places and the amount of graffiti in Leipzig! There is QR code at the back of the bike, and scanning the QR codes enables you to unlock the bikes – simples!
It was those bike locks that proved the weakest link in their bike-sharing scheme. Social media can be tricky… a TikTok video became viral where someone showed how you could smash the lock with a hammer and, in the space of a few days, their stock of functioning bikes went from 3000 to just 600. Eventually, they developed an in-house lock that was indestructible. A video was then made to show that no matter how hard you knocked on the lock with a hammer, the lock would not break. I never knew that vandalism is a real issue when operating a bike-sharing scheme!
Public Realm: Practical Workshop about a Leipzig junction I found this one of the most interesting sessions as it was hands-on with real-life situations where we are asked to add public realm to what I would call a spaghetti junction somewhere in Leipzig where you have pedestrians, cyclists, trams , buses and, oh yes, cars:) There were a few questions to ask yourself: how would this new public realm make you feel, what use will this public realm have? As I am not an engineer, I found the maps hard to read, and as we started to understand what we were dealing with, our initial reaction was to just think about the cyclists. As this exercise was about public realm, it made me realize that when designing public realm projects you really have to design for all users and the status quo of traffic flow/speeds needs to be questioned.
Finally Thank you to Cyclist.ie for giving me the opportunity to attend. As always it was an invigorating conference with much knowledge sharing and proof that we are leading the transition!
Note: All images above were taken by Katleen Bell Bonjean except for the featured image which is an ECF photo – used with thanks to ECF.
Cyclist.ie is delighted to be part of a European Commission funded Erasmus+ project that involves seven partner organisations from Spain, Portugal, Poland and Ireland. Five of these are schools (two from Spain and one each from Portugal, Poland and Ireland), while the other two are bicycle advocacy groups – Biciclistas de Corella (based in Navarre in the North of Spain) and Cyclist.ie.
Following a call out to our members back in January, we gathered together a Cyclist.ie delegation of four to take part in the inaugural project meeting in Corella. The delegation comprised Emily from Leitrim Cycling Festival, Reg from Galway Cycling Campaign, Hugh from Dublin Cycling Campaign and Damien (National Cycling Coordinator with Cyclist.ie and An Taisce) – all up for an adventure in the North of Spain!
In this article, our four Cyclist.ie ambassadors offer some reflections on the trip with each of the crew focusing on one of the action packed days.
Hugh’s reflections – on Friday (19 May) Our day started in the local school, IES Alhama, the host partner of the trip. The school is named after the Alhama river which flows through the town. We had a series of presentations from representatives of each of the seven partners. It was great to see the creative talents of the various groups, particularly the pupils presenting in a foreign language. This was a lovely ice-breaker, giving us all an introduction to the other partners. Not too serious, and setting the tone for the following few days.
Next up, we cycled to the town-hall, where the Mayor welcomed us and presented us all with the town’s bandana. Viva!
Now that we were suitably dressed, off we went for a cycle tour around the old narrow streets of Corella – perfect for bikes, and any cars on the route gave us plenty of time and space.
There were guides organised to show us around some of the old churches, beautifully adorned in gold. Reg even got the keys to the castle, although they kept a close eye until he gave them back!
Once the tours were done, we were back on the road – there would be no rest on this trip! We had a bit of a bike-malfunction en route, but luckily we had plenty of experts on hand who were well used to such challenges. Well done Damien for coming to the rescue!
Our next stop was to Erasmus Park, an area that was derelict ten years ago. The community came together and created a lake, and planted numerous trees – as also did participants on some of the subsequent Erasmus+ trips (including one of the trips that Cyclist.ie / An Taisce took part in back in early 2019 – see here). Wildlife returned and it is now a haven for biodiversity.
There is a nursing home closeby, and the residents are brought out by the local Cycling Without Age pilots. Interestingly, they have a different name for the trishaws – they call them “Yayaclettas”, which translates as “Grannybikes” – as emblazoned on the side of Biciclistas de Corella’s support van! This is a much friendlier name and instantly understood.
Emily’s reflections – on Saturday (20 May) Our itinerary onSaturday had us up and out early to get on a bus to Zaragoza – a city about an hour’s drive from Corella.
We arrived outside the city’s famous palace called the Aljafería where we were treated to a guided tour. The palace was home to the Muslims and then to the Christian Kings of the Kingdom of Aragon and is now where the parliament of the Region of Aragon is housed. It is an extremely beautiful and well preserved building.
After that we were taken to La Ciclería which is an inspiring bike workshop/cafe where you can bring your bikes and either use the workshop space and tools to repair your own bike or get it repaired by the in-house mechanics. While you’re there you can enjoy a coffee and cake. We were also treated to a speedy bike tour of the city which took us along the city’s river.
As Reg comments further below, I had no expectations of the trip and I had a fantastic time. The ease of cycling around Corella and Zaragoza was wonderful. The food that we were offered was delicious and the kindness which the local people showed us was heartwarming. Even though Corella looked like a small town it was brimming with culture and history.
Damien’s reflections – on Sunday (21 May) It was lovely being back in Corella after spending time with the gang from Biciclistas de Corella and IES Alhama back in 2019. It feels like a very long time ago with a pandemic sitting between the two visits. On the other hand, it felt like just a few months since I spent time with Tono, Cristina and Chiefly and co, such was their hospitality, friendship and general sense of mischief!
Sunday was the hottest day of the trip and we headed off early on our 10-km Bike ride to Alfaro. The route taken was mainly on bone-try trails. We learned that the lack of rainfall in 2023 has been a real cause of concern to locals and is putting pressure on the irrigation systems needed for their allotments and wider food growing.
Alfaro is well known for it storks, and especially the concentration of them nesting on the roof of the church. Directly across the road from the church is the stork interpretation centre where we learned that some of nests weigh close to 500kg. This puts serious pressure on the historic buildings.
After cycling back to Corella and enjoying some fine outdoor dining and fresh produce, we had more little adventures later that evening visiting a cherry orchard and a vine-yard.
Reg’s reflections – on Monday (22 May) We were treated to a great intergenerational experience first thing Monday morning when we were met at Corella school by Santiago. He is 91 years young and he led us on the bicycle tour around the edge of the town to bring us to one of his two extremely well tended allotments. It was a lovely sight to see the students also on their bicycles following him. At the allotment he gave us a guided tour and we were able to pick some strawberries.
After this, we made our way to Villa Maria, the house and garden of local woman Maria, where we had spent some time earlier in the trip. Emily and Reg planted some pear trees.
We then completed an operation to repair a broken limb on an almond tree.
Reg works for the national Ambulance Service in Ireland, but this was his first time repairing a tree limb. This turned out to be a bigger job than we thought, but together with the students we came up with a plan which was supervised by our Spanish host Maria. We had to utilise the materials on site – some bed sheets torn into strips being the main components but we also needed some long poles and lots of man and woman power to raise the branch to its original position. A local was passing and he remarked on how professional it looked. We also learned that almond trees produce a lot of sap.
The day was finished off with a trip to a local social enterprise who employ people with varying abilities.
I had no idea what to expect before I departed for the trip, but I really enjoyed my Erasmus+ experience. As an adult when you holiday or do trips it is difficult to meet locals and to get involved in the local community. However, from the first day to the final day of this trip, it was all about the local communities and engaging with them while doing different activities.
In Short All four of the Cyclist.ie delegation really enjoyed the exchange and wish to pay a special thanks to our fabulous hosts for putting together such a diverse programme and making us so welcome. We look forward to meeting them in Waterford in June!
Many of you will know about the developing European Cycle Network, known as EuroVelo. This was initiated by the European Cyclists’ Federation, of which Cyclist.ie is the member for Ireland.
In total there are 17 designated cycling routes criss-crossing the continent which, when completed, will be more than 90,000km in length. Ireland, on the periphery of Europe, is part of two of the 17 designated routes:
Eurovelo Route 1 (EV1), the Atlantic Coast Route, and Eurovelo Route 2 (EV2) the Capitals Route
EV2 in Ireland extends from Dublin to Galway across the country. It is still under development, and will be mainly off-road.
EV1 winds its way from Rosslare Harbour in the south east around the south and west coasts of Ireland, and then across from Donegal to Belfast. It is a staggering 2,550km long, 2,300km of which is in the Republic! Most of this route is on-road and mixing with motor traffic, with a few short sections on busy roads, but the majority on quieter local roads. There are also three greenway sections with more to follow. You can find out more about the details of different sections of Ireland’s EV1 on this dedicated website. The route is fully signposted along its entire length.
On Thursday 18th May 2023, during National Bike Week, Colm Ryder, Mairéad Forsythe, and Tony Shanley from Cyclist.ie had the good fortune to be able to attend the formal ministerial launch of EuroVelo Route 1 in Ireland by Minister of State Jack Chambers. The launch took place in scenic Lady’s Island, in Wexford, which is also a pilgrim site with a long and chequered history, and well worth a visit in its own right!
Most of the counties along the EV1 route were also represented at the launch, and added testament to the fantastic work done by local authorities under the coordination of Sport Ireland’s Doug Corrie.
Eamonn Hore, Deputy Chief Executive of Wexford County Council hosted the proceedings and testified to a spend of over €1 million by Wexford Council alone in the past year to improve the road surfaces along the route, and to erecting hundreds of signposts. Cyclist.ie’s representatives can attest to a vast improvement in the road surface quality from that experienced back in 2017 at the original launch of the Wexford section of the route, although work still remains to be done. See photo below for previous route surface quality. Well done Wexford County Council!
Poor Local road surface condition on EuroVelo 1 in 2017, now much improved on most sections – see below.
Cyclist.ie’s representatives also got a chance to cycle with the Minister along a section of the route, and to talk about his new role in the Department of Transport.
Of course we also checked out a few of the features and signposts along the designated route, and some of these can be seen in the images below. The minister also posed for a photo with the Cyclist.ie reps.
We would urge Cyclist.ie members and all cyclists to check out the sections of the now fully signposted route close to them, and to report back to Cyclist.ie any positive or negative views on their experience. This of course also includes items such as reasonable stop-off eating and drinking facilities, toilet facilities, as well as accommodation. In this way we can continue to influence the overall improvement in cycling facilities nationwide, and in particular along this tourist targeted route, which should also benefit regular cyclists on many sections of it.
Cyclist.ie was delighted to be asked to present its Vision for Cycling in Rural Ireland at a symposium hosted by one of its newest members, Pedal Vintage Durrow. The event, titled The Future of Cycling in Rural Ireland was held in collaboration with Laois County Council and with funding from The National Transport Authority. The symposium took place in the beautiful Castle Durrow Country House Hotel on Monday 15th May 2023. The official launch was performed by Laois Rose of Tralee, Sinead Dowd who grew up in New York and enjoyed cycling there.
The array of presenters covered every possible angle of cycling. Naturally there was an emphasis on developments in Laois. Diarmuid Donoghue from the Laois Active Travel Office described some of the council’s completed and planned walking and cycling projects. Of note were footpath extensions to various GAA grounds, the planned removal of hatching to create space for segregated cycling lanes, modification of roundabouts to ensure safer cycling and an urban greenway for Portlaoise!
Regina Dunne, Laois Tourism Officer (see https://laoistourism.ie/) gave an animated presentation on the potential of Laois as a cycling destination. The county offers a variety of cycling experiences with a National Mountain Biking Centre in the Sliabh Blooms and a section of the Barrow Blueway at Vicarstown and Stradbally. Regina was particularly strong on the need for marketing and communication of what is available. She quoted interesting Fáilte Ireland research on the value of experience holidays and on how experiences should appeal to our emotions and to our senses.
Matt Doyle, Chairman of Pedal Vintage Durrow (see here) and John Holland, Coordinator of Portarlington Cycle Campaign each gave presentations. Beautiful pedal vintage hire bikes used by Durrow for their activities were on display. The Durrow group are interested in heritage but also in the practicalities of everyday cycling and there was also a presentation on a feasibility study report by Mark Murphy of MM Consult Cork on a planned Durrow Community Family Bike Hub. The study was jointly commissioned by Pedal Vintage and Laois County Council in collaboration with Coillte Management, and with funding provided under the ORIS funding stream. The trails envisage on-road off-road cycle routes from the centre of Durrow to two local woods, “Dunmore” and “Capponellan” with a (looped) return journey to The Square in Durrow. This ambitious plan chimes perfectly with one of the mantras of Cyclist.ie’s Rural Collective, “we want to be able to travel from our front door, not our car door!”
Cyclist.ie members have always been amused by the nominative determinism in the name of our long-standing member and former Chair, Colm Ryder. However, John Holland, coordinator of Portarlington Cycling Campaign gave Colm a run for his money in a manner of speaking when he told us he wants Portarlington to become the Amsterdam of the midlands! John presented an ambitious vision of the cycling Mecca Portarlington could become! Campaign activities range from regular critical mass cycles highlighting the need for cycling infrastructure to celebratory events such as the Tour de Port or the novel Bike Camp and Swim events planned for Bike Week – see here .
Contributors from outside of Laois included Cyclist.ie members, Clara Clark who presented on the hugely successful Cycling Without Age trishaw national initiative, and Joan Swift from the Rural Collective who presented on behalf of Jo Sachs Eldridge on the Cyclist.ie Vision for Cycling in Rural Ireland.
The final contributors were from Cycling Ireland with Jason Goodison presenting on Community Bike Rides https://www.communitybikerides.ie/ and Paul Norton on cycling infrastructure and facilities development. The Community Bike Rides initiative is a very flexible initiative as it offers an opportunity to log solo as well as group rides and to sign up for rewards and both types of rides are covered by Cycling Ireland insurance. Paul’s presentation focused on the assistance Cycling Ireland can offer to communities interested in setting up cycling facilities such as pump tracks, BMX tracks, skate parks and learn to cycle tracks. He showed a lovely video of children enjoying the Dungarvan Learn to Cycle Facility.
Joan Swift (above) presented on Cyclist.ie’s Vision for Cycling in Rural Ireland – see https://cyclist.ie/ruralvision/. The vision was launched in September 2020 and comprises eight asks which if implemented would enable people living in rural Ireland to cycle for whatever trips they choose, be it commuting, leisure or running errands. The presentation was updated to include both Cyclist.ie and national initiatives which have occurred since the original launch.
Clara’s presentation on Cycling Without Age emphasised its national and voluntary nature, that it has grown from one trishaw in 2017 to over 63 operating all around Ireland. Many local authorities (though not yet Laois Council!) are now sponsoring trishaws for community use. Her video on how the Bike Hub partnership in Dun Laoghaire works, www.thebikehub.ie was a great example of social enterprise and Council cooperation.
Cyclist.ie, in collaboration with the Oireachtas All Party Cycling Group, was delighted to facilitate the annual Bike Week Cycle with Oireachtas staff, TDs and Senators earlier today (Tuesday 16 May 2023). Following photos at Leinster House, the group took part in an easy going group cycle on the streets encircling the Oireachtas Buildings.
The Cyclist.ie delegation comprised Neasa Bheilbigh (Chairperson of Cyclist.ie – the Irish Cycling Network, Galway Cycle Bus and Galway Cycling Campaign), Dr. Damien Ó Tuama (National Cycling Coordinator), Mairéad Forsythe (Love 30, Chair of the Board of Dublin Cycling Campaign / Cyclist.ie CLG), Clara Clark (Founder of Cycling Without Age Ireland), Dave Tobin (Vice-Chair of Cyclist.ie) and Olivia Tobin (an 11 year old girl from Limerick who loves cycling to school)!
There was a lovely range of bikes cycled by TDs and Senators in attendance – with folding bikes, e-bikes, cargo bikes, and bikes with child seats. The diversity of bikes being used reflects the greater diversity of uses of cycles on the streets these days.
All in all, this was an incredibly positive event with representatives from all parties in attendance, with all in agreement that investing in everyday cycling makes complete sense. Utility cycling and its key place going forward in our transport system and climate responsibilities were common topics for discussion amongst the members of the Oireachtas. It was an excellent opportunity to engage about the successes we have had across the country in terms of cycling, and also the challenges we hope to overcome in the next year.
We would like to extend our sincere thanks, in particular, to Deputy Ivana Bacik as Co-convenor of the Oireachtas All Party Cycling Group and her staff for their support and organisation in today’s event.
We look forward to engaging with all parties and the All-Party Cycling Group over the coming months and years.
Cyclist.ie – the national Cycling Promotion organisation