The Rural Cycling Collective is an expanding array of small groups and individuals within the wider Cyclist.ie Advocacy Network with a focus on making rural communities (towns, villages and rural roads) cycle friendly for all ages and abilities.
This August 15th – 29th 2020 – Practice Walking, Cycling, Scooting or Kite-Surfing to your school – with events happening around the country and a nationwide ‘scavenger hunt’ style competition there is plenty of opportunity to show that kids like you want to be able to get there safely and on their own steam! Find out about events near you by getting in touch with your local cycle advocacy group, find them on ourinteractive map here.
The Nationwide ‘Get to School on your own Fuel’ Competition
As long as it’s human powered you can play the game!
How to play : Start by registering your team of 1-8 participants (primary or secondary level students), once registered you will be redirected to a print-friendly Competition Scorecard. Each item on the score card has a point value, the more points you score, the more likely you are to win our hamper of bike-y goodies!
What’s involved: Some items on the list require you to post photos to our facebook, like a photo ‘along your route’ or ‘with your group in front of your school’. Others are tasks like ‘create a route map’ or ‘count the bike parking at your school’! Full details are on the print-friendly score card. (If you are under 13 you will need adult supervision on all your cycles, and use of a parent/guardian’s facebook account.)
When you are done : Post your final score on our Facebook (tagging #gettoschool @cyclistie) total by Friday 28th August at 12pm – the top 3 teams will invited to submit a photo of their completed scorecards and some evidence of items completed – a winner will be declared Saturday 28th of August by 5pm and we will post out your big hamper of bike-y goodies!
MEDIA RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Thursday 30 July 2020 A Vision for Cycling in Rural Ireland Launched by Cyclist.ie’s Rural Cycling Collective
During the lock-down period of restricted travel, one widely remarked phenomenon was the large increase countrywide in the numbers of people of all ages out walking and cycling.
A desire to retain that peace and freedom, together with the promise by the new coalition government of an annual €360 million spend on walking and cycling infrastructure has led to the formation of a new Rural Cycling Collective. Comprising an array of groups and individuals under the umbrella of the wider national Cyclist.ie advocacy network, the group is focused on making rural communities (towns, villages, and rural roads) cycle-friendly for all ages and abilities. It aims to re-balance the debate on active travel so that everyday journeys by bike across rural Ireland are enabled and supported.
“A VISION FOR CYCLING IS A VISION FOR THE FUTURE”
Launching the manifesto, Joan Swift, speaking on behalf of Sligo Cycling Campaign – a member group of Cyclist.ie – said
Today, we launch our vision document which aims to promote and celebrate everyday cycling in towns, villages and their surrounding areas. We are launching the Rural Cycling Collective to highlight the needs of areas outside of the major cities. We are campaigning for a fair distribution of transport funding to regional parts of the country to make cycling for all ages and abilities a reality. Our 8 identified priorities have the potential to completely transform our communities.
“RURAL COLLECTIVE HAS 8 PRIORITIES”
The collective is calling on Local and National Government to:
Create an environment in our towns, villages, and rural roads where cyclists are expected and respected.
Create and map useful, connected cycle routes throughout Local Authority areas.
Implement best practice design so that routes are safe and comfortable for all ages and abilities.
Prioritise safe cycle routes to schools and car-free zones at school gates.
Lower Speed Limits to make our roads and streets safer and more accessible for everyone, and to reduce casualties.
Ensure clear and timely access to funding by improving capacity at all levels of local and national government.
Collaborate with all stakeholders – including cycling and community groups – at all stages of planning and design.
Provide cycle training for all ages especially children
Taken together, these measures would transform active travel throughout Ireland. The co-benefits would include improvements to health, safety, congestion, air-quality, noise levels, and the public realm. More cycling will also help us to meet our climate change obligations. Speaking ahead of the launch, Anluan Dunne from Kerry Cycling Campaign said:
We can be a voice for areas of Ireland that have not yet realised the potential of cycling for everyday activities – cycling to school for children, to work, to the post office for your pension, to shops to buy a litre of milk – or to cycle around to your neighbours for a catch-up. We need to change how we develop our towns, villages and rural roads and we need our collective voice to be heard
At a recent family fun cycle in Clonakilty as part of the multi-location launch of the Vision for Cycling in Rural Ireland, there was an overwhelming feeling that both children and adults love exploring their local neighbourhoods and areas on their bicycles, and that cycling needs to become an everyday part of life in Ireland again.
Jo Sachs-Eldridge, from Leitrim Cycling Festival, who led the creation of the vision, invites everyone – people who cycle, people who don’t cycle, want-to-be cyclists, mums, dads, planners, councillors, Ministers and An Taoiseach – to get involved in shaping this vision and helping to make it a reality.
The Rural Cycling Collective plans to foster collaboration amongst cycling groups across Ireland and to jointly lobby local authorities and public representatives for the changes which will entice more people to choose the bicycle for everyday activities. It will also work towards a cycle-friendly Ireland by collaborating with all stakeholders, organising regular events, fun-cycles and campaign actions.
Cyclist.ie – the Irish Cycling Advocacy Network is the umbrella body of cycle campaigning and advocacy groups in Ireland – https://cyclist.ie/. It is the member for Ireland of the European Cyclists’ Federation – https://ecf.com/.
Cyclist.ie made a submission today (Friday 22 January 2021) to the National Transport Authority in regard to its Review of the Transport Strategy for the Greater Dublin Area (GDA).
In our submission (a link to it is below), we stressed the point that, almost uniquely, cycling is a key enabler for the four challenges listed within the strategy overview:
– Climate Change and the Environment – Health and Equality – Growth and Change and – The Economy
We pointed out that progress has been slow in the early years of the 2016-2035 GDA Strategy on the development of the cycling network, despite the publication of the GDA Cycle Network Plan Strategy in 2013 .
Given the extra urgency in regard to the need to decarbonise our transport system and provide a healthy mobility system, we now look forward to a serious focus and rapid progress in the revised strategy on all public transport projects and, in particular, on active travel projects. We need a fairer allocation of road space and reallocation towards active travel. This needs to be prioritised as part of this strategy review.
We underlined the need for high quality cycle infrastructure to be provided throughout the region and linking in to public transport interchanges with state-of-the-art cycle parking provision.
We exhorted the NTA to be far more ambitious in its strategy development so that in the coming years, staff from Local Authorities countrywide – and even from abroad – will travel throughout the GDA to observe and to try out a wealth of super high quality, low carbon, mobility interventions and systems.
Cyclist.ie warmly welcomes the announcement today from the Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan T.D. and Minister of State Hildegarde Naughton T.D. that up to 248 new jobs in local authorities will be created to expand walking and cycling facilities all over the country.
Speaking about the plan to employ up to 218 additional staff across the local authorities, with an additional 30 proposed for Regional Cycling Design Offices, Minister Eamon Ryan said:
“Developing high quality walking and cycling facilities will encourage more people to switch to active travel and will contribute to tackling climate change. Really good design is what is needed to connect communities and make walking and cycling attractive, safe and accessible to everyone. We’re providing €360 million in funding in the 2021 budget for active travel, and this week I announced that we will fund dedicated teams in all local authorities to deliver on the commitments in the Programme for Government. This project will more than quadruple the number of staff working on active travel projects on local authorities. This is a game-changer in terms of delivering high-quality infrastructure across the country in both rural and urban areas.”
Minister of State Naughton stated: “Today’s announcement, underpinned by our commitment to spend almost €1 million per day on walking and cycling, focuses on resourcing the shift towards more sustainable modes of transport. Local authorities are at the heart of what we want to achieve and we need to ensure they have the right level of resources available to deliver this in every city, town and village across the country. Vitally, we will use these dedicated resources to implement Government commitments such as the new Safe Routes to School programme. This Programme will ensure that children of all ages and backgrounds can travel to school safely, and in a healthy and active way.”
According to the announcement made earlier today (Friday 22 January 2021), the new staff will be dedicated to delivering and promoting active travel in Ireland and will work across design, communications / community liaison and construction oversight functions. The new staff will support the delivery of almost 1,000 kilometres of improved walking and cycling infrastructure by 2025.
Cyclist.ie warmly welcomes the announcement above having campaigned ahead of the General Election 2020 for increased investment in trained staff in sustainable travel – see here.
Chairperson of Cyclist.ie, Colm Ryder, responded to the announcement saying that this could be a game-changer in how we plan for high quality sustainable mobility in Ireland over the next decade. “We need to shift our emphasis towards low carbon and healthy transport, and it is extremely important that Local Authorities are engaging with the latest ideas in mobility planning and behavioural change through new staff trained in design, communications, community liaison as well as enhanced construction oversight functions. Additionally, the new jobs in every Local Authority will bring greater parity to the development of active travel across the country – in other words, this marks a shift from a mainly city focused approach to one where we will start to see real changes in walking and cycling provision in every county in the country”.
Vice-Chairperson of Cyclist.ie, Neasa Bheilbigh, added: “If we are to reduce the inequalities in mobility, and make it as normal for children to cycle to school in Ireland as it is in many European countries, then we urgently need this new cohort of staff in Local Authorities who will inject new thinking and ideas into Irish Councils. We must remember that everyone benefits when more people cycle. We look forward to hearing more details of the government plans following on from this announcement.”
Cyclist.ie’s ambition is for every county in Ireland to have its own cycling advocacy group (or groups) and for all of these to be incorporated into our all-island network. This is at a time when government commitment to sustainable transport has never been greater.
Currently around two thirds of the counties in Ireland have their own cycling user / advocacy groups, and these span Cycling Campaigns, Bike Festivals, Greenway Groups and other Special Focus Groups. Additionally, there are new Cycle Buses popping up all around the place which is great to see.
On the map here http://cyclist.ie/map/ (screen-shot below), we have plotted these groups and have provided direct hyperlinks to all of them so you can get a good idea of what is happening where. Contact details are provided for most of them via this online map.
Within Cyclist.ie’s umbrella, we now have 25 full member groups. To give you some context, this has grown from just seven groups back in 2008 when the federation was formed. See here for the first Cyclist.ie submission made in October 2008 which was jointly produced by our then member groups from Dublin, Cork, Galway, Limerick, Maynooth, Skerries and Waterford.
Note that the ambition for every county in Ireland to have its own cycling advocacy group is now part of Cyclist.ie’s brand new strategy which was adopted at our most recent Council meeting held on Saturday 12 December 2020. We will be producing a public version of this strategy in the coming months which will be posted to our website.
At Dublin Cycling Campaign’s online public meeting taking place on Monday 18th January 2021 (at 8pm), Cyclist.ie’s National Cycling Coordinator, Dr. Damien Ó Tuama, will be giving a short presentation on this ambition. This is part of an evening of 10 short talks on an array of topics. For details, check out this link. As part of the talk, Damien will offer some ideas on how to support the setting up of a new group and join the network. All are very welcome.
If you live in a county which does not appear to have an active cycle campaign group within it, but you are keen to have one in order to help shape your Local Authority’s transport and cycling policies – and, ultimately, to change conditions on the ground for the better, then drop Damien a line. We look forward to hearing from you!
All in all, this is an exciting time to be involved in cycling advocacy.
Cyclist.ie is delighted that another advocacy group also decided that the beginning of a New Year was an opportune time to invite people to celebrate cycling, sustainability, and active travel.
No sooner had Cyclist.ie’s “Cycle into the New Year” invitation been posted on social media than An Taisce – the National Trust for Ireland posted its own #NewYearTwoWheels challenge, which invited people to reconsider their travel choices during the month of January.
The An Taisce January campaign complements Cyclist.ie’s “Cycle in the New Year” campaign perfectly. The latter asked people to cycle on New Year’s Day. An Taisce was more ambitious and is asking people to reconsider their mode of transport during the whole of the month of January. We think #NewYearTwoWheels is a brilliant hashtag and are happy to add it to our posts.
Below, we show you a selection of the photos posted on Twitter during the first week of the #NewYearTwoWheels campaign. They feature journeys by bike in Dublin, Cork, Galway, Clare, Meath and Leitrim. There are just under twenty days left in January, so if your county does not feature – or even if it does – why not leave the car at home for a trip and see if you can get to your destination under your own steam!
Since many people who posted their photos were either still on Christmas holidays or are working from home, most of the featured trips were for leisure purposes but Kevin Jennings, Galway, posted photos showing the popularity of #ShopByBike in Galway, while over on Facebook Leitrim Cycling Festival showed off a very colourful selection of veg from the Farmer’s Market!
Also, in Galway, Justine Delaney admired some new bike parking.
Meanwhile Better Ennis observed that on a bike you have time to notice what is over the wall – and they encountered these dancing ducks!
Many people photographed stunning landscapes. The glorious weather we had last week must have been the answer to both a cyclist and a photographer’s prayer! Dave Anderson, Navan, for example took this beautiful photo of a peacefully meandering river Boyne from Ardmulchan Church.
In Galway, Mother on a Rothar captured beautiful images of bicycles at Silverstrand, as did fellow Galwegian, Richard Silke. Both posters remarked on how wonderful it is that the road to this beach is now closed to motor traffic making it a haven for people walking and cycling.
In Dublin, the Dodder proved to be a popular destination. Ciarán Ferrie, Siobhán McNamara and Sandra Velthuis all headed that way and Mairéad Forsythe was looking forward to the new Dodder bridge in Templeogue.
In Cork Maulvirane’s photo taken near Carrigaline caught our eye!
Many posters worked out loops which allowed them to cover a decent distance while remaining 5 km from home. Ross Boyd did his loop around Fingal on New Year’s Day and was pleased to discover that there were as many bikes as cars about!
In recent months, the newly formed Cyclist.ie Rural Collective has introduced the concept of “Rothar Roads” to discussions of cycling infrastructure. Our final photo shows Jo Sachs Eldridge, of Leitrim Cycling Festival, one of the prime movers behind the collective, on just such a road on New Year’s Day.
So, there you have it, urban or rural, regional or rothar, greenway, blueway, shops or sea, your bike can take you there! Why not see if you can rise to An Taisce’s call by substituting a car trip for a bike trip during January? And don’t forget to add your #NewYearTwoWheels photo to the collection!
Cycling advocates from around the country took to the roads on New Year’s Day 2021 to stretch their legs, enjoy their surroundings, and show support for the government’s plans to allocate increased funding for cycle infrastructure.
This invitation to ‘Cycle in the New Year’ was an action led by The Rural Cycling Collective, a subgroup of Cyclist.ie – the Irish Cycling Advocacy Network, recently formed to draw attention to the dire need for a cohesive strategy to create safe cycling for all, beyond the borders of the main cities.
“Because our rural groups have fewer members, we often struggle with lack of resources and ability to connect with Local Authorities and so we have created a network across the country to highlight our common issues. Rural Ireland has many miles of smaller boreen roads that, if signposted and designated for slower traffic, could transform the way we can all move around the Irish countryside” said Allison Roberts of the Clonakilty Bicycle Festival pictured here with her son Ari.
“Rural Ireland is rich with natural beauty and cycling tourism is on the rise. This year we’ve all had to stay close to home and, for many of us, our bikes have given us the freedom we so badly needed – and physical and mental space.” She continued “we also have smaller town centres with schools and local amenities within a stone’s-throw of residential areas, but nearly all children are driven to school because the roads are viewed as not being safe enough for cycling. Often, speed limits in towns are too high with little to no infrastructure for safe cycling. However, we are happy that some of our groups are now in talks with councils around the country to help solve these issues and strategise on the best way to spend the government funds allocated for active travel.”
We are all aware that this school-going generation needs to become more active generally, and what better way than by simply building in safe and secure methods of active travel to the everyday school journey?
The Rural Cycling Collective launched their Vision for Cycling in Rural Ireland during National Bike Week in September 2020 and printed copies of the Vision were sent to Local Authority Chief Executive Officers and Directors of Service for Transport and Infrastructure nationwide.
Before Christmas, Local Authorities were invited by Eamon Ryan, Minister of Transport, to submit suggested plans for active travel projects to his Department for consideration – see €50M Walking and Cycling fund announced for towns and villages. This is a wonderful opportunity for rural Local Authorities to get things active in their areas.
“Our goal is to work closely with our government and local bodies to build plans for each locality that will shape the future and make the best use of government resources. We are very excited to be in the process of opening dialogues with some Local Authorities already, and we look forward to all that is happening to improve everyday cycling in 2021 and beyond” said Joan Swift of Sligo Cycling Campaign.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin has also signalled to Local Authorities that his government will fund any greenway project they have as part of its response to climate change as reported in the Meath Chronicle on 30 December 2020. Allison Roberts from the Clonakilty Bicycle Festival warmly welcomed this statement.
Cyclist.ie hopes that by the end of 2021, we will have a whole swathe of new high quality cycling facilities both in rural and urban areas. Dr. Damien Ó Tuama, National Cycling Coordinator with Cyclist.ie and An Taisce, added that “we are happy to work with Local Authorities countrywide – both in urban and rural areas – so that we can build on the change in the culture of mobility that has happened in 2020. These are exciting times for the growth of everyday cycling.”
For more information or for interviews, please contact:
Over the summer members of Cyclist.ie, led by two women from Leitrim and West Cork, produced A Vision for Cycling in Rural Ireland. The Vision is grounded in the evidence-based advocacy work of Cyclist.ie thanks to the input and guidance of its core members and created through the collaborative efforts of people from across the country. The purpose and contents of the Vision have already been posted here but we thought it worth collating the fantastic coverage of the launch of the Vision.
Cyclist.ie appreciates the extensive media coverage of the Vision by Local and Community Radio Stations and by the Regional Press. This coverage has been invaluable in spreading the word about the positive impact well-designed cycle networks,cycling infrastructure and other cycling initiatives can have in our communities.
The Vision was officially launched during National Bikeweek by Minister of State Malcolm Noonan who hails from Kilkenny and The Kilkenny People featured it prominently.
West Cork People spoke to Allison Roberts, Clonakilty Bike Circus, Katie Mann, CycleSense, Skibbereen and Lucia Finnegan, Bike Friendly Bandon, about their fun cycle events celebrating the Vision, and gave it major prominence. The Southern Star also covered the launch and included a superb photo.
Two local papers in Kerry, Kerry’s Eye and TraleeToday.ie covered the Vision. quoting Anluan Dunne of Kerry Cycling Campaign, and Mayor of Kerry, Councillor Patrick O’ Connor-Scarteen who welcomed it warmly.
Further north, The Leitrim Observer headlined its article, Leitrim Woman Leads National Vision for Cycling referring to Jo Sachs-Eldridge, rural dweller, bicycle user, transport planner and lead Rural Vision author! The Sligo Weekender also covered the vision launch and aim
Local radio stations too featured spokespersons for the Cyclist.ie Rural Cycling Collective and gave them the opportunity to explain to listeners its background, aims and objectives. Amongst these were Connemara Community Radio, Highland Radio Donegal, Radio Kerry, KCLR which covers Kilkenny and Carlow, Midwest Radio Mayo, Shannonside, Leitrim and Roscommon Tipp Fm and Tipperary Mid West Radio. We found local radio to be a highly effective means of communicating with our target audience. Many of the interviews lasted between ten and fifteen minutes so there was time to tease out ideas and expand on points without interruption, and interviewers appeared to be genuinely interested in what the Vision could mean for our communities.
On Friday last, December 4th The Department of Transport announced that a sum of €50 Million Euro was being made available to Local Authorities to provide walking and cycling infrastructure for towns and villages outside of the Greater Dublin Area.. The Rural Collective welcomes this announcement, particularly the positive language of the Press Release from Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan. “Local authority applicants should identify convenient and direct routes for active travel modes, including, and where necessary, aim to reallocate space from motor traffic and car parking. Funded projects should be accessible, age-friendly and maximise comfort to people of all ages and abilities.”This language augurs well for the future of cycling outside of the big urban conurbations as well as within them.
Media exposure and the sending of copies of the Vision to Local Authority Chief Executives and Directors of Services for Transport have helped to spread the Rural Vision message. Already we have had positive feedback and queries from senior personnel in a number of Local Authorities. Members of Cyclist.ie are happy to work collaboratively with our local authorities to realise the key points of the Rural Vision. It is heartening that already some L/A’s have been in touch with member organisations. We look forward to seeing what these conversations will lead to as the unstoppable tidal wave continues to rise across rural Ireland.
Carndonagh needs cycling infrastructure in the post-Covid environment A newly-formed cycling and walking group, based in Carndonagh, aims to encourage Donegal County Council to construct 10kms of cycling infrastructure to connect schools, sporting amenities and businesses in the town. Carndonagh Cycleway has now requested a meeting with the Members of the Inishowen Municipal District to put forward their vision for a comprehensive cycling network that they believe will revolutionise the town – and for the good.
‘Carndonagh is not a safe town for cycling at present’, Odel Ward said. She continued: ‘while there are a lot of road cyclists passing through en route to or from Malin Head, how many people do you see cycling to work, to school or to access our excellent local sports clubs? Unfortunately the answer is ‘very few’, because there’s simply no safe, segregated cycling lanes. We are being encouraged to walk and cycle to school but it is currently dangerous with the high volume of motorised traffic in the town centre’. Research shows 30% of all trips in the car cover distances of less than 3km and 50% are for less than 5km. Many of these car journeys could be substituted with cycling. It is an efficient, sustainable way of getting around while reducing pressure on families daily taxi service, improving public health, lifting spirits and lowering CO2 emissions. From the research we have carried out so far there is huge demand for safe cycle routes to link the community but safety concerns are stopping the government’s health initiatives and policies from being implemented locally. Families are simply not comfortable using the local roads to travel by bike and end up driving everywhere under pressure.
‘One only has to look at what’s happening in other parts of Ireland, notably in Dun Laoghaire, to see the change that can occur given the political willpower and financial backing of the Department for Transport, Tourism and Sport.’ It’s not just for Dublin, cycling is a pleasant way of getting around on a daily basis and with the right infrastructure and appropriate clothing workers, shoppers, tourists and leisure users can all enjoy the benefit of the bike.
While the current regeneration project for the town centre is to be greatly welcomed, we can also further enhance access in and to the town. Members of our group have audited the current road network in and around the town and we feel it is feasible to install segregated cycling lanes that will enable children and adults to safely move to school, to work, to our local sports facilities and for recreation. The campaign comes on the back of a renaissance for cycling in Ireland, with bike shops currently sold out of stock and the percentage of those cycling having increased dramatically since March 2020, highlighting the massive unmet demand for cycling. Odel concluded: ‘we need to use the outdoor space properly so that people can enjoy freedom, good health and a lifted mood while also reducing air and noise pollution. We want to improve our quality of life while spending more time in an attractive and sustainable town centre.’
We are looking for the whole community to get behind this small working group as it will take a collective effort to make this vision become a reality. We will circulate a petition to bring a cycleway to Carndonagh in the coming days and will be working on developing plans to present to the council. Anyone interested in being involved in the campaign can email [email protected] or check out their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/carndonaghcycleway
Cyclist.ie has had an intensely busy and fruitful period of campaigning over the last two years. In the text below, we list many of our highlights and main achievements in 2019 and 2020. It is broadly divided into Campaigns, Submissions, Presentations, International Advocacy Work and Organisational Developments.
It is certainly not exhaustive, but will give a good sense of our core campaigning work. In summary though, our advocacy work has had a significant impact on national policy, on funding for cycling, and in supporting cycle campaigning at a local level which, in turn, is helping to shape the approaches of Local Authorities and communities in nurturing cycling. We look forward to an even more fruitful year in 2021!
2019 Highlights / Main Achievements
#allocate4cycling campaign organised with the aim of prioritising investment in cycling. As part of this, many PQs (Parliamentary Questions) posed to TDs so as to help disentangle figures around the actual annual spend on cycling
Supporting the #ibikeivote social media campaign to encourage those registered to vote in the local and European elections to get on their bikes and vote – and opt for candidates serious about active travel.
Officials from the Road Safety Authority, An Garda Síochána, the National Transport Authority, and three separate sections of the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (Sustainable Transport, Road Safety and Tourism)
Engaging through the European Cyclists’ Federation on EU level processes related to mobility and road safety. https://ecf.com/
To get cycling prioritised in the Programme for Government which we succeeded with, crucially in regard to funding. The PfG now includes the following text:
“The Government will commit to an allocation of 10% of the total transport capital budget for cycling projects and an allocation of 10% of the total capital budget for pedestrian infrastructure. The Government’s commitment to cycling and pedestrian projects will be set at 20% of the 2020 capital budget (€360 million) per year for the lifetime of the Government.” (page 13 of https://drive.google.com/file/d/12TNmlz1a4B56dI31zyixzRT493Cv7sgl/view)
Cyclist.ie made a detailed submission today, Sun 22 Nov 2020, to the Road Safety Authority in regard to the preparation of their Road Safety Strategy 2021-2030 (as per this formal consultation process). You can read our submission below. A big thanks to the Cyclist.ie Executive Committee for leading on this and to our many volunteers for their valuable inputs.
Questions 1 and 2: What are Our Road Safety Priorities for the coming 10 years? And Suggestions to Meet Them.
1.1 Stockholm Declaration 2020
Ireland is a signatory at this year’s Third Global Ministerial Conference on Road Safety. The agreed Stockholm Declaration is a wide ranging document that sets out the basis for a broader road safety approach, and recognises that ‘the overwhelming majority of road traffic deaths and injuries are preventable and that they remain a major development and public health problem that has broad social and economic consequences’.
In this upcoming RSS, the RSA needs to ensure that the statements and resolutions of the Stockholm Declaration are mirrored in Ireland’s RSS.
Cyclist.ie urges that the RSA take full cognisance of the 2020 Stockholm Declaration statements and resolutions, as signed by the Government, and seek to ensure we fully meet our international commitments under this declaration.
1.2 Beyond Vision Zero
The RSA has outlined that the main principle of the new 2021-30 RSS is for a Vision Zero approach. This Vision Zero approach ensures that broader aspects of road safety planning are considered such as road design, speed limits, as well as the road user.
But a further development on this approach has evolved titled Beyond Vision Zero (BVZ) – This approach advocates not just for reduction of road fatalities and injuries, but also for the parallel promotion and increase in cycling and active travel, a broader whole society approach. This approach also mirrors aspects of the 2020 Stockholm Declaration. Resolution 2 of the Stockholm Declaration broadly describes this approach – see below.
Address the connections between road safety, mental and physical health, development, education, equity, gender equality, sustainable cities, environment and climate change, as well as the social determinants of safety and the interdependence between the different [Sustainable Development Goals] and targets are integrated and indivisible;
Essentially, more people walking and cycling is an indication of a safer and healthier transport system, as people grow to have greater confidence in the overall safe road designs. These increased levels of participation need to be also backed up by regular monitoring and research.
Cyclist.ie urges the RSA to move from Vision Zero to embed a Beyond Vision Zero concept into our national Road Safety Strategy 2021-30, to ensure a more holistic approach to road safety, and public health.
1.3 Collision Data and Analysis
As in all systems approaches, good data is a critical baseline information point to enable clear analysis of the issues arising. Throughout the last RSS the ready availability of good quality data, on all aspects of road incidents, has been found wanting, much of this problem related to doubtful GDPR-related decisions, but also to the lack of resources invested in data researchers. An example of the paucity and delays in data analysis is exemplified by the latest detailed analysis on Serious Injuries available now in late 2020, is from 2017, 3 years ago. Is this really acceptable?
If high quality data is unavailable it is more difficult to diagnose the problems and the required solutions. It is critical that the public availability of anonymised data is delivered regularly, and as soon as possible following road incidents. This will likely involve additional training for Gardaí, to ensure all data is recorded at locations of incidents, that there is increased cooperation between An Garda Síochána (AGS) the RSA and the Health Service Executive in regard to hospital Emergency Department data. That there will be improved technology in collecting the relevant information, and increased investment in data analysis, to ensure the timelines between incidents and analysis is reduced. That annual reports are published jointly by Garda and RSA on all aspects of road incidents from death and serious injury analysis to conviction levels for driving offences.
Cyclist.ie wants any GDPR-related issue to collection and analysis of road incident data be resolved, resources for data research to be increased, and data be released to Ireland’s research community as soon as possible for speedy analysis and feedback into ongoing RSS development. Annual reports must be delivered to measure how we are performing on the various measures set out.
1.4 Reduction of Injuries to Vulnerable Road Users (VRUs)
As road deaths to VRUs have generally decreased or flatlined in recent years, available analysis from AGS / RSA would indicate that serious injuries to VRUs have been increasing, both in terms of absolute numbers, and disproportionately in comparison to vehicle occupants. This data, which unfortunately is only available up to 2017 highlights the need to seriously target issues which will support the safe use of our roads by VRUs. More frequent, and more detailed reports such as the recent Cyclist Injuries 2016-18 report need to be made available. But also, and this has not been a factor in reports issued by AGS and RSA, through analyses of the information obtained, solutions need to be developed. Solutions such as infrastructure design improvements, reductions in speed limits and technology use, to make our roads safer, need to be put forward.
This continuing large increase in serious injuries to VRUs needs to be tackled and solutions addressed. Simply presenting figures related to deaths and injuries is not enough. The figures need to be drilled into, and need to be analysed critically, and without delay. The impact of serious injuries on people’s livelihoods, and the economy in general, is profound and needs to be factored into RSS 2021-30.
While recognising the specific commitment to VRUs in the Draft RSS 2021-30, Cyclist.ie demands particular emphasis on more frequent, timely, and critical analysis of serious injuries to VRUs, to enable timely solutions to these serious injuries to be addressed.
1.5 An Garda Síochána to set up a dedicated online portal for the processing of video evidence
The recently introduced ’Dangerous Overtaking of Cyclists’ law has given some increased protection for cyclists on our roads, but the law needs to be strengthened through the use of technology, common in other jurisdictions, e.g. London’s Metropolitan Police. This technology allows cyclists and other VRUs, and all road users, to report dangerous overtaking offences via a dedicated police online portal, from where the footage can be triaged by a dedicated team and sent for prosecution as deemed appropriate. At present this reporting can only be done by physically visiting a Garda station and reporting the incident with camera footage of dangerous overtaking and other driving offences. This reporting system needs to be completely updated.
We also want to see the implementation of all the recommendations made in the RSA 2018 Report on Minimum Passing Distance (MPD), and ensuring that Garda Traffic conduct Operation Close Pass as part of these recommendations.
Cyclist.ie wants to see the rapid introduction of incident reporting via a dedicated online portal, as is common in other jurisdictions, and the implementation of RSA’s recommendations on MPD.
1.6 Speed Limit Reduction
Speeding accounts for a significant portion of road traffic deaths, and despite this awareness, drivers continue to exceed posted speed limits regularly, as indicated by all recent RSA Free Speed Surveys. There is no doubt that vehicle speeding also accounts for a significant proportion of serious injuries, which have debilitating social and economic effects. As outlined in the Stockholm Declaration (Resolution 11), and recently introduced in the Netherlands all default urban speed limits should be reduced to 30kph. We also need a suite of lower ‘fit for purpose’ speed limits on our rural roads, and not a blanket 80kph limit. Cyclist.ie recommends consideration of a new ‘Rothar Road’ designation (minor rural roads waymarked for cyclists) where the speed limit is tailored to the safety of all potential users, and where people on foot and on bikes are ‘expected and respected’. See https://cyclist.ie/ruralvision/
We would also like to see annual Free Speed Survey updates to measure progress on speeding issues. Additionally, we would like to see the RSA making formal submissions on all measures affecting road safety, and especially in regard to proposals for Local Authorities to introduce lower safer speed limits. We also want to see the national Speed Limit guidance updated, the corresponding website https://www.speedlimits.ie/ kept up to date, and engineering features introduced into speed limit setting.
Cyclist.ie seeks the introduction of a default 30kph speed limit in all urban areas, the introduction of ‘fit for purpose’ speed limits on rural roads, and the updating of our national speed limit guidelines.
1.7 Safe Routes to School
The present Programme for Government outlines the provision of Safe Routes to School as a transport priority. This is a critical proposed development, as the numbers of young people cycling have dramatically dropped since the mid-1980s, and the school gate car drop has become a feature of our modern obsession with the car. Shockingly, just 694 girls cycled to secondary school in 2016 (as per the most recent Census data and as discussed on page 14 of the 2018 Get Ireland Cycling Strategy Framework produced for Sport Ireland). These graphs of both ‘Active Travel’ and cycling to school indicate the vast range across the country.
The growth of Cycle Buses, parent-led initiatives to protect children cycling to school, is a development that should not be necessary. Children should be enabled to travel safely to school by bike or on foot as far as possible. Safe routes to school, and not just designated ‘school streets’, need to be prioritised, and also accompanied by lower speed limits for motor vehicles.
Cyclist.ie seeks a concerted national effort, with appropriate guidelines, to ensure that facilities for children countrywide to cycle and walk safely to school are provided.
1.8 Roads Policing and Legislation
The need for continued enforcement of road traffic infractions is unfortunately a continuing requirement of a road safety policy. In line with the resolutions of the Stockholm Declaration, Ireland must ensure that the requisite resources for this necessary policing are provided and that all road traffic infractions are punished in line with legislation. Legal loopholes need to be clearly eliminated to ensure that all unacceptable driver behaviour is properly prosecuted. Crucially, the road traffic legislation needs to be consolidated and simplified to ensure that all enforcing authorities and road users can understand it. Cycle-friendly legislation, such as ‘presumed liability’ measures, contra-flow cycling, and left-turn-on-red traffic lights, needs to be introduced, similar to our European neighbours, to encourage more people to cycle, and thus make our towns and cities healthier and more people friendly. Gardai need to be regularly updated and trained and able to comprehend road traffic legislation in its entirety, including new laws introduced.
Cyclist.ie wants to see the full complement of the Roads Policing Unit in the Garda reached. We also seek a consolidation of the existing road traffic legislation, and elimination of legal loopholes. New cycle-friendly legislative initiatives need to be introduced to encourage greater levels of cycling. And Gardai must be au fait with traffic legislation.
1.9 Targeted Education Programmes
Where data and research indicate particular road safety issues, the RSA needs to develop specific messaging for different groups (across age, gender, class, ethnicity, locality, etc) with stories told in their own words. Local Authorities could, for instance, do this through their Healthy Ireland / Local Community Development Committees. But a particular opportunity for further education and updating of drivers on road safety issues occurs during the times of mandatory vehicleNCT testing. It is a chance to put drivers through a form of ‘revision’ testing or at the least reminder points, while they await the results of their NCT. Cyclist.ie would also like to see taxi drivers undergo a Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) test.
Cyclist.ie wants to see targeted messaging of different population sectors to increase the impact of the messaging, as well as the introduction of specific programs for drivers having their vehicles NCT tested, and a CPC for taxi drivers.
1.10 Language Used in Messaging
So often in the media the use of language, in such descriptions as ‘cyclists versus cars’ or the continuous use of the term ‘accident’ when the word ‘collision’ or ‘crash’ is more appropriate, can lead to a perpetuation of the misguided assumption that people on bikes are somehow fundamentally different than people who drive. In the UK, guidelines are being developed to encourage responsible reporting around cycling road collisions and incidents, and to avoid particular language that can lead to the ‘othering’ of people on bikes. In short, those choosing to cycle or walk need to be spoken about as people using a particular form of transport – and, most likely, they will be multi-modalists, i.e. users of different transport modes for different trip types. We need to get away from the divisive language of ‘cyclist’ versus ‘motorist’ versus ‘pedestrian’ “at war with each other” as the tabloids unhelpfully describe it.
RSA and Gardaí interacting with posts on social media will allow opportunities to educate road users on issues they may have little understanding of. The addition of a cycling module in the rules of the road would help with this in the future but as a beachhead strategy, behaviours such as riding in primary position are not widely understood beyond those who cycle. Other misunderstandings will also present themselves and allow further education opportunities. Many UK police forces use their social media accounts for this purpose.
Cyclist.ie would like to see media guidelines developed on collision reporting, and general road incidents, in line with the developments taking place in the UK.
1.11 Rules of the Road and Driver Testing During this upcoming RSS we would like to see an open consultation process on suggested amendments to the RSA Rules of the Road (ROTR) publication, whereby stakeholders provide inputs on particular elements of the publication. Up until now, the process by which the ROTR publication was updated has been opaque.
Additionally, we recommend that there is a specific cycling module as part of the driver testing process, such that any prospective driver learns to understand the expected positioning of cyclists on the road, and their safety requirements. We would further strongly recommend that every trainee driver of a heavy goods vehicle needs to undertake on-bike training to understand experientially what it is like to be on a bike as part of the mix of vehicles in a busy (multi-lane) road environment. Currently, HGVs are over-represented in the road traffic statistics on serious and fatal collisions involving people on bikes.
Cyclist.ie wants to see an open consultation on the Rules of the Road publication, and the introduction of a specific cycling module as part of the driving test.
1.12 Reduce Emphasis on High-visibility Clothing as a Solution
While the ‘Be Safe-Be Seen’ message is important for all road users, the preponderance and ubiquity of RSA hi-viz jackets has sent out a message that walking or cycling is an inherently risky exercise. In court cases and inquests following incidents, the references to wearing or non-wearing of hi-viz has often skewed the verdict against the victims of the incidents. This emphasis on what the person cycling or walking needs to do to keep safe, creates a false impression that once you don hi-viz and/or a helmet you’re safe. It shifts the onus from the real source of danger, the large vehicle, the speeding vehicle, the drunk or distracted driver, or the unsafe infrastructure.
Hi-Viz is not a solution to road safety. The messaging and level of distribution of hi-viz has tended to ‘dangerise’ the simple acts of walking and cycling. Positive messaging, such as the safety, health and fun aspects of walking and cycling, and greater emphasis placed on road planning and driver behaviour, as illustrated in the hierarchy of controls graphic below, and all road schemes, whether, maintenance, upgrades or new developments, must include consideration of walking and cycling. PPE is at the bottom of this hierarchy.
Cyclist.ie would like to see greater emphasis on better planning of roads to factor in safe walking and cycling, greater emphasis on the safety, health and fun of cycling, and less emphasis on wearing of hi-viz by pedestrians and cyclists.
1.13 Working Together Groups
The proposal under the previous 2013-20 strategy of recommending the setting up of ‘Working Together’ groups in Local Authorities in order to progress the Strategy, was a positive idea. Unfortunately, as it was just a proposal, many Councils did not set them up, and the difference in approach to the Strategy varied from Council to Council. We propose that the setting up of these Working Together Groups in each Council area should be obligatory, and should contain at least the following representatives: Council officials and engineers; Councillors; Garda Traffic senior person; RSA representative; NGO sector groups, including cycling representatives.
Cyclist.ie recommends that the Local Authority Working Together groups be made mandatory for Councils to set up, and with an agreed membership.
Question 3: Any Comments on 2013-20 Strategy?
While a mid-term review of the 2013-20 strategy was carried out in 2016, we still await a final review of the Strategy in 2020. This necessary review is critical in evaluating the past strategy and in trying to shape the ambitious targets for the new 2021-30 strategy.
The 2013-20 Strategy specifically targeted a decrease in road fatalities to 124 in 2020. While road deaths have decreased considerably we note that the most recent available data shows that there have been 129 deaths already in 2020, so unfortunately this target will not be met.
Similarly, with serious injuries the previous strategy targeted a level of 330 serious injuries in 2020, as being ‘realistic’. But we know from the most recently available data in the RSA-Garda analysis from 2019, but related to 2014-2017, that serious injuries were increasing year on year, and had reached a level of 981 in 2017 nearly 3 times above the original target. 43% of these serious injuries were to pedestrians and cyclists, the most vulnerable of our road users.
So, as can be seen from the above data we have patently failed to meet the targets set out in the 2013-20 strategy. The question must be addressed as to what form targets should take, and how can we really move towards a Vision Zero, or Beyond Vision Zero strategy for the 2021-30 strategy?
While government departments and agencies were listed stakeholders in the previous 2013-20 strategy, no other NGO or Community stakeholders were listed. All stakeholders should have been listed, and the value of community and NGO stakeholders was borne out by a number of legislative and legal interventions during the period of the previous strategy.
Question 4: Any International Examples that would help improve Ireland’s Safety Performance?
Operation SNAP is a good example from Wales of the use of a dedicated online Police portal for the reporting of video footage of alleged traffic violations. http://gosafe.org/
1 – The Review of the 2013-20 strategy was published prior to advancing this new Strategy in order to ensure that all elements were captured. A few months delay in developing the new strategy would have little effect on the outcome.
2 – The initial consultation period was longer to allow local groups, NGOs, and individuals to fully consider the implications and possibilities within a new Strategy.
3 – Wider advertising of the Strategy 2021-30 consultation had been undertaken, to encourage greater participation and input from the wider population.