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Get to school on your own fuel

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 our interactive 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!  

Register your team here

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.)

Preview the scorecard here

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! 

We are looking forward to seeing your photos!

Photo Credit Anna Groneicka

launch of the vision for cycling in rural ireland

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: 

  1. Create an environment in our towns, villages, and rural roads where cyclists are expected and respected.
  2. Create and map useful, connected cycle routes throughout Local Authority areas.
  3. Implement best practice design so that routes are safe and comfortable for all ages and abilities.
  4. Prioritise safe cycle routes to schools and car-free zones at school gates.
  5. Lower Speed Limits to make our roads and streets safer and more accessible for everyone, and to reduce casualties.
  6. Ensure clear and timely access to funding by improving capacity at all levels of local and national government.
  7. Collaborate with all stakeholders – including cycling and community groups – at all stages of planning and design.
  8. 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. 

To find out more, add your support, share your feedback go to https://cyclist.ie/ruralvision/

ENDS

NOTES FOR EDITORS & LINKS TO HIGH-RES PHOTOS

AIMS

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.

MORE INFO

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/

Further information on Cyclist.ie’s Rural Cycling Collective is available here: https://cyclist.ie/2020/07/cyclist-ies-rural-collective/

Our vision can be found here:
https://cyclist.ie/ruralvision/

You might also like to check out the blog of the Leitrim Cycling Festival and their article on The Rural Cycling Collective and why its worth shouting about it!

SPOKESPERSONS

Joan Swift, Sligo Cycling Campaign, a member group of Cyclist.ie
Phone: 087-9622234
Email: [email protected]

Anluan Dunne, Kerry Cycling Campaign, a member group of Cyclist.ie
Phone: 085-703-6888
Email:  [email protected]

Dr. Damien Ó Tuama, National Cycling Coordinator, Cyclist.ie and An Taisce
Phone: 087-2840799
Email: [email protected] 

PHOTOS

High-Resolution photos to use in Media from one of the launch event held in Clonakilty, Co Cork (event hosted by the Clonakilty Bicycle Festival)

1 – Mum & Daughter ‘ A vision for cycling is a vision for the future’ credit Anna Groniecka https://drive.google.com/file/d/1yeyjkV_YBBa42x_uhZgjLdkGlTqoWXN5/view?usp=sharing

2- Father & Son – safe routes to school – credit –  Anna Groniecka https://drive.google.com/file/d/1Aj6kp8Do6x-pXU-HRyTI9NizS7m-uSfx/view?usp=sharing

3 – Ari Grounds – I want to cycle more – credit Anna Groniecka https://drive.google.com/file/d/1HpJXbFA_qDHl6XEr3Jx1iZ_Ox9r4_2XF/view?usp=sharing

4- Young girl – lower speeds credit Anna Groniecka https://drive.google.com/file/d/1BOB2md5o6OMVIPSO4q__MgxxPQ3vMkEr/view?usp=sharing

5 – Street scene in Clonakilty – no credit needed https://drive.google.com/file/d/1hkUqJzXd7VUgQeNc4uHx0ixCbMPlpmQw/view?usp=sharing

Please include credit where included in the .jpeg name.

Kildare Town – Council Fails to Provide for Cycling

(This post previously appeared on the Maynooth Cycling Campaign website)

Kildare County Council recently carried out Covid-19 works in Kildare Town. Part of the works included the reallocation of space in the town square from car parking to tables and benches for people to sit and relax. The change in the environment from a place dominated by cars to a place for people to linger is striking and has deservedly been warmly welcomed.

However, the same cannot be said of the second works in the town on Cleamore Road (Academy Street). Cleamore Road is approximately 250m long and contains a school, community building, shops, factory unit and private houses. Its cross section varies from 7.5m at the lower section, 8-9m in the middle section and increases to 15m at the upper end. Traffic has been restricted to one direction and footpaths have been widened to give more room for social distancing.  The photographs below show the result of the works.

Kildare Town Covid Works

Cyclists from the north west of the town have to take a circuitous diversionary route via Grey Abbey Road to access the school as no contraflow cycle track has been provided. Rather than providing a School Street or School Zone to enable children to safely cycle to school, the work is more likely to encourage cycling on the footpath than to encourage more cyclists.

The works have been heavily criticised by cycle campaigners for its failure to properly provide for cycling. Covid funding was intended to provide for increased walking and cycling, not walking OR cycling. Over 1000 children attend the adjacent St Brigid’s School but according to the 2016 Census, only 7 children cycled to primary school. As can be seen from the photograph, cyclists are expected to share the road with cars.  Few parents allow young children to share the roads with cars anywhere, so why does the Council expect them to do so in Kildare Town?

Kildare County Council made a short video of the works which can be seen here. A council engineer describes how the works allowed the footpath on one side  to be widened a minimum of 3m and on the other side to nearly as much. While this is true of the lower section, it is patently untrue in relation to the middle section. As can be seen from the photograph, there is room for parking on both sides of the road and a footpath on just one side ( and also hatching for vehicles) but there is no room for a dedicated cycle path. To crown matters, parking on the west side is perpendicular to the road – just what is needed for reversing cars to deter any cyclists with doubts about cycling safety. Further along the road, there are road markings which indicate “Private Parking” in front of the factory unit so the Council acquiesces in the decision to allocate public space to parking for a private company. The Design Manual for Urban Roads and Streets sets out a road user hierarchy with pedestrians at the top, followed by cyclists and with drivers of private cars at the bottom. The design for Cleamore Road ignores this but councils get away with such decisions as they are judge and jury on the matter.

In Ireland, cycling has flatlined nationally for the last twenty years. Unless Kildare County Council starts to provide high quality cycle infrastructure,  it won’t change in Kildare for the next twenty. In the July Stimulus,  Kildare only received half the allocation of similar commuting counties such as Meath and Wicklow. If the council continues to ignore the needs of cyclists with designs such as Cleamore Street and even worse recent examples in other Municipal Districts, Kildare will be lucky to get half in the future.

Putting ‘Greyways’ under the microscope – a view from Wexford

We have posted previously on this website on the Government’s 2020 Stimulus Package for Active Travel. There are lots of good projects and proposals in there, but some worrying expenditure proposals, particularly on the conversion of hard shoulders on old N routes to cycle routes that are referred to as greyways.

The term suggests some sort of formal category of cycle facility; however, these routes unfortunately tend to be little more than white lines painted inside the hard shoulder and are then called cycle tracks! They are a poor use of taxpayers’ money, when funds could be directed to more standard designs which would be safer for all ages and abilities, and encourage non-cyclists to get on their bikes.

A ‘greyway’ near Clogh Village, County Wexford

Wexford is one of the counties that received funding to build greyways. Phil Skelton, of our local Wexford Cycling Advocacy network group WexBug, has posted a blog on the proposed introduction of a new greyway in Wexford, in which he outlines the mistakes of the past, and queries the wisdom of its expenditure under this Stimulus Funding Package.

Check out Phil’s blog here. He makes cogent arguments about the need for proper considered design and for a comprehensive safety audit. This is a must-read for anyone working on rural cycling!

Note that the image at the top shows a ‘greyway’ on the R445 (i.e. the old N7) between Nenagh and Birdhill.

Cycle network plans and leadership – a winning combination

By Jo Sachs-Eldridge – Transport Planner / Leitrim Cycling Festival

As George Monbiot so beautifully put it “Transport has always been about so much more than transport. It’s about the way we live.“

And now is the time to make a real difference to the way we all live.

We have unprecedented levels of support for active travel in the Programme for Government. More specifically this Government has committed to:

‘Mandate that every local authority, with assistance from the National Transport Authority (NTA), adopts a high-quality cycling policy, carries out an assessment of their roads network and develops cycle network plans, which will be implemented with the help of a suitably qualified Cycling Officer with clear powers and roles.’

We greatly welcome the Government’s recent commitment of funding as part of the Active Travel stimulus. What we now need is investment in the other elements – the policy changes, the network planning and the technical, professional and organisational capital to make it happen.

And, critically, our Government needs to lead on this. Yes, we need local champions in local authorities. But they can’t be expected to do it alone. They need direction, they need support to produce ambitious plans and they need training to build capacity.

And the driver for all of this has to be leadership from our national government. Without that leadership and an over reliance on local champions, the disparity between urban and rural will continue to grow, as cities are more likely to have the capacity and resources to make the changes we need and rural Ireland will again be left behind.

Without leadership there is a danger that the  funding is unlikely to have a real impact on the way people travel for everyday journeys – in our cities, towns, villages and countryside.

Active Travel Wales Act 2013

In 2013 our near neighbours passed the Active Travel Wales Act which placed a duty on all local authorities to create and maintain not just road networks, but walking and cycling networks too. And it stipulated that the routes developed in this Act should cater for “active travel journeys” which they defined as

‘a journey made to or from a workplace or educational establishment or in order to access health, leisure or other services or facilities.’

In other words these were not primarily leisure routes, these were routes which would replace journeys made by motorised transport.

This Act was a world first. An exciting step change.

Or so we thought.

Unfortunately the Active Travel Wales Act has not achieved what it should have in the years since it was ratified. With the exception of the capital, Cardiff, cycling levels in Welsh towns and cities remain stubbornly low. Reports suggest this is down to a lack of leadership, a lack of funding and a lack of engagement/understanding within various local authorities.

With a mandate here in Ireland that has a similar ambition – to plan and create networks of routes in every authority – let’s not make the same mistakes, let’s learn from our nearest neighbours. They too saw the value in network plans. Yet they haven’t made them a reality. Not yet anyway. But rather than dismissing the value of the Act, let us show them how it can be done. With a clear mandate, a Minister of Transport who is fully supportive and funding available – now is our opportunity.

The value of cycle network plans

I was part of the advisory group that developed the initial guidance to accompany the Active Travel Act and I authored much of the chapter on network planning, based on my experience in Cardiff Council where I had previously worked as the Cycling Officer within the Transport Policy team.

Based on that experience in Cardiff, I still passionately believe that evidence-based, ambitious, strategic cycle network plans have huge value. They matter because, if used well they can be key to making the changes we need in terms of funding, ownership, understanding, integration, engagement and, crucially, behaviour change. 

When I started out in Cardiff the numbers cycling were surprisingly low considering how compact the city is, the large student population, the size and how green and flat it is. There were no excuses. Now Cardiff is rated by some as one of the best cities for cyclists across the UK.

A huge part of this revolution is thanks to having a well developed cycle network plan and using that plan to its absolute fullest.

(It’s worth noting that Cardiff created a network plan prior to the Act coming into legislation and that plan and its implementation has continued to evolve and receive funding since its inception, so Cardiff has gone against the broader trend in Wales.)

What did developing a good network plan and using it to its fullest look like?

1.            The plan was developed based on real desire lines. Local Transport Projects (a transport planning and engineering company with expertise in cycling), who were  appointed to develop the original network plan for the city, used a broad range of qualitative and quantitative research to identify the real desire lines across the city, the routes people really needed to be able to cycle to work, to shops, to school, to socialise.

2.      The plan was developed in consultation with user groups, advocacy groups, disability groups and the wider public.

3.      The plan was used as a means of demonstrating the city’s ambitions, to engender the idea that cycling was a real alternative – and that this cycle network was an important part of the city’s future.

4. The plan was used as a way of engaging with internal officers – particularly road safety, traffic management, signal engineers and development control officers. This internal engagement was key, as these are the people that have the power to ‘design out’ the usability of a route or even just to block it entirely. We developed the guidance in partnership with them, we held training sessions, we acted as if they mattered. Because they did. Without their support, building quality routes would be almost impossible.        

5.   The plan allowed us to increase our funding from within the local transport budget and via Welsh Government and regional funding pots because we had evidence and data to back up our funding bids.

6.   Having a network plan also allowed cycling to be integrated with other strategic transport plans. This allowed for schemes to be developed in conjunction with each other and funding to be allocated on a meaningful basis.

7. Because we had a five year plan we could do our design work well in advance. This gave us the time to really look at options, gather feedback, to really listen – all the things that make good design possible. Reallocating space on our roads is not a simple process. There are many different functions and many different users. Good design takes time. If used well strategic plans can give us that gift of time to help make sure we get it right.

For these reasons, and more, Cyclist.ie wants every local authority in Ireland to have developed and adopted coherent, ambitious, strategic cycle network plans by 2022.

This need for network plans is vital for both our urban centres and our rural areas. Network planning in these environments may be different beasts in many ways (for example as part of our Vision for Cycling in Rural Ireland, we are calling on our government to recognise our smaller rural roads as Rothar Roads and to reduce speed limits accordingly to enable the space to be shared safely), but there are also many obvious overlaps. All network plans should be based on the same principles of catering for desire lines, of connecting trip attractors to trip generators, and of being safe, direct, coherent and attractive for all users.

There are many, many great reasons to have a network plan, a really good network plan

We all know this. That is why it is there in our Programme for Government. But it can’t simply be left to our local authorities.

We need real leadership to make sure that mandate is followed. Otherwise nothing will change.

What might that national leadership look like?

Lead by saying cycling is a genuine transport priority.

Lead by investing in the technical guidance, professional development and training needed to make change happen (if this requires external expertise, get it and use it to grow local know-how and future talent.)

Lead by challenging Local Authorities to do better:

– create really great cycle network plans that are based on real desire lines and through collaboration with all of the people that matter;

– secure funding to build them;

– integrate the network plans with all other relevant plans and strategies such as the Local Development Plans; and

– get very good at building high quality, useful routes.

Then we can really start to change the way we live.

Jo Sachs-Eldridge

[email protected] / [email protected]

@CyclingLeitrim
https://leitrimcyclingfestival.com/

cyclist.ie at TEDx Rethink Ireland Countdown event

Cyclist.ie is delighted to have been invited to speak at the ‘TEDxRethinkIreland presents Countdown’ event this Monday 12th October at 2.30pm.

Countdown is a global initiative to champion and accelerate solutions to the climate crisis, turning ideas into action. It is a year-long focus on climate change led by TED and a coalition of leaders, activists, scientists, and businesses around the world, leading to COP 26 in October 2021. The goal is to build a better future by cutting greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030 in the race to a zero-carbon world – a world that is safer, cleaner, and fairer for everyone.

Cyclist.ie will be represented at the TEDx event by Dr. Damien Ó Tuama, National Cycling Coordinator with Cyclist.ie and An Taisce. In his talk, Damien will set out Cyclist.ie’s vision for a low carbon mobility system in which active travel is a core component.

You can register for the event via Event Brite here

During the event itself you will also hear from:

Deirdre Mortell, CEO and Founder of Rethink Ireland 
Deirdre has been the CEO of ONE Foundation and held senior roles in fundraising & communications in Oxfam and Barnardos.

ECO–UNESCO Ireland’s Environmental Education & Youth Organisation that works to conserve the environment and empower young people.

Burrenbeo Trust a charity dedicated to reconnecting us with our landscape and our role in caring for it.

Green Sod Ireland a land and biodiversity trust with gifted Wild Acres in its care – creating safe habitats, facilitating the free movement of wildlife vital for biodiversity all over Ireland.

Cyclist.ie 10 Asks & Budget 2021

It is almost eight months since General Election 2020 (Saturday 8th February – although it feels like several years ago) and since Cyclist.ie published its “#GE2020 10 Asks to Make Cycling Better & Safer for All” as shown in the graphic below. 

And it is coming up to four months since the final Programme for Government was published (mid-June 2020). 

Last week Cyclist.ie delivered its Pre-budget 2021 Submission to the Minister for Finance, so over the coming fortnight we will be monitoring very carefully how our “10 Asks to Make Cycling Better & Safer for All” will have shaped Budget 2021 (taking place on Tue 13th October). 

As we learn to live with Covid-19 and begin to recast our visions for transport, housing and energy in response to the urgent need to decarbonise our lives, there is no better time to transform our mobility systems and to invest in high quality cycling infrastructure countrywide. Keep in touch with us over the coming weeks as – we hope – a new picture for the future of transport in Ireland begins to emerge.

RETHINK IRELAND FUND SUCCESS FOR CYCLIST.IE

Cyclist.ie is delighted to announce that we are one of the successful applicants in the first phase of Rethink Ireland’s Innovate Together Fund. This follows the formal announcement by Rethink Ireland last week  – particularly exciting news to receive during National Bike Week, probably our busiest week of the year!  

A total of 51 projects are being funded in the first phase of Rethink Ireland’s Innovate Together Fund, following applications for grants by 481 projects. The fund is all about supporting innovative responses to the pandemic, and Cyclist.ie sees cycling and active travel as very much part of an appropriate societal response to the situation in which we find ourselves. The Innovate Together Fund is supported by the Department of Rural and Community Development via the Dormant Accounts Fund.

The focus on cycling through the Change Our Streets campaign aligns with a Europe-wide trend of reallocating road space to pedestrians and cyclists, reducing speed limits, and introducing other interventions such as ‘filtered permeability’ schemes – all with the aim of changing the conditions to enable more people to choose to cycle. This trend has been reported widely in the international press – see for example the Guardian’s articles (from May 2020) on How coronavirus will transform transport in Britain’s cities and Covid-19 prompts world’s cities to free public space of cars – and in the domestic media such as the Irish Times’ editorial of 27 July 2020 which argued that the “pandemic has strengthened the case for getting more commuters cycling and walking” – see the Irish Times view on cycling infrastructure: a tipping point. As recently as today, the 2nd of October 2020, the BBC reported on ‘Coronavirus: How pandemic sparked European cycling revolution’. All of these developments are now being systematically tracked by the European Cyclists’ Federation (ECF), of which Cyclist.ie is the member for Ireland, with its Covid Measures Tracker.  

The project builds on some fine campaigning work in which Galway Cycling Campaign, the Irish Pedestrian Network and Cyclist.ie focused on speeding and the need for  safe, usable space  across the country, for people to shop, exercise and commute by active travel means during the crisis. This initiative was supported by The Irish Heart Foundation, the Irish Cancer Society and the Association for Health Promotion Ireland – see the Irish Heart Foundation joins call for safer streets. The project also builds on the work of Better Ennis with, for example, their open letter to  the local Council requesting healthier streets during the pandemic. Huge credit is due to campaigners across the country advancing this advocacy work as it has raised the profile of the issues and of the need for Local Authorities (LAs) to engage more fully on public health matters.  

The essence of this Rethink Ireland funded project is around strengthening the capacity of Cyclist.ie as an effective non-governmental organisation (NGO) to create further change. This means:

–          Building up our knowledge base at local, national and international levels on what is happening to enable cycling during the pandemic (e.g. by drawing on the ECF Covid Tracker tool referred to above)

–          Engaging constructively with LAs countrywide (e.g. through the Transportation or Infrastructure Strategic Policy Committees (SPCs) on which some local Cyclist.ie member groups are represented – and through further direct contacts with officials)

–          Building wider support and alliances for Cyclist.ie’s advocacy work – with businesses, health bodies and other NGOs. On this, Cyclist.ie draws great inspiration from Dropbox’s support for cycling advocacy through its endorsement of the work of Dublin Cycling Campaign (a member group of Cyclist.ie) – see Campaigning Moves up a Gear with the Support of Dropbox 

–          Engaging with the new Minister for Transport on cycling.

In short, the project is all about building on what Cyclist.ie has been working on since its foundation in 2008, but with the heightened urgency that Covid has prompted. As set out in our funding application in May, the success with Rethink Ireland’s Innovate Together Fund enables Cyclist.ie’s National Cycling Coordinator, Dr. Damien Ó Tuama, to transition from a part-time role towards a full-time position in cycling advocacy. This, in turn, will help to nurture the further growth of effective cycle campaigning countrywide – see the map showing the growing array of cycling advocacy bodies all around Ireland (currently being updated to include new members). Ultimately, this project will support the emergence of strong cycling cultures at local community levels nationwide during and beyond the pandemic.  

Once again, Cyclist.ie wishes to sincerely thank Rethink Ireland and the funders of the Innovate Together Fund. We also wish to acknowledge the Cyclist.ie Executive Committee for their input on the funding proposal back in May 2020. We see this funding success as a further stepping stone in strengthening cycling advocacy in Ireland.

Finally, we wish to note here that Cyclist.ie continues to appreciate its strategic partnerships with An Taisce and with Cycling Ireland. These partnerships help to cement cycling advocacy within broader movements around creating a more sustainable system and a healthier population in Ireland.  

Vicar St, Kilkenny – cyclist.ie submission

Cyclist.ie sent the submission below to Kilkenny County Council on 2nd October 2020 in respect to the “Part 8” planning application by the Council for its Vicar Street Improvement Development – details here: https://consult.kilkenny.ie/en/consultation/vicar-street-improvement-development.

We broadly welcome the scheme concept, but there are several aspects of the proposals – particularly the details of the junctions – which need revisiting in order to enhance the cycling offer.

Delivering submissions to national and local authorities is one important strand of Cyclist.ie’s work aimed at re-normalising everyday cycling in Ireland.

Dear Sir / Madam, 

On behalf of An Taisce and Cyclist.ie, I welcome the opportunity to respond to the above Part 8 consultation in regard to the Vicar Street Improvement Development. 

An Taisce is the National Trust for Ireland and Cyclist.ie is the umbrella body of cycle advocacy groups in Ireland and the member for Ireland of the European Cyclists’ Federation. This is a joint submission on behalf of both organisations. 

Below are our observations. 

  1. We strongly welcome the overall concept to make Vicar Street one-way for general traffic, but providing a contra-flow track for people on bikes moving northbound. This will result in an overall improvement in cycling conditions on this street. 
  2. In the context of the available space, we support the proposal for southbound cyclists to share the general traffic lane when heading towards St. Canice’s Place. However, we feel the proposal would be enhanced further if traffic calming measures were provided on this street so as to keep motor vehicle speeds low. Some mixture of speed cushions and raised tables would seem appropriate here – and perhaps also the addition of some trees to provide a visual narrowing of the road and hence create a more ‘room-like’ feeling to the street. This would suggest driving at a slower and safe speed where drivers are guests on the street. 
  3. The cycle track design would be enhanced further if there was physical segregation between the contra-flow cycle track and the general carriageway – ideally a low kerbing / having the cycle track as a ‘raised adjacent’ surface (see Section 4.3.5 of the National Transport Authority’s National Cycle Manual – https://www.cyclemanual.ie/manual/designing/flowchart/). 
  4. In regard to having cyclists and pedestrians at the same level as shown in the cross sections A-A and B-B on Drawing no XXX, we strongly recommend that there is a level difference between the cycling space and the pedestrian space here so to reduce conflicts. 
  5. Junction of Vicar Street and Troy’s Gate / Green Street. As currently proposed, the shape of the traffic-island at this junction will make it difficult for a cyclist to turn right from the contra-flow cycle track onto Green Street. The designers need to reshape this traffic island so as to provide an obvious space for cyclists to position themselves to stop and to turn right. 
  6. Junction of St. Canice’s Place and Vicar Street. As currently proposed, the shape of the traffic-island at this junction will make it very difficult for a cyclist to turn right from St. Canice’s Place onto the contra-flow cycle track on Vicar Street. The designers need to reshape this traffic island so as to make this manoeuvre easier. . 
  7. Junction of St. Canice’s Place and Vicar Street – signage. The proposed signage at this junction needs to make it very clear that cyclists are exempted from the prohibition for vehicles turning into Vicar Street. 
  8. The opportunity should be availed of to provide cycle stands at appropriate locations on or adjacent to the street so as to further encourage cycling. 

I would be very grateful if you could acknowledge receipt of this submission. 

Thank you. 

Yours faithfully,

Dr. Damien Ó Tuama
National Cycling Coordinator, 
Cyclist.ie http://cyclist.ie/ and An Taisce https://www.antaisce.org/

Cyclist.ie Seeks Academic Partner – Irish Research Council Funded Scheme

The Irish Research Council’s New Foundations scheme supports eligible researchers who intend to pursue research, networking and/or dissemination activities within and across the diversity of disciplines. This scheme provides support for research actions, the development of networks and consortia, conference and workshop development, and capacity building for interdisciplinary collaboration. See http://research.ie/funding/new-foundations/. 

As summarised in The Wheel’s article:

The Engaging Civic Society strand [of the New Foundations scheme] will support small, discrete collaborative projects between academic researchers (the applicants to the Call) and an NGO or community/voluntary organisation. Awards for this strand are valued up to a maximum of €12,000. Successful awardees under this strand will develop a research idea or project, test a concept or theory, and/or develop partnerships or activities. 

As a registered charity, Cyclist.ie has uploaded its details to the IRC’s webpage here – see the right-hand panel and the link to the Excel sheet called “Charities/NGOs/CVOs seeking an Academic Partner (updated regularly)”. In that table, we have outlined some of the areas we think require investigation. In summary these are: 

– Capturing the benefits of cycling from environmental, economic, social and health perspectives in appraisal frameworks used in an Irish context
– Improving the diversity of people cycling
– Legislative changes to improve conditions for walking and cycling in Ireland
– Psychology of driving with respect to cyclists 
– Road traffic law enforcement
– Approaches to cycling advocacy 

More details are provided within the IRC web page above. 

If you are a researcher and are interested in exploring these topics in more detail while partnering with Cyclist.ie, please visit the IRC website above, and contact Dr. Damien Ó Tuama, National Cycling Coordinator with Cyclist.ie and An Taisce with any queries.
Email: damien.otuama[at]antaisce.org.  

Pre-Budget 2021 submission

Cyclist.ie delivered our Pre-Budget 2021 Submission to the Department of Finance earlier today. You can read it immediately below. A PDF version can also be found here. A big thanks to our hard-working Executive Committee and wider team for preparing the submission.

Make the Programme for Government a Reality!
Ensure 10% of Transport Capital Funding is Allocated to Creating High Quality Conditions for Cycling Countrywide

1 – Introduction 

Cyclist.ie, the Irish Cycling Advocacy Network, is the umbrella body of cycling advocacy groups in Ireland (http://cyclist.ie/) and the member for Ireland of the European Cyclists’ Federation (https://ecf.com/). Our vision is that cycling, as a mode of transport, becomes a normal part of everyday life for all ages and abilities in Ireland. 

As recognised in the new Programme for Government (PfG), cycling as a mode of transport offers numerous well documented benefits to society, including:

  • improved public health (especially important in this Covid period)
  • reduced congestion 
  • reduced greenhouse gas emissions     
  • reduced air and noise pollution 
  • increased mobility (again, especially important in this Covid period when numbers that can safely use public transport are greatly reduced)
  • more liveable and sociable streets and communities
  • high rates of economic return on investment 

Unlocking these benefits requires targeted and sustained investment, and international evidence demonstrates that investing in cycling provides excellent value for money. 

Cyclist.ie needs to see the promises made in the Programme for Government (PfG) become reality, with clear timelines instituted so as to ensure that the various commitments made are followed through. 

We outline our budget recommendations below under the following four headings

  • Taxation and Fiscal Policy directions to create modal-shift
  • Institutional Changes (with a Budgetary Dimension)
  • Interventions to ensure all cycling infrastructure, both urban and rural, meets the highest standards 
  • Legislative Changes and Promotion of Cycling

Cycling delivers multiple benefits to society and it is essential that good habits are developed at the school-going age. Photo by Anna Groniecka at the ‘Back to School on Your Own Fuel’ campaign

2 – Taxation and Fiscal Policy directions to create modal-shift

  • 10% of the transport capital expenditure annual budget on cycling projects / €360M per annum – as per the PfG. This is essential, and once achieved it must be maintained year-on-year. Allocations for cycling development to be accounted for separately from other sustainable transport measures.
  • Increasing duty on diesel over four years to match petrol so as to improve air quality. Duty levels on fuels to be reviewed year on year.
  • Road-pricing policies in major cities to be researched immediately, with a view to implementation by 2022.
  • Parking levies legislation to be introduced with a view to encouraging greater sustainable transport use, and curbing car use. 
  • All Fixed Charge Penalty Offence (FCPO) fines, impacting on Vulnerable Road User Safety, to be markedly increased, to support more efficient use of road space.  
  • Subsidies for e-bikes to be increased, similar to e-cars. SEAI grants for e-bikes especially e-cargo bikes, need to be part of the Grants Package. 
  • VAT reduction on bikes and bike repairs, to encourage greater sales and usage. 
  • Mileage / km allowances for cycling, to encourage greater use of commuting by bike, similar to Belgium 
  • Fleets of bikes for state and semi-state employees to use instead of cars for some work journeys
  • Provision of covered secure bike parking for all major transport hubs / interchanges, shopping and service centres, and in particular in schools and colleges.
  • Transport Stimulus Fund for ‘quick wins’ for each local authority, every year, to drive modal shift. I.e. schemes which can be advanced quickly without the need for planning approval. 
  • Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, NTA, RSA and TII officials to do study tours to NL, DK and UK (for example) and systematically disseminate the knowledge gained widely within the Irish public / civil service. 
  • Provide support for bike mechanic training programmes.
  • Expansion of bike to work scheme (recent changes welcome) to be more inclusive with focus on low earners, students, and unwaged. 
  • Funds to enable the retrofitting of train carriages for increased carriage of bicycles, and the future purchase of appropriate carriages to meet EU bike carrying capacity requirements. 

3 – Institutional Changes (with a Budgetary Dimension)

National Level Departments / Agencies

  • Create and resource appropriately within the Department of Transport, a National Cycling Coordination Office headed at senior level. This would be primarily focused on ensuring coordination on policy, standards, and expenditure across government departments. 
  • Establish a major new National Cycling Authority, possibly within the existing NTA, to manage  Local / Regional cycle design offices, as sub-units of the NTA – so that there is proper oversight on the planning and the quality of all cycling schemes in ALL local authorities 
  • Address the need for the standardisation of planning processes, consultations, and transparency across all local authorities. All planning proposals should be searchable and viewable online, and the processes open and transparent. Parity of esteem and parity of information is required between active travel and road schemes. 

Local Authorities

  • Require every Local Authority to commission and oversee the implementation of a high quality cycling policy and strategy. This would encompass the three main strands of
    (i) ‘policy planning (structure for continuous dialogue with users, target setting, resources, training, adopted policy doc),
    (ii) ‘actions’ (infrastructure, including the development of ambitious strategic cycle network plans, promotion / soft measures, staffing resources)
    (iii) monitoring / evaluation of policy and . 
  • Require the appointment of Cycling Officers at Director of Services level in all Local Authorities, with a remit: 
    • To produce and oversee the implementation of the above high quality cycling policy
    • To set targets and effect modal change at local level
    • To ensure adequate staffing resources for active travel development in line with PfG, and to oversee any required re-allocation of staff internally.
    • To set up a Local Authority Active Travel Forum (this could be sub-committee of the Transport Strategic Policy Committee) where stakeholder views are adequately represented.
  •  Develop a clear policy for Cycling in Rural Ireland. See: https://cyclist.ie/ruralvision/. Cycling needs to be a countrywide issue, not just an issue for major urban centres. The opportunities are there and these can also support local economic and social development. 

Ensure updated and realistic comparative assessment of all projects by reviewing the Government’s Common Appraisal Framework(CAF), and Strategic Investment Framework for Land Transport(SFILT), etc

  • Update the Common Appraisal Framework (CAF) so that investments in schemes which promote healthier and low carbon travel are properly recognised for their broad societal benefits. The WHO ‘HEAT’ tool needs to be fully embedded into the CAF.  
  • Review the Strategic Investment Framework for Land Transport (SFILT)  to reflect the declaration of a health emergency by the WHO, and the declaration of a climate emergency by the Dáil, necessitating the decarbonisation of the transport system. 

4 – Interventions to Improve the Quality of Cycling Infrastructure

The commitment in the PfG to fund cycling is quite explicit. The focus now needs to be on how to deliver high quality routes which will enable people of all ages and abilities (the “8 to 80 cohort”) to make the choice to switch to active travel.

  • Prioritise as a matter of urgency a review of design standards
    • to ensure design and construction of safe high quality routes in line with best international practice
    • to ensure design consistency across agencies, institutions, and local authorities
  • The main standards / guidelines for review are:
    • National Cycle Manual
    • Rural Cycleway Standards
    • Design Manual for Urban Roads & Streets (DMURS)

These should all dovetail with each other

  • Establish Local / Regional Cycle Design Offices – sub-units of the NTA – so that there is proper oversight of the quality of all cycling schemes in all local authorities (as opposed to just some schemes in some LA areas as is the current situation). Consultancy staff will need to be deployed as appropriate. This will ensure available expertise for local authorities for quick delivery of high quality projects
  • Set up accelerated training programs for local authority staff in sustainable mobility design and implementation. 
  • Every Local Authority to develop ambitious strategic cycle network plans for their towns and at a county level. 
  • Covid cycling schemes. Ensure that the NTA systematically monitors the quality and use of all ‘quick-to-construct’ schemes with a view to feeding this knowledge into design standards and further plans by Local Authorities. 
  • Currently cycling schemes are designed by a range of bodies – the NTA, TII, by local authorities or by consultants working for any of the above, hence the need for improved coordination and consistency of design.
    Funding should not be provided for low quality schemes that do not meet the required design standards.

5 – Legislative Changes and Promotion of Cycling

  • Resource and expedite Legislative Changes to prioritise active travel measures within an agreed time-frame. This is critical to support the growth of active travel.   
  • Introduce legislation so that 30km/h becomes the default speed limit in all built-up areas, and Councils can then introduce exceptions to these limits where it is deemed safe and appropriate. 
  • Cycle promotion, especially among marginalised groups. The same sophistication used in car advertising and marketing needs to be applied to sell active travel. 
    • This video example from Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council (DLRCC) is an example of what is possible

Screen shot from DLRCC’s video on the new Coastal Mobility Route (link above)

  • Cycle Training, via the Cycle Right program, needs to be expanded further, with adequate funding to ensure that local authorities can offer cycle training for all levels and ages including on-street training. 
  • Provide funding support for Active Travel advocacy so that the wider societal benefits of investing in cycling are understood – and that community support can be nurtured for high quality schemes etc.  
  • Include Cyclist.ie as a stakeholder under Section 82 of the Planning and Development Regulations 2001. 
  • Support the creation for Ireland of a tool equivalent to the Propensity to Cycle Tool (https://www.pct.bike/) as developed by Rachel Aldred for England & Wales. This would use Census data and would assist local communities in developing higher levels of cycling. 

Colm Ryder,
Chairperson,
Cyclist.ie – the Irish Cycling Advocacy Network
The Tailors’ Hall,
Back Lane,
Dublin, D08 X2A3.

Submission on Grand Canal Greenway Turraun to Shannon Harbour

Grand Canal near NAAS

1.0 Introduction

Cyclist.ie is Ireland’s national cycling advocacy network, and the Irish member of the European Cyclists Federation. We are delighted to make this submission to Offaly County Council in relation to the proposed greenway along the Grand Canal from Turraun to Shannon Harbour, on behalf of the thousands of everyday cyclists throughout the country.

This proposed scheme has the general potential to encourage greater levels of walking and cycling locally in the immediate area. The scheme will also be a vital link in the overall Grand Canal Greenway extending from Dublin to the Shannon, and is a key element of the greater Offaly cycling development plan. It will undoubtedly open up commercial opportunities for increased visitor numbers and links to the various attractions in the area, and throughout the county.

We are happy to see local authorities proposing schemes that provide for vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and cyclists, and encourage sustainable travel. Overall we are supportive of this scheme and the basic design quality. We commend Offaly CC for advancing this proposal, but have a number of comments to make, and seek clarification on, in relation to the posted documentation, which we feel is not comprehensive enough, and is of a cursory nature.

2.0 Specific Comments

While overall we respect the desire to implement this design, we are disappointed that there are limited design details or cross sections available in this Part 8 at critical points that make it difficult to assess the final design viability. We would also comments in general on the Part 8 documentation, as follows:

  • The layout of the drawings in this published Part 8 is initially confusing and counter intuitive. Despite the description of the route in the Part 8 documentation as from Turraun to Shannon Harbour, the drawing sequence and kilometrage runs in the opposite direction. It is initially very confusing, and difficult to navigate.
  • The level of detail on the actual drawings is very poor, and should have been enhanced by insertion of actual images at particular points on the main drawings, as well as specific cross sections, to enable proper assessment of the proposals.
  • Not enough detail is supplied at road crossings in relation to the proposed signage. While we assume that Offaly County Council will comply with the necessary signage, it is incumbent on the Council to provide clear details of the proposed signage and safety measures.
  • No details are supplied of links through Shannon Harbour and beyond. The canal towpath greenway ends abruptly alongside the canal at Shannon Harbour, with no indication or discussion of access through the village or on to Banagher. This is a deficiency in the Planning Report.
  • There is no mention or discussion on any proposed information and route signage or special features, to add to the experience of the Greenway user. This once again is a deficit in the planning report
  • Clear drawing details should have been supplied in particular for the under bridge accesses proposed at L’Estrange Bridge, Judges Bridge, and Gallen (Armstrong) Bridge. To literally just state, that ‘Railings and chicanes (will be installed) on greenway on approaches to ….. Bridge’ is not acceptable. Full details and drawings should have been posted.
  • The proposed greenway surfacing is either quarry dust or surface dressing throughout. This is not the preferred surface type for the average cyclist. Cyclist.ie wants to see a smooth asphalt type surface for all greenway routes, as this type of surface helps to reduce falls and skids, and enables easier access for prams and wheelchairs. A quarry dust or surface dressing surface does not give a smooth ride, can be a cause of skids and slips, and generally requires a higher level of maintenance.

3.0 Conclusion/Summary

While Cyclist.ie broadly welcomes these proposals to link the existing Grand Canal Greenway to Shannon Harbour, we are disappointed with:

  • The Part 8 documentation details of the proposed scheme, as outlined above
  • The lack of clarity and detail at specific points along the proposed route, including road signage and under-bridge details
  • The development/description of cycle links into Shannon Harbour village and beyond
  • The fact that there is no mention of potential route enhancement features to attract users and visitors
  • The surfacing proposals as outlined are not of the required cyclists’ standard

We hope our comments will be taken on board, and we are available at any stage to discuss any of the items raised above.