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Election 2020

It’s election time and Cyclist.ie is eagerly awaiting the release of the full complement of party manifestos.We are anxious to see which parties “get” cycling. Will any any party show an awareness of the potential of properly resourced cycling infrastructure to transform our cities? Cycling can get people to work, school or college on time. It can combat congestion, lead to reduced noise levels and improved air-quality. It can contribute to reduced GHG emissions and this help to meet our climate targets. Will any party back safe routes to school and school streets? While we await the manifestos we have summarised the current party policies on cycling. The grid does not include FG as it is assumed that since they have been in office for 2 terms their policy is what they have done in that time-frame. Note; while we did not find distinct cycling policies for every party all except FG supported the historic FF Dáil motion (amended by the Greens) exactly one year ago in Jan ’19 which voted to allocate 10% of the land transport budget to cycling.

Dropbox to Support Dublin Cycling Campaign

On Thursday 23rd January 2020, Dropbox will formally launch its initiative to support everyday cycling in Ireland at an event in its European Headquarters in Hatch Street in Dublin. Dropbox has agreed to support the work of the Dublin Cycling Campaign and to help it develop as a stronger cycling advocacy force.

Dropbox is the first company in Ireland to formally support the work of Dublin Cycling Campaign as Business Members. This follows its pioneering support for other progressive causes over the years such as the Marriage Equality and Pride campaigns.

Amongst the speakers at the special event on 23rd of January in the company’s Dublin headquarters will be Paulo Rodriguez, Director of Solutions EMEA, Klaus Bondam, CEO of the Danish Cyclists’ Federation, Dr. Sabina Brennan, Neuroscientist and Active Travel Advocate from Trinity College Dublin and Dr. Damien Ó Tuama, National Cycling Coordinator with Cyclist.ie – the Irish Cycling Advocacy Network. Invitees will include senior executives from many of the country’s largest tech and finance firms, together with figures from the transport world.

Dropbox’s employee led initiative responds to the urgent need to develop Dublin and other Irish cities as bicycle friendly and Active Travel cities. Compared to other places where large tech companies are based – such as Copenhagen, Berlin, Stockholm and Amsterdam – Dublin and other Irish cities need to recognise the necessity to become properly bike and family friendly. This means ensuring greater investment in high quality segregated cycling infrastructure, making the most hostile junctions cycle friendly and lessening car domination of our streets, to encourage all ages, genders and ethnicities to be ‘active travellers’.

Full Press Release

Minister Bruton Publishes Draft Scheme of New Climate Law

  • Carbon budgets to be required by law
  • Decarbonisation targets for each sector
  • Sale of fossil fuel cars banned by 2030

The Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Richard Bruton T.D. today (Monday,  6th of January) published the Draft General Scheme of the Climate Action (Amendment) Bill 2019 and confirmed that it is priority legislation for the Government in the new Dáil term.

The Climate Action Plan, published earlier this year, is the Government’s plan to ensure we radically reduce our emissions in every sector to ensure we meet our future climate commitments, putting us on a trajectory to be net zero by 2050.

Minister Bruton said: “Governance and accountability are at the heart of the Climate Action Plan. We are putting in place the legislative underpinning to ensure the radical step up required is delivered.” The Bill aims to enshrine in law the approach outlined in the Climate Action Plan, including:

  • Establishing a 2050 emissions reduction target in law
  • Making the adoption of carbon budgets a legal requirement
  • Strengthening the role of the Climate Action Council in recommending the appropriate climate budget and policies
  • Requiring the Government to set a decarbonisation target range for each sector. The Minister with primary responsibility for each sector will be accountable for delivering the relevant actions to meet the sectoral target and for reporting annually on the delivery of their actions and the achievement of sectoral emission targets
  • Giving the Oireachtas a central role in the setting of the carbon budget and overseeing progress to delivery
  • Banning the sale of fossil fuel cars by 2030
  • Establishing that the Climate Action Plan shall be updated annually, with actions in every sector

Minister Bruton said,

Minister Bruton said: “We must act now and leave a better, healthier, more sustainable Ireland for future generations. Accountability is the key to making progress. We have a very short time to act. We must put in place a strong framework to ensure every sector, every policy, every decision delivers on the transformation that is required. Today represents a hugely important step in putting in place the necessary arrangements to achieve this objective.”

Climate Action Council: The 2019 Climate Action Plan commits to establish the Climate Action Council (the Council), which will replace the existing Climate Change Advisory Council. The Plan also describes additional powers which the successor Council will possess, in addition to the existing powers set out under sections 11, 12 and 13 of the 2015 Act.

Head 6 makes provision for the name change while head 7 introduces amendments to effect the following:

  • Inclusion of a fifth ex-officio ordinary member of the Climate Action Council – the Director of the Irish National Meteorological Service, Met Éireann
  • A requirement that in so far as is practicable there will be gender balance on the Council
  • That all Council members including the Chairperson will serve a maximum of two terms
  • That the Council will benefit from the capacity to retain expertise over time by members serving staggered terms of office
  • The Climate Action Council will establish an advisory committee in relation to climate adaptation

Head 8 provides that the Climate Action Council will be given new functions to provide recommendations to the Minister on the development and adoption of a series of appropriate economy wide carbon budgets (each covering a five year period) as per the requirements of the Climate Action Plan.

Heads 9 and 10 provide for updating and streamlining the performance review responsibilities of the Council with regard to its new function on carbon budgets while also updating requirements for a periodic review.

Carbon Budgets

The Climate Action Plan 2019 indicates that the Bill will introduce the adoption of carbon budgets as a legal requirement. In this regard, the draft General Scheme outlines that the Government will adopt a system of carbon budgets as part of a grouping of three five-year periods calculated on an economy-wide basis, starting with the periods 2021 to 2025, 2026 to 2030, and 2031 to 2035.

Head 12 which deals with the setting of carbon budgets, provides that the Climate Action Council is to advise the Minister on the appropriate three five-year carbon budgets and, based on this advice, the Minister will prepare three five-year carbon budgets for Government approval. These will include the recommended carbon budget permitted in each five-year carbon budget period and a decarbonisation range for each relevant sector for the five-year period within the ceiling of the proposed carbon budgets.

The head further provides that once adopted, the Minister shall propose a motion in  the Oireachtas to consider the carbon budget. If the  Government’s proposed carbon budget is rejected, then the Minister shall present an alternative budget (approved by Government) within a specified time period taking account of any recommendations made by the Oireachtas.

Long-term target

Work is continuing to finalise the government’s Long Term Climate Strategy to 2050. A public consultation on the Strategy closed on 31st December and the submissions received are now being reviewed. The long term strategy will set our 2050 climate target, which will then  inform the legal provision to be drafted for inclusion in the Climate Action (Amendment) Bill 2019. The Government has already backed the adoption of a net zero target at EU level and will continue to support this level of ambition going forward.

Banning the sale of fossil fuel cars by 2030

A draft Head is being developed in consultation with the relevant Government Departments to address the commitment in the National Development Plan and Climate Action Plan to introduce legislation to ban the registration of new fossil fuel cars from 2030 and to stop the granting of NCTs from 2045 (Head 16 is acting as a placeholder). In effect, from 2030 it will not be possible to register any new car which runs on fossil fuel. This will be developed further in consultation with the relevant Departments concerned and will be submitted to Government for approval in the New Year.

Amsterdam bicycle mayor thinks cycling could save the world

Amsterdam is known as the bicycle capital of the world because of its cyclist-friendly culture and infrastructure, including more than 500 kilometers of cycle paths and lanes. Nearly half the working population of the city commutes daily by bike. But it wasn’t always this way. In the 1950s and 60s, the city was “in thrall to motorists,” according to The Guardian, and it was only after traffic casualties rose that activists managed to insist on a change in transit policies. The oil crisis of the 70s also made fuel more expensive and led to a push for energy conservation.

Now, bicycle mayors have spread to 91 cities—a global movement powered by the idea that “if Amsterdam can do it, any city in the world can do it.”

Read full article

A New National Sustainable Mobility Policy

A lot of cycle campaigning work takes place behind the scenes – pouring over plans, drafting submissions and participating in public consultation events.

One of the latest events attended was the Stakeholder Engagement Event on a Review of Sustainable Mobility Policy organised by the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (DTTAS) on the 21st of November. Dr. Damien Ó Tuama was there for Cyclist.ie and Mairéad Forsythe for Love 30 (a member group of Cyclist.ie). On the day we restated some of our main campaigning demands: 10% of the transport pie for cycling (or 20% for walking & cycling), making built-up areas permeable and attractive for active travel, and radically improving the integration between cycling and public transport.

The purpose of the event was to start the process of developing a new Sustainable Mobility Policy and to seek the views of the main stakeholders.

Cyclist.ie will be examining the various papers prepared by DTTAS and preparing a submission ahead of the deadline of 24th of January 2020. Details of the formal consultation process can be seen here.

If you have time to help out with examining some of the background papers (in particular, Paper #2 on Active Travel) or with helping to draft a response to the consultation, we would love to hear from you. Contact us.

Cycling Campaigners at the Oireachtas Transport Committee

Our presentations to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Transport, Tourism and Sport (JOCTTS) on 20th of November raised the profile of the issues we are campaigning on. The contributions by Dr. Damien Ó Tuama and Mairead Forsythe (Cyclist.ie), Kevin Baker and Louise Williams (Dublin Cycling Campaign (DCC)), and Ciarán Ferrie and Downey (I Bike Dublin) covered the core issues of concern to everyday cyclists. While the details of the main issues were captured in Cyclist.ie’s formal submission to JOCTTS – it was a valuable exercise to be able to covey directly to the members of JOCTTS what the problems are and to answer their questions.

One of the core points we stressed was that the drop in cycling numbers amongst secondary school pupils (and girls in particular) over the last 30 years is simply shocking: back in 1986, over 19,000 secondary school girls cycled to school; by 2016, that number was just 694 (Census data). We also raised the point that only approx. 1% of transport funding is allocated to cycling (2018 figures) – and this really needs to be at least 10% of the transport budget. Such funding needs to be spent on high quality cycling infrastructure, as has happened and is happening all over Europe – and not just in the well known cycling countries of The Netherlands and Denmark. In recent years, both Paris and Brussels have introduced radical policies to remove their most hostile roundabouts and other junctions, and to reallocate space for cycling and walking. We also spoke about the need to have a well-staffed National Cycling Office within the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport – in addition to the new National Cycling Design Office in the National Transport Authority. Videos of the presentations by Damien, Kevin and Ciarán can be found via this story.

Following our presentations at JOCTTS, there were non-stop interviews on all of the major radio shows on RTE1, Newstalk, Kildare FM and Radió na Gaeltachta – while a few days later, Louise Williams published an opinion piece in the Irish Times entitled “Harassment adds more danger for women cycling in Dublin”.

So where now after our engagements with JOCTTS? Firstly, we will submit further evidence of examples of best practice cycling provision to the JOCTTS Committee. Secondly, there will be opportunities to pose further PQs (Parliamentary Questions) to find out exactly what is (and is not) happening in regard to providing for cycling – and it was useful to meet the TDs and Senators at that JOCTTS session. And thirdly, I Bike Dublin will be inviting members of the JOCTTS on a cycle around Dublin in the new year so they can get a better grasp of the issues faced by those cycling on Irish roads.

More information on JOCTTS, and you can see a full video of the session here

Great Southern Trail Christmas Walk/Cycle, Rathkeale, Co Limerick

Organised by Great Southern Trail Greenway (a member group of Cyclist.ie), the annual Christmas Walk/Cycle along the GST Greenway will take place on Friday 27th Dec 2019. This is an important event to maintain and build public support for the completion of the GST Greenway. Assembly is at the car park of the Rathkeale House Hotel, Rathkeale, Co. Limerick, V94NP54 between 12.30pm and 1.30pm. Bus Éireann services from Kerry and Limerick stop a few metres from the hotel for those who wish to reduce their carbon footprint.

Walkers will be transferred by Coach House Travel courtesy of shuttle coach from the hotel car park to Ardagh from where they will have a 5 mile [8 km] stroll (a shorter option can also be provided) along the old railway back to the Rathkeale House Hotel which is alongside the Greenway. There they can enjoy seasonal mince pies, whipped cream and tea/coffee at their leisure. Cyclists are also welcome and we suggest that they also meet at the hotel at 12.30 and cycle outwards along the Greenway for approx one hour or more towards Newcastle West / Barnagh Tunnel and then return in time to enjoy the refreshments. The round trip to the tunnel is close to 30 miles [48 km]. Bike hire will also be available (preferably by prior booking) with [email protected] 0868134061. Nollaig Shona do gach éinne agus beidh fáilte romhat ar an 27ú.

Turning the sod at Listowel & Fenit

In Listowel, County Kerry on Friday 29 November 2019

Brendan Griffin T.D., Minister of State at the Department of Transport Tourism and Sport, turned the first sod of the 10.5km section of the Great Southern Trail Greenway (GST) which will connect Listowel to the existing 40km in County Limerick.

Later, at a similar ceremony in Fenit he inaugurated the 10km of works to link Fenit to Tralee.

When these two projects are completed attention will be turned to the remaining 28km from Listowel to Tralee of the old railway line so that the villages of Lixnaw, Abbeydorney and Ardfert can also enjoy the benefits of a Greenway. When that is achieved the GST will become the longest Greenway in IrelandOther

Media:

DTTAS Proposals for Graduated Speeding Fines

Cyclist.ie, the Irish Cycling Advocacy Network  wholeheartedly endorses the appeal to Cabinet by The Irish Road Victims  Association, IRVA, to support  Minister for Transport Shane Ross’ plan to introduce graduated fines for people caught speeding.  Chairperson of Cyclist.ie ,Colm Ryder, said ” We were disappointed last week to hear FG TD Peter Burke oppose the measure on RTE Radio, and astounded to read a report this morning that 6 cabinet members also oppose the measure”.

The IRVA comprises members who have lost loved ones in a road traffic collision, and their view, on the need to take measures to curb speeding, is deserving of respect.  Graduated fines are a commonplace way of doing this in other jurisdictions.  Mr Ryder pointed out that the commonsense stance of the IRVA is supported by official statistics from the Garda and the RSA.

To date in 2019, 131 people have died on Irish roads , an increase of 10 on the same period in 2018.  There has also been an increase in the number of vulnerable road users ie motorcyclists, pedal cyclists and pedestrians who have died. According to the statistics on the Garda website, up to November 25th, 25 pedestrians, 16 motor cyclists and 9 pedal cyclists have died. This represents 38% or more than 1 in 3 of all fatalities.  Cyclist.ie is not claiming that speed was a factor in any or all of those  collisions but we do know that the chances of dying upon being hit by a vehicle increases substantially with the speed of the vehicle.

The most recent RSA Free Speed survey indicates that 52% of car drivers break the speed limit on urban roads and 27% on rural roads, while an incredible 98% of drivers break the lower urban 30 kph speed limits. “This being the case” said  Mr Ryder,  “Cyclist.ie doesn’t understand why the concept of graduated fines is being portrayed as another attack on rural Ireland. Observation of speed limits is in all our interests whether we live in rural or urban Ireland. We applaud the IRVA for its stance and call on every member of Cabinet tomorrow to back in principle the concept of graduated fines based on speed of the vehicle.  The details can be ironed out via amendments.”  Mr  Ryder stated that Cyclist.ie favours higher fines in low speed areas as this is where vulnerable road users are most at risk.