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Leitrim Cycling Festival

Leitrim Cycling Festival will take place from the 22nd to the 24th of June in Manorhamilton and Dromahair. The aim of the festival is to celebrate the locality for its wonderful cycling routes, to bring people together to learn about the future of cycling in the area, to build a community that can be involved in developing the area and to have some fun.

Website and poster

Cycling Without Age’s First Birthday

When we launched Cycling Without Age on 13th June 2017 in the People’s Park Dun Laoghaire, I had a dream. It was that older and mobility-impaired people should have fun and the chance to get out and about, regardless of ability or age. No-one chooses to get old, disabled, mobility-impaired, or lose their independence. I could not have dreamt that one year on, there would be 13 trishaw bikes operating all over Ireland (with more on order), taking nursing and care home residents and people in the community out for free spins to ‘feel the wind in their hair’, piloted by volunteers. My dream has now become your dream too and I feel honoured and thank you for that.

Progress Report:

Ministerial Support: Transport Minister Shane Ross TD announced on RTE Radio’s Sean O’Rourke Show (31st May) in a discussion about rickshaws, that “It’s the commercial element we would ban. There is a group, Cycling Without Age, we wouldn’t want to ban them”.   Minister for Mental Health and Older People, Jim Daly TD, came to meet me at an Elder Care show at the RDS (1st June) for an update on our progress. From Clonakilty, Co. Cork where one of the first trishaws operates, he was delighted to hear of our speedy growth.

Trishaw locations and funding: To date, there are three bikes in Co. Cork – two in Cork City and one in Clonakilty. Five in Dublin: in Clontarf, Raheny, Santry, South Circular Road and Shankill, Co. Dublin. One in Sligo, one in Waterford, one in Wexford and two in Leitrim. Of these, five have been sponsored by corporates, five with grant aid from Healthy Ireland, and the rest with a combination of fund-raising and matching sponsorship. So, we know that there are several ways for you to get a bike in your area!

Community Bikes: Not all bikes have gone to nursing/care homes. We have three bikes that are operating in the community, with a booking system for people to sign up, both as passengers and as pilots. I can give you more details on request.

Awards: Social Entrepreneurs Ireland gave us a cash award which helped us to get pull-up banners and brochures printed. We use these to promote the branding and get the message out. KBC Bright Ideas gave a cash grant to Kilkenny CWA who are fund-raising for their bike. The People Newspaper Group honoured me with a Volunteer of the Year Award certificate.

Schools Support: Transition Year (TY) students in two schools, St. Conleth’s in Dublin and Newtown School in Waterford are fund-raising to donate bikes to their chosen care homes. This is a great social enterprise model that other schools might like to copy.

Pilot-Training: I have now pilot-trained most of those who recently took charge of new trishaws, as well as interested volunteer pilots.  A document on Piloting Tips is available on request, as well as a short video. We are now beginning to standardise and formalise pilot training protocols.

New Bike Launches:  Seven of the new trishaws arrived in April. In the past few weeks three of these have held very successful launches, with more to follow. The launches are great opportunities to spread the word, invite the media, engage with the public and start the serious business of having fun!

Facebook Group:  Not everyone is on Facebook I know. But, for those who are, the easiest and quickest way of keeping you informed of our progress is via our open Facebook Group, Cycling Without Age – Ireland. Feel free to join up. We already have 127 members!

Cycle-Friendly routes:  Provision/access to off-road cycle-friendly routes is essential to making CWA journeys safe and enjoyable. Please lobby your local authorities and TDs to develop access to parks, greenways, blue-ways, the S2S (www.s2s.ie) around Dublin Bay and other off-road tracks to cater for CWA trishaws, which are 1.1m wide at the front.

Warming up for Bike Week!

Schools all over County Clare were preparing for National Cycle to School Day taking place on Wednesday 13th of June as part of Bike Week. They organised free bike maintenance and cycle training workshops with An Taisce’s Green-Schools Travel Education officer for Clare, Róisín Ní Gháirbhith.

Record numbers of children cycled to school in Clare that day. It is so obvious to me that children now love cycling just as much as we did 30 years ago. It is more important than ever that we create opportunities for children to cycle and look for more investment in infrastructure and speed reduction in order for them to be able to enjoy cycling as a normal way to get around.

“It’s the most bikes I’ve seen at the school in 30 years” said principal of Ennis National School. “Children were born to cycle and so few do so regularly now that when you create an opportunity for them to do so, they jump at the chance. They really love being shown how to care for their bikes as well and certainly seemed empowered by the ability to adjust their saddle height, fix a puncture etc.

It seems to me that most kids have a bike and pretty good ones at that, but yet they are not really connected to it. I get them to discover the useful information on the tyres, follow the cables to see where they go and what they do. I show them how to adjust their saddle height and the marks on minimum insertion for the seat post. They learn how to use allen keys and spanners and how gears work etc. They love it and it demystifies their bikes and connects them with their bikes. I always say if you take care of your bike, your bike will take care of you. Then I’d cover the essentials of: mounting the bike on the left hand side and why, primary and secondary road riding position, looking over the shoulder, hand signals and cyclists’ rights and responsibilities on the road.

For more information visit An Taisce Green Schools Travel Theme

Failure of Government Climate Change Policy

The EPA’s projections, published today (here), reveal the colossal scale of Ireland’s collective political failure to rein in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in line with our legally binding EU and global commitments.

It is quite staggering to consider that instead of achieving the modest initial target of reducing our national GHG emissions by 20% versus 2005 levels, the EPA today confirms that “at best”, we will have only managed a negligible 1% emissions cut by 2020.

In terms of our performance on tackling the dangerous and rapidly escalating threats posed by climate change, Ireland has moved from being an outlier to, essentially, a rogue state on the international stage.

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EuroVelo Route Inspectors Training in Letterkenny

The latest EuroVelo Route Inspectors Training took place in Letterkenny, Ireland, on 23-24 April. More than 40 prospective EuroVelo route inspectors and the EuroVelo Management Team met in this charming town close to the Irish north-Atlantic shores for a busy training session.

The two-day training started with presentations explaining the European Certification Standard (ECS) methodology, EuroVelo’s process for the evaluation of long-distance cycle routes. Over the past few months, the ECF’s Infrastructure Officer Aleksander Buczyński has been thoroughly reviewing the ECS Manuals, and these were presented to the participants along with many practical examples for route inspectors (check out the annexes to the ECS). The ECS covers route Infrastructure as well as Services, Marketing and Promotion.

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Bike Week

PLANNING AN EVENT ON BIKE TO WORK DAY

Bikeweek 2018 runs from 9th to 17th June with Wednesday 13th June nominated as BIKE TO WORK day.

Is your employer / company participating in BIKE TO WORK DAY. If not, print out our flyer (hyperlink) and bring it to your HR/Personnel Department. What do other companies do? Well, all sorts of things like

  • Free breakfasts for cyclists
  • Lottery for staff who cycle
  • Gift voucher for local bike shops
  • Gift voucher for restaurants
  • Cycling clothes

Why should businesses participate? Well if they are interested in congestion, staff productivity, climate change, sustainability and community health, they should – increased cycling has a positive effect on all of the above.

See also Poster

Motorists Urged to Give Cyclists the Space to Ride Safe

  • Minister, RSA and Gardaí seriously concerned about increase in cyclist fatalities as popularity of cycling increases dramatically in recent years
  • 6 cyclists have died in 2018 compared to 4 cyclists up to the same period last year
  • 2017 saw 50% increase in cyclist fatalities
  • Cyclists also advised to take steps to ensure their safety on the roads
  • 15 road deaths over May Bank Holiday crashes in past five years

Mr. Shane Ross TD, Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, the Road Safety Authority (RSA) and An Garda Síochána today called on drivers to slow down and keep a safe distance when overtaking cyclists on both urban and rural roads. This call comes following serious concerns over the number of cyclists killed on Irish roads this year.

To date in 2018, a total of 6 cyclists have died compared to 4 cyclist deaths up to the same period last year. This follows a 50% increase in cyclist fatalities in 2017. In response the RSA launched an awareness campaign in early March to educate drivers of the need to leave a safe distance when overtaking cyclists. The RSA recommends that drivers allow at least one metre overtaking distance when passing cyclists in speed zones up to 50km/hour and at least 1.5 metres when passing at speeds above 50km/hour.

Mr. Shane Ross TD, Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, said: “As Minister for Transport, I am committed to introducing regulations to mandate safe overtaking distances when passing cyclists in order to reduce the number of cycling deaths on our roads. Whether cycling for leisure or to commute, cycling has many health and environmental benefits and we need to actively support people who choose to travel that way. But every year there are several cycling fatalities on Irish roads and almost a thousand cyclists injured. One fatal road tragedy is one too many.  In 2017, there were 15 cyclists killed on our roads; a 50% increase on 2016. This is unacceptable and I hope that the introduction of the Minimum Passing Distance (MPD) will contribute positively to the safety of cyclists on our roads.

Ms Moyagh Murdock, Chief Executive, Road Safety Authority said: “We are using the opportunity of the May Bank Holiday weekend to remind drivers to always allow safe passing distances for cyclists. We are very concerned about the increase in cycling fatalities and serious injuries across both 2017 and 2018 to date. As the weather improves and cycling continues to grow in popularity we will see more cyclists on our roads and the risks will increase. To protect cyclists we have launched a major road safety awareness campaign this year, asking motorists to pass cyclists at a safe distance and we are also investing in safe cycling training to teach both children and adults proper cycling skills. Last year the RSA invested €353,885 in cyclist safety awareness campaigns and cycling training nationwide.”

Assistant Commissioner, David Sheahan, Garda National Roads Policing Unit, said: “We are calling on drivers to heed their speed, slow down and keep their eyes on the road. It is important to be conscious of cyclists at junctions, particularly when turning left, to check the various driver blind spots and allow plenty of space when overtaking a cyclist. Our message for cyclists is to realise that the rules of the road apply to them also. This means not cycling on footpaths, not weaving in and out of traffic, stopping at traffic lights and signalling your intent when turning left or right.”

Mr Phil Skelton of the ‘Staying Alive at 1.5’ campaign said, “I am delighted to see the RSA safe passing ad so prominently displayed on our national media. Anecdotally, we are hearing of safer interactions between bicycle riders and motorists as a result. We look forward to this message becoming prominent in the next edition of the Rules of the Road, due out shortly, where it can become part of driver training.”

“Unfortunately 2018 has seen 6 bicycle riders die on our roads and this is the unacceptable face of road safety.  May of last year was the most lethal for bicycle riders with 4 fatalities in that month alone. I would appeal to other road users to be extra vigilant of our vulnerable road users.”

A total of 55 people have died on the roads to date in 2018. This represents an increase of one death compared to last year.

The Irish Times view on cycling infrastructure: time to get moving

There is a moral onus on the Government to invest in protecting cyclists

The statistics are stark. So far this year, six cyclists have been killed on Irish roads and many more injured, some very seriously. Last year, 15 died as a result of collisions with motor vehicles, more often than not on high-speed open roads, and hundreds more were injured. “One fatal road tragedy is one too many,” Minister for Transport Shane Ross has said. However, apart from introducing legislation to provide for minimum passing distances to protect vulnerable cyclists from reckless motorists, Ross cannot claim to be a champion of two-wheelers when his own department’s allocation for cycling infrastructure fell from €19 million in 2015 to €10.5 million in 2016 and just €7.5 million last year. These figures, which amount to less than 2 per cent of its capital budget, are so pathetically inadequate that they put Ireland close to the bottom among EU countries in this area.

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