Cycle Right or Cycle Wrong?

In 2017, Deputy Catherine Murphy addressed a question in the Dail about the management of the cycle training programme Cycle Right, specifically the anticipated increase in cycling to school and the benchmark for success. This was against a background in the UK of increased training having no significant effect on cycling levels unless accompanied by the provision of high quality infrastructure.

The response by Minister Shane Ross was in short that the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport had no idea about how effective the scheme would be and did not have any benchmark for success.

In 2018, one year on from having introduced the scheme, Deputy Catherine Murphy again asked about the effectiveness of Cycle Right. (​ See full transcript of question and answer) In a rambling response, the Minister Shane Ross confirmed that there was no data available on the number of children cycling to school directly as a result of Cycle Right training.

He did state that in 2017, 15,245 pupils participated in Cycle Right training in 428 schools. which means that 4% of primary schools pupils (if only primary schools took part) 1 or 2.7% of all pupils received cycle training. He went on to state that

“This cycle training ……. will result, over time, in an increase in the number of responsible cyclists on our roads. As Cycle Right is essentially a training programme, we will continue to monitor it based on the number of participants ……

There is no evidence that cycle training on its own will lead to increased cycling. In stating the increase in terms of additional responsible cycling, it could be interpreted that there would be no additional cyclists – only more ‘responsible’ ones. The statement that they will continue to monitor Cycle Right based on the number of participants is “flannel”. Of course the Department is going to continue to monitor the scheme as it is funded on the basis of a payment per head.

The response to the parliamentary question then rambles on to discuss the Green Schools programme although Green Schools were not referred to in the question. The Green School programme monitors the number of children travelling by active means but only those schools which are participating in the Travel Module. Any school which is not participating in the Travel Module or in the Green Schools programme is not monitored. The survey results report an increase from 3% to 4% over two years. This is more selective hype and spin by the Minister and his Department as they aggregate the results over more than one year in order to boost the results.

So now we know that only a small percentage of pupils receive cycle training and nobody has any idea about its effectiveness. This lack of interest in its outcome begs the question what is this Minister and / or senior management doing?

Minister Ross announces additional Funding for New Safety Measures for Cyclists

The Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Shane Ross T.D. today confirmed an additional €400,000 of funding  is being made available to Dublin City Council for investment in cycling safety infrastructure.

Speaking at today’s announcement Minister Ross commented –

“I want to encourage more people to cycle and I realise that safety is a concern to many, so I am continuing to invest in safety measures for cyclists. This €400,000 will improve safety for cyclists at 40 key junctions across Dublin City Centre and is a great example of my Department and the National Transport Authority working with local authorities to improve cycling and walking infrastructure generally.”

This investment will be used to  fund Dublin City Council’s installation of  smart cyclist detection equipment at 40 key junctions around Dublin. This new traffic management feature aims to make busy junctions safer for cyclists by using smart technology to regulate traffic more effectively. In particular these measures will help alleviate concerns of cyclists regarding collisions and crossing times at busy junctions.

Minister Ross stated: “This funding is in addition to the €110million I have already secured for the development of cycling and walking infrastructure across the country over the next 4 years. Furthermore, significant investment is planned under the BusConnects programme in Dublin, which will deliver around 200km of, where possible, segregated cycle paths.”

The Department is also a key sponsor of Velo-City 2019 and is working closely with Dublin City Council (DCC), who will host the event.  The Minister said “I am delighted to support this prestigious event and look forward to welcoming the conference, delegates and sponsors back to Dublin in June of next year.”

The Minister also wished the NTA’s Smarter Travel Team success for their ‘Reboot your Commute’ campaign that is launching tomorrow and thanked the National Transport Authority and DCC for their continued commitment to improving infrastructure.