On the 4th of November 2019, Carlow Cycling Campaign was launched at a well attended public meeting on a very wet Monday night.
It all took place in the lovely BeaNice Café in Carlow town. The meeting was organised by local secondary school teacher, Chris Davey, and attended by a terrific cross section of the community. It included local Councillors (Fintan Phelan, FF, and Adrienne Wallace, PBP), the local postman who does his deliveries by bike, a local bike shop owner, members of Carlow Road Cycling Club and Slaney Valley Cycling Club, many mothers and fathers of school pupils, and some who had lived in much more cycling friendly environments such as Rotterdam.
The feeling amongst those attending was that Carlow was an extremely car dominated town and had become increasingly hostile for those choosing to cycle or considering cycling for transport or leisure trips. Quite a few people highlighted the cycle unfriendliness of the town’s roundabouts, and the stop-start nature of much of the existing cycling infrastructure. General intimidation towards those cycling from drivers was also raised – as was the extreme congestion around the cluster of schools near the town’s train station. There is huge potential for growing cycling in Carlow town, but there does not appear to be any official coherent plan to make this happen.
Dr. Damien Ó Tuama, National Cycling Coordinator with Cyclist.ie, gave an overview of some of the advocacy work Cyclist.ie and its member groups are advancing and there was a discussion around what types of interventions would make the biggest difference in Carlow. Of particular interest to attendees was the Galway Cycle Bus, the introduction of more 30km/hr zones, the development of a high quality and well maintained cycle network in the town, and massively increased provision of cycle parking. To make all of this happen, there was a huge interest in following the lead of Limerick City and County Council which recently approved a motion to allocate 10% of its transport budget for cycling – and, more broadly, for Carlow County Council to develop a high quality cycling policy and to employ a Cycling Officer at a senior level.
Carlow Cycling Campaign will meet again in January and is planning on inviting a representative from An Garda Síochána to the meeting to discuss illegal car parking on cycle tracks and other issues of concern to school-going children and their parents. To keep abreast of what is happening in Carlow, keep an eye on the Facebook page of Carlow Cycling Campaign. We wish our colleagues in Carlow Cycling Campaign the very best of luck!