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.”
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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.
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
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.