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.