3 out of every 4 citizens in Ireland believe that investment in transport should favour safe walking, cycling and public transport ahead of private cars. It’s 79% in cities and suburbs and, strikingly, is still 72% in rural areas.
The Irish Cycling Advocacy Network, Cyclist.ie, welcomes the enforcement by An Garda Síochána of a 24-hour National Slow Down Day on 22nd – 23rd May 2020.
Yet unlike Christmas Day, Slow Down Day should be every day.
An Garda Síochána say that more road deaths have been recorded so far this year compared to last year (56 deaths up 5). This is appalling in a time of historic low traffic volumes due to the Covid-19 ‘Stay At Home’ restrictions.
Mairéad Forsythe of Love30, Ireland’s campaign for lower speed limits said: “It is very simple. If you are out for a walk to the shop and a person driving at 60km/h hits you, there’s a 90% chance your family will be gathering for a socially-distant funeral. If you are walking to the local café and are hit by a car travelling at 30km/h, there’s a 90% chance you will survive and be able to return to your favourite coffee shop one day. Once again, we appeal to the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport to do the right thing and lower speed limits to 30km/h in areas where people walking and cycling are sharing space with cars, buses, trucks and HGVs.”
Colm Ryder, Chair of Cyclist.ie added: “Responsible driving is critical at all times, and is particularly needed in these days of Covid-19. The two metre social distancing requirement frequently forces people nationwide to step off narrow paths out onto carriageways to avoid contact with other people walking. People cycling have to give two metres social distance to people walking too. This means people cycling must move into the primary position in the middle of the lane, which is difficult when motor vehicles are moving at speed. People should not have to choose between risk of death by road traffic collision or risk of contracting a deadly viral infection.”
Gerry Dornan, chair of Maynooth Cycling Campaign and Vice-Chair of Cyclist.ie, continued: “to assess the value of enforcement on Slow Down Day, we need statistics on the number of key indicators – fatalities, serious and minor accidents. We also need to know the number of checkpoints and how long they are in operation, and afterwards we want to know how many people driving were prosecuted. This needs to be more than a day of education.”
Joan Swift of the Sligo Cycling Campaign concluded: “We expect people driving to be educated about The Rules of the Road. And we expect An Garda Síochána to protect people walking and cycling by enforcing our road and public safety laws. We now expect our Government to fund changes to road design. Engineering out speed is vital to enable people driving to comply with speed limits. We need segregated and protected cycle ways and paths away from main roads
Albert Einstein knew a thing or two about science. In any language he would be classed as an ‘expert’! In these days of lockdowns and restrictions we are continually asked to ‘listen to the experts’. So what does Albert say about cycling and life. He says: ‘Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving’. Sound advice wouldn’t you say!
Well, it is good to know that the role of cycling in our lives is gaining greater recognition, with the spread of the Covid virus! Cities and governments are realising that a new reality needs to be recognised and ideally put in place. Cities like Paris are forging ahead with ambitious plans to change the way citizens and commuters move about, encouraging people to ‘get on their bikes’!
The World Economic Forum is an international body based in Geneva which has recently highlighted the French government proposals to promote cycling and walking post COVID, as well as proposals from other cities around the world. Check out the short video on this link, and then delve into the associated written posts for some great ideas that could inspire you to get active in changing our environment here in Ireland, and getting your town or city to recognise the need for radical change to how we move about.
Cycling is, and will continue to be, a critical part of moving to a new post Covid reality. As Cyclist.ie has argued in multiple submissions to government, the role that cycling can play in:
- Reducing the level of greenhouse gases
- Improving the general and psychological health of people
- Reducing congestion levels
- Improving the design of public realm
- Providing a real economic return on public investment must be taken on board by the any new government, and in turn by Local Authorities across the country
It’s time for all of us to build support for new green initiatives that help to grow cycling levels.
It’s time for all of us, as cycling advocates, to push for the necessary changes by lobbying our public representatives and local authorities.
It’s Time to Make a Difference! Get On Yer Bike and Get Active!