During the lockdown period of restricted movement, it was exciting so see so many families out walking and cycling on strangely quiet roads. Bikes sold like hot-cakes and shops ran out of supplies. Now people of all ages are keen to hold on to their newly experienced sense of autonomy and freedom.
To tie in with the nationwide Launch of Cyclist.ie’s Rural Cycling Collective Vision Statement, Sligo Cycling Campaign held a family fun cycling event recently in Cleveragh and Doorly Parks. The event was supported by Councillor Donal Gilroy (FF), Chair of the Council’s Environment and Infrastructure Committee, and by Councillor Marie Casserly (Independent), long-time supporter of cycling and of Sligo Cycling Campaign. Before the cycle began, Sligo Cycling Campaign’s Secretary and PRO, Gemma Woods (a qualified Cycle Right training instructor) did a short training and bike-check session with the young cyclists.
Afterwards, the peloton set off through the park and along Doorly Park to finish on the grounds of County Hall, Riverside. Mayor of Sligo Municipal District, Councillor Rosaleen O’Grady was there to welcome the party. The children displayed the posters and letters they had done showing why they loved cycling and how they would like to be able to cycle more places more often.
Chairperson of Sligo Cycling Campaign, Joan Swift, thanked the Mayor, Councillors and especially the participants. “It’s wonderful to have safe amenities such as Cleveragh Park and Doorly Park for cycling, but these children want to be able to cycle to school, to the library to their Granny’s “said Swift. “We are campaigning for a fair distribution of transport funding to regional parts of the country to make cycling for all ages and abilities a reality”.
According to the rural cycle collective the co-benefits of more people cycling more often include improvements to health, safety, congestion, air-quality, noise levels, and the public realm. More cycling will also help us to meet our climate change obligations.
Photo above kindly provided by Edel Moran.
For more information on Sligo Cycling Campaign, visit their Facebook page.
Minister Announces Start-Up Grants for Greenways Nationwide
Minister Eamon Ryan, our new Minister for Transport and Climate Action, recently announced a total of 26 grants of varying sizes, totalling €4.5mill for proposed greenway projects right around the country. A total of 20 County Councils, along with Waterways Ireland, have received funding varying from initial seed funding to explore a greenway idea, to funding to enable final design and consultations to take place. It is a welcome initiative that has made use of available funds from the Carbon Tax Fund.
We understand that there were over 40 applications for this round of funding, and the wide geographical spread of the successful applicants bodes well for the range of potential future projects, if they are fully followed through. We are pleased that a number of the proposals in different counties appear to link up with other initiatives in adjoining counties, holding out hope for linked cycle and walking routes and networks in a number of regions. Additionally, a number of counties have been successful with multiple applications. The range of grants runs from a low of €45,000 to Donegal for a short 8km project from Muff to Quigley’s Point, to a high of €750,000 to Meath County Council for the proposed greenway from Drogheda to Navan.
For all local authorities involved we in Cyclist.ie will be closely monitoring the spending of these grants, hopefully within an agreed timescale, which at this point in time is unclear. We do not wish to see a return to the false promises made in the past when various proposed schemes were unable to be advanced, despite commitments from the various local authorities concerned.
Overall this is a good news story for cycling development and recreational / tourism cycling in particular. It is now up to the local Councils to ensure these monies are well spent, and to see the projects advance. Cyclist.ie local groups will be keeping a close watch on the different projects, and we hope to keep our members and the general public up to date with what happens on the different schemes.
If you are particularly interested in the development of greenways in Ireland, and want to support Cyclist.ie’s work in this space, then Join Cyclist.ie or Contact us if you have any queries.
National Cycle / Walk to School practice runs 15 – 29 August 2020
Cycling campaign groups from all over Ireland — members of Cyclist.ie, the Irish Cycling Advocacy Network — today issued a call to parents, teachers, schools, sports clubs, local authorities and other groups and individuals to support a National Cycle / Walk / Scoot to School promotion to help families familiarise themselves with their school routes. It will run from Saturday 15th to 29nd August.
All through summer 2020 during the Covid-19 pandemic, children have been out cycling in their local neighbourhoods, going to parks, meeting friends, and enjoying the freedom and fresh air. With the return to classrooms in September, cycling and walking groups around the country are highlighting the opportunities for more children and students to cycle, walk, scoot or skate safely to school. This aligns with guidance from the Department of Education & Skills in which they will be supporting the National Transport Authority “in promoting various alternative means for children to get to school in a safe way, including walking and cycling and more generally in reducing the impact on the public transport system of school reopening” .
Key to getting more children to get back to school ‘on their own fuel’ is the familiarisation of routes from home to school. Cycle campaign groups around the country will be running a range of local events to practise school runs over the coming fortnight, and can supply written guidelines for any interested groups that want to organise events. Working together with experienced cyclists, each family can find the routes safest and most convenient for them. School-children of all ages, primary and secondary, can participate. Ideally they will link with other families, with teachers, parent associations, and with local organisations to test and plan the safest routes from home to school for cycling and walking.
Promotions will also take place in many locations, with opportunities to get bicycles checked by qualified mechanics, as well as taking part in a national scavenger hunt competition (teams can register at www.cyclist.ie/school). Practice runs can be held on any days that suit the participants between 15th and 29nd August. To date, events have been scheduled for Clonakilty, Tralee, Limerick, Galway, Kilkenny, Bandon, Sligo, Wexford and Dublin.
Information on route planning, how to maintain your bike, guidance on locking your bike correctly and details on the Scavenger Hunt competition will be provided on the day by each local event organiser.
Speaking on behalf of the national cycling campaign Cyclist.ie, Dr. Damien Ó Tuama said:
“there is no better time for children and parents to trial new, healthier, active travel ways to get to school. We have all long suffered the traffic jams, polluted air and general chaos of the school run by car. We will help people check their bikes over, plan a fun and safe route to school and demonstrate how to lock your bike correctly”.
“During the pandemic, young people have really enjoyed getting back on their bikes and these school practice runs will give them and their parents the confidence and impetus to use cycling and walking as the new normal way, the most fun and healthy way, to get to school happy and ready to learn”, said Ó Tuama.
Allison Roberts, a spokesperson for the Clonakilty Bicycle Festival, said
“Following on from the government’s urging of people to choose walking and cycling over other modes of transport, we want to help people make the first step. There has never been a better time for Local Authorities to accelerate the introduction of new measures to make ‘active travel’ as easy and as safe as possible. We are in a changed world, and we need to see changes on our roads and streets to make cycling safer all day, everyday for all ages and abilities.”
The network of campaign groups called on schools to provide space for secure bicycle parking. They will be contacting all local authorities and the National Transport Authority with a request to support and fund this initiative where possible.
As set out in the Vision for Cycling in Ireland (http://cyclist.ie/ruralvision/), cycling groups want to see all agencies and organisations support the installation of safer, segregated cycle routes, remove barriers to cycling and walking through parks and housing estates, and develop direct routes away from motorised traffic. The groups will also be contacting all local authorities to ask that they implement as a matter of urgency 30 km/h speed limits in all urban areas especially around schools.