Kildare Town – Council Fails to Provide for Cycling

(This post previously appeared on the Maynooth Cycling Campaign website)

Kildare County Council recently carried out Covid-19 works in Kildare Town. Part of the works included the reallocation of space in the town square from car parking to tables and benches for people to sit and relax. The change in the environment from a place dominated by cars to a place for people to linger is striking and has deservedly been warmly welcomed.

However, the same cannot be said of the second works in the town on Cleamore Road (Academy Street). Cleamore Road is approximately 250m long and contains a school, community building, shops, factory unit and private houses. Its cross section varies from 7.5m at the lower section, 8-9m in the middle section and increases to 15m at the upper end. Traffic has been restricted to one direction and footpaths have been widened to give more room for social distancing.  The photographs below show the result of the works.

Kildare Town Covid Works

Cyclists from the north west of the town have to take a circuitous diversionary route via Grey Abbey Road to access the school as no contraflow cycle track has been provided. Rather than providing a School Street or School Zone to enable children to safely cycle to school, the work is more likely to encourage cycling on the footpath than to encourage more cyclists.

The works have been heavily criticised by cycle campaigners for its failure to properly provide for cycling. Covid funding was intended to provide for increased walking and cycling, not walking OR cycling. Over 1000 children attend the adjacent St Brigid’s School but according to the 2016 Census, only 7 children cycled to primary school. As can be seen from the photograph, cyclists are expected to share the road with cars.  Few parents allow young children to share the roads with cars anywhere, so why does the Council expect them to do so in Kildare Town?

Kildare County Council made a short video of the works which can be seen here. A council engineer describes how the works allowed the footpath on one side  to be widened a minimum of 3m and on the other side to nearly as much. While this is true of the lower section, it is patently untrue in relation to the middle section. As can be seen from the photograph, there is room for parking on both sides of the road and a footpath on just one side ( and also hatching for vehicles) but there is no room for a dedicated cycle path. To crown matters, parking on the west side is perpendicular to the road – just what is needed for reversing cars to deter any cyclists with doubts about cycling safety. Further along the road, there are road markings which indicate “Private Parking” in front of the factory unit so the Council acquiesces in the decision to allocate public space to parking for a private company. The Design Manual for Urban Roads and Streets sets out a road user hierarchy with pedestrians at the top, followed by cyclists and with drivers of private cars at the bottom. The design for Cleamore Road ignores this but councils get away with such decisions as they are judge and jury on the matter.

In Ireland, cycling has flatlined nationally for the last twenty years. Unless Kildare County Council starts to provide high quality cycle infrastructure,  it won’t change in Kildare for the next twenty. In the July Stimulus,  Kildare only received half the allocation of similar commuting counties such as Meath and Wicklow. If the council continues to ignore the needs of cyclists with designs such as Cleamore Street and even worse recent examples in other Municipal Districts, Kildare will be lucky to get half in the future.

Greyways Under the Microscope

Putting Greyways under the microscope – a view from Wexford 

We have posted previously on this website on the Government’s 2020 Stimulus Package for Active Travel. There are lots of good projects and proposals in there, but some worrying expenditure proposals, particularly on the conversion of hard shoulders on old N routes to cycle routes that are referred to as greyways. The term suggests some sort of formal category of cycle facility; however, these routes unfortunately tend to be little more than white lines painted inside the hard shoulder and are then called cycle tracks! They are a poor use of taxpayers’ money, when funds could be directed to more standard designs which would be safer for all ages and abilities, and encourage non-cyclists to get on their bikes.

Wexford is one of the counties that received funding to build greyways. Phil Skelton, of our local Wexford Cycling Advocacy network group WexBug, has posted a blog on the proposed introduction of a new greyway in Wexford, in which he outlines the mistakes of the past, and queries the wisdom of its expenditure under this Stimulus Funding Package. Check out Phil’s blog here. He makes cogent arguments about the need for proper considered design and for a comprehensive safety audit.

A must read for anyone working on rural cycling!

Greyway near Clogh Village, Wexford

Greyway on R445 (Old N7) between Nenagh and Birdhill at TEDx Rethink Ireland Countdown event is delighted to have been invited to speak at the ‘TEDxRethinkIreland presents Countdown’ event this Monday 12th October at 2.30pm.

Countdown is a global initiative to champion and accelerate solutions to the climate crisis, turning ideas into action. It is a year-long focus on climate change led by TED and a coalition of leaders, activists, scientists, and businesses around the world, leading to COP 26 in October 2021. The goal is to build a better future by cutting greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030 in the race to a zero-carbon world – a world that is safer, cleaner, and fairer for everyone. will be represented at the TEDx event by Dr. Damien Ó Tuama, National Cycling Coordinator with and An Taisce. In his talk, Damien will set out’s vision for a low carbon mobility system in which active travel is a core component.

You can register for the event via Event Brite here

During the event itself you will also hear from:

Deirdre Mortell, CEO and Founder of Rethink Ireland 
Deirdre has been the CEO of ONE Foundation and held senior roles in fundraising & communications in Oxfam and Barnardos.

ECO–UNESCO Ireland’s Environmental Education & Youth Organisation that works to conserve the environment and empower young people.

Burrenbeo Trust a charity dedicated to reconnecting us with our landscape and our role in caring for it.

Green Sod Ireland a land and biodiversity trust with gifted Wild Acres in its care – creating safe habitats, facilitating the free movement of wildlife vital for biodiversity all over Ireland. 10 Asks & Budget 2021

It is almost eight months since General Election 2020 (Saturday 8th February – although it feels like several years ago) and since published its “#GE2020 10 Asks to Make Cycling Better & Safer for All” as shown in the graphic below. 

And it is coming up to four months since the final Programme for Government was published (mid-June 2020). 

Last week delivered its Pre-budget 2021 Submission to the Minister for Finance, so over the coming fortnight we will be monitoring very carefully how our “10 Asks to Make Cycling Better & Safer for All” will have shaped Budget 2021 (taking place on Tue 13th October). 

As we learn to live with Covid-19 and begin to recast our visions for transport, housing and energy in response to the urgent need to decarbonise our lives, there is no better time to transform our mobility systems and to invest in high quality cycling infrastructure countrywide. Keep in touch with us over the coming weeks as – we hope – a new picture for the future of transport in Ireland begins to emerge.

RETHINK IRELAND FUND SUCCESS FOR CYCLIST.IE is delighted to announce that we are one of the successful applicants in the first phase of Rethink Ireland’s Innovate Together Fund. This follows the formal announcement by Rethink Ireland last week  – particularly exciting news to receive during National Bike Week, probably our busiest week of the year!  

A total of 51 projects are being funded in the first phase of Rethink Ireland’s Innovate Together Fund, following applications for grants by 481 projects. The fund is all about supporting innovative responses to the pandemic, and sees cycling and active travel as very much part of an appropriate societal response to the situation in which we find ourselves. The Innovate Together Fund is supported by the Department of Rural and Community Development via the Dormant Accounts Fund.

The focus on cycling through the Change Our Streets campaign aligns with a Europe-wide trend of reallocating road space to pedestrians and cyclists, reducing speed limits, and introducing other interventions such as ‘filtered permeability’ schemes – all with the aim of changing the conditions to enable more people to choose to cycle. This trend has been reported widely in the international press – see for example the Guardian’s articles (from May 2020) on How coronavirus will transform transport in Britain’s cities and Covid-19 prompts world’s cities to free public space of cars – and in the domestic media such as the Irish Times’ editorial of 27 July 2020 which argued that the “pandemic has strengthened the case for getting more commuters cycling and walking” – see the Irish Times view on cycling infrastructure: a tipping point. As recently as today, the 2nd of October 2020, the BBC reported on ‘Coronavirus: How pandemic sparked European cycling revolution’. All of these developments are now being systematically tracked by the European Cyclists’ Federation (ECF), of which is the member for Ireland, with its Covid Measures Tracker.  

The project builds on some fine campaigning work in which Galway Cycling Campaign, the Irish Pedestrian Network and focused on speeding and the need for  safe, usable space  across the country, for people to shop, exercise and commute by active travel means during the crisis. This initiative was supported by The Irish Heart Foundation, the Irish Cancer Society and the Association for Health Promotion Ireland – see the Irish Heart Foundation joins call for safer streets. The project also builds on the work of Better Ennis with, for example, their open letter to  the local Council requesting healthier streets during the pandemic. Huge credit is due to campaigners across the country advancing this advocacy work as it has raised the profile of the issues and of the need for Local Authorities (LAs) to engage more fully on public health matters.  

The essence of this Rethink Ireland funded project is around strengthening the capacity of as an effective non-governmental organisation (NGO) to create further change. This means:

–          Building up our knowledge base at local, national and international levels on what is happening to enable cycling during the pandemic (e.g. by drawing on the ECF Covid Tracker tool referred to above)

–          Engaging constructively with LAs countrywide (e.g. through the Transportation or Infrastructure Strategic Policy Committees (SPCs) on which some local member groups are represented – and through further direct contacts with officials)

–          Building wider support and alliances for’s advocacy work – with businesses, health bodies and other NGOs. On this, draws great inspiration from Dropbox’s support for cycling advocacy through its endorsement of the work of Dublin Cycling Campaign (a member group of – see Campaigning Moves up a Gear with the Support of Dropbox 

–          Engaging with the new Minister for Transport on cycling.

In short, the project is all about building on what has been working on since its foundation in 2008, but with the heightened urgency that Covid has prompted. As set out in our funding application in May, the success with Rethink Ireland’s Innovate Together Fund enables’s National Cycling Coordinator, Dr. Damien Ó Tuama, to transition from a part-time role towards a full-time position in cycling advocacy. This, in turn, will help to nurture the further growth of effective cycle campaigning countrywide – see the map showing the growing array of cycling advocacy bodies all around Ireland (currently being updated to include new members). Ultimately, this project will support the emergence of strong cycling cultures at local community levels nationwide during and beyond the pandemic.  

Once again, wishes to sincerely thank Rethink Ireland and the funders of the Innovate Together Fund. We also wish to acknowledge the Executive Committee for their input on the funding proposal back in May 2020. We see this funding success as a further stepping stone in strengthening cycling advocacy in Ireland.

Finally, we wish to note here that continues to appreciate its strategic partnerships with An Taisce and with Cycling Ireland. These partnerships help to cement cycling advocacy within broader movements around creating a more sustainable system and a healthier population in Ireland.