RETHINK IRELAND FUND SUCCESS FOR CYCLIST.IE

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 Cyclist.ie 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 Cyclist.ie 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 Cyclist.ie 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 Cyclist.ie 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 Cyclist.ie member groups are represented – and through further direct contacts with officials)

–          Building wider support and alliances for Cyclist.ie’s advocacy work – with businesses, health bodies and other NGOs. On this, Cyclist.ie draws great inspiration from Dropbox’s support for cycling advocacy through its endorsement of the work of Dublin Cycling Campaign (a member group of Cyclist.ie) – 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 Cyclist.ie 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 Cyclist.ie’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, Cyclist.ie wishes to sincerely thank Rethink Ireland and the funders of the Innovate Together Fund. We also wish to acknowledge the Cyclist.ie 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 Cyclist.ie 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.  

Vicar St, Kilkenny – cyclist.ie submission

Cyclist.ie sent the submission below to Kilkenny County Council on 2nd October 2020 in respect to the “Part 8” planning application by the Council for its Vicar Street Improvement Development – details here: https://consult.kilkenny.ie/en/consultation/vicar-street-improvement-development.

We broadly welcome the scheme concept, but there are several aspects of the proposals – particularly the details of the junctions – which need revisiting in order to enhance the cycling offer.

Delivering submissions to national and local authorities is one important strand of Cyclist.ie’s work aimed at re-normalising everyday cycling in Ireland.

Dear Sir / Madam, 

On behalf of An Taisce and Cyclist.ie, I welcome the opportunity to respond to the above Part 8 consultation in regard to the Vicar Street Improvement Development. 

An Taisce is the National Trust for Ireland and Cyclist.ie is the umbrella body of cycle advocacy groups in Ireland and the member for Ireland of the European Cyclists’ Federation. This is a joint submission on behalf of both organisations. 

Below are our observations. 

  1. We strongly welcome the overall concept to make Vicar Street one-way for general traffic, but providing a contra-flow track for people on bikes moving northbound. This will result in an overall improvement in cycling conditions on this street. 
  2. In the context of the available space, we support the proposal for southbound cyclists to share the general traffic lane when heading towards St. Canice’s Place. However, we feel the proposal would be enhanced further if traffic calming measures were provided on this street so as to keep motor vehicle speeds low. Some mixture of speed cushions and raised tables would seem appropriate here – and perhaps also the addition of some trees to provide a visual narrowing of the road and hence create a more ‘room-like’ feeling to the street. This would suggest driving at a slower and safe speed where drivers are guests on the street. 
  3. The cycle track design would be enhanced further if there was physical segregation between the contra-flow cycle track and the general carriageway – ideally a low kerbing / having the cycle track as a ‘raised adjacent’ surface (see Section 4.3.5 of the National Transport Authority’s National Cycle Manual – https://www.cyclemanual.ie/manual/designing/flowchart/). 
  4. In regard to having cyclists and pedestrians at the same level as shown in the cross sections A-A and B-B on Drawing no XXX, we strongly recommend that there is a level difference between the cycling space and the pedestrian space here so to reduce conflicts. 
  5. Junction of Vicar Street and Troy’s Gate / Green Street. As currently proposed, the shape of the traffic-island at this junction will make it difficult for a cyclist to turn right from the contra-flow cycle track onto Green Street. The designers need to reshape this traffic island so as to provide an obvious space for cyclists to position themselves to stop and to turn right. 
  6. Junction of St. Canice’s Place and Vicar Street. As currently proposed, the shape of the traffic-island at this junction will make it very difficult for a cyclist to turn right from St. Canice’s Place onto the contra-flow cycle track on Vicar Street. The designers need to reshape this traffic island so as to make this manoeuvre easier. . 
  7. Junction of St. Canice’s Place and Vicar Street – signage. The proposed signage at this junction needs to make it very clear that cyclists are exempted from the prohibition for vehicles turning into Vicar Street. 
  8. The opportunity should be availed of to provide cycle stands at appropriate locations on or adjacent to the street so as to further encourage cycling. 

I would be very grateful if you could acknowledge receipt of this submission. 

Thank you. 

Yours faithfully,

Dr. Damien Ó Tuama
National Cycling Coordinator, 
Cyclist.ie http://cyclist.ie/ and An Taisce https://www.antaisce.org/