Cyclist.ie made a submission yesterday (Fri 30 Oct 2020) to the National Transport Authority (NTA) in response to their consultation on the Limerick Shannon Metropolitan Area Transport Strategy (LSMATS).
The draft LSMATS aims to sets out a framework for investment in transport for the Limerick Shannon Metropolitan Area for the next 20 years.
Cyclist.ie is incredibly disappointed with the document. We maintain that the current draft of strategy lacks integrity and credibility and will struggle to deliver for Limerick and the Shannon region over the next twenty years. LSMATS needs to be the oversight document that establishes the transport ambition in the region for the years ahead. The ambition for active travel in the draft strategy is nowhere near where it needs to be.
Cyclist.ie is requesting that the NTA and Minister for Transport pause the current process to:
(a) align LSMATS with the climate and active travel commitments made in the current Programme For Government, the Living With Covid Plan, the Climate Action Plan, and the National Planning Framework, and
(b) bring an updated draft of LSMATS forward for a subsequent round of public consultation and engagement that allows for meaningful stakeholder and public engagement .
An Taisce is running an online fundraising campaign to support the work of the National Cycling Coordinator (NCC)
For the last seven years, Cyclist.ie has had a strategic partnership with An Taisce – the National Trust for Ireland in support of the NCC position. This part-time role was created following a successful funding application by Cyclist.ie to the European Cyclists’ Federation’s Leadership Programme. See here and also here for more information on that programme.
The NCC role is all about helping everyday cycling to grow, drawing on expertises from within An Taisce and Cyclist.ie. One of the main challenges of the role is to help Cyclist.ie’s member groups link together and make decisions in a cohesive way and thus create a stronger campaigning force at a national level. In 2008, there were just seven member groups in Cyclist.ie – from Cork, Dublin, Galway, Limerick, Maynooth, Skerries and Waterford. As of October 2020, there are 25 member groups within the network, with further cycle campaigning (and greenway) groups now crystallising and looking to become part of the network. On this interactive map (with a screen shot below), we show the cycling campaigning/advocacy groups on the island of Ireland with many of them member groups of Cyclist.ie. The map is currently being developed and updated further.
An Taisce and Cyclist.ie are now working to ensure that the NCC position can operate on a more permanent and full-time footing, so as to help build the network of campaign groups countrywide – and, ultimately, so that government funding can be leveraged to be spent on more high quality cycling infrastructure nationwide and so that more cycle friendly legislative interventions can be introduced.
(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.
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.
Cycling Ireland is the National Governing Body (NGB) for the sport of cycling on the island of Ireland and it is affiliated to the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI). As an NGB it has access to specific levels of government funding (via Sport Ireland), the bulk of it related to cycle racing, but it also runs a variety of programs supporting cycle training and casual or leisure cycling. We in Cyclist.ie work with Cycling Ireland, and we are close to signing an updated Memo of Understanding (MOU), which will cement support to Cyclist.ie from Cycling Ireland over the coming years, and enable us to work more closely together on agreed cycling targets.
This year’s Cycling Ireland AGM, held on Saturday 17th October 2020, was a successful online event to which Cyclist.ie was officially invited for the first time, and whose Annual Report contained a dedicated page on Cyclist.ie, also for the first time – see below.
It is interesting to note that despite the largest element of funding for Cycling Ireland being allocated to competitive cycling, the largest block of its paid-up members is leisure cyclists – nearly 70% of the total membership. This is also reflected in the results of its membership survey carried out this year, which shows that their main reason for cycling is leisure, not competition, and many of them participate in Cycling Ireland organised leisure events. This important membership category was recognised a number of years ago by the setting up of a separate Leisure Commission within Cycling Ireland. And looking at the objectives of this Cycling Ireland Leisure Commission, it is notable to see the number of aims that coincide with some of our work in Cyclist.ie, such as:
Promote Safe Cycling by devising and implementing Initiatives.
Continued support for AXA Community Bike Rides.
Promoting courses to train members as ride leaders.
Build communication with schools and promote cycling as a healthy activity for both physical and mental well-being.
Promote cycling as an environmentally friendly activity and an alternative means of transport for short journeys.
Build communication with local County Councils with a view to having an input regarding cycling infrastructure at the planning stage.
Cycling Ireland is also to be commended for the wealth of education and awareness programs it operates such as the flagship national Cycle Right training program, and also a variety of other programs geared towards getting more women and children cycling such as Bike Like Me, Sprocket Rocket, Bike for Life etc. Check out the Education and Programmes section of the Cycling Ireland Annual Report
So, we in Cyclist.ie look forward to future cooperation and development of cycling together with Cycling Ireland. Why not contact your local cycling club and see if they are interested in moving everyday cycling forward on your Local Authority agenda?
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. This is a must-read for anyone working on rural cycling!
Note that the image at the top shows a ‘greyway’ on the R445 (i.e. the old N7) between Nenagh and Birdhill.
By Jo Sachs-Eldridge – Transport Planner / Leitrim Cycling Festival
As George Monbiot so beautifully put it “Transport has always been about so much more than transport. It’s about the way we live.“
And now is the time to make a real difference to the way we all live.
We have unprecedented levels of support for active travel in the Programme for Government. More specifically this Government has committed to:
‘Mandate that every local authority, with assistance from the National Transport Authority (NTA), adopts a high-quality cycling policy, carries out an assessment of their roads network and develops cycle network plans, which will be implemented with the help of a suitably qualified Cycling Officer with clear powers and roles.’
We greatly welcome the Government’s recent commitment of funding as part of the Active Travel stimulus. What we now need is investment in the other elements – the policy changes, the network planning and the technical, professional and organisational capital to make it happen.
And, critically, our Government needs to lead on this. Yes, we need local champions in local authorities. But they can’t be expected to do it alone. They need direction, they need support to produce ambitious plans and they need training to build capacity.
And the driver for all of this has to be leadership from our national government. Without that leadership and an over reliance on local champions, the disparity between urban and rural will continue to grow, as cities are more likely to have the capacity and resources to make the changes we need and rural Ireland will again be left behind.
Without leadership there is a danger that the funding is unlikely to have a real impact on the way people travel for everyday journeys – in our cities, towns, villages and countryside.
Active Travel Wales Act 2013
In 2013 our near neighbours passed the Active Travel Wales Act which placed a duty on all local authorities to create and maintain not just road networks, but walking and cycling networks too. And it stipulated that the routes developed in this Act should cater for “active travel journeys” which they defined as
‘a journey made to or from a workplace or educational establishment or in order to access health, leisure or other services or facilities.’
In other words these were not primarily leisure routes, these were routes which would replace journeys made by motorised transport.
This Act was a world first. An exciting step change.
Or so we thought.
Unfortunately the Active Travel Wales Act has not achieved what it should have in the years since it was ratified. With the exception of the capital, Cardiff, cycling levels in Welsh towns and cities remain stubbornly low. Reports suggest this is down to a lack of leadership, a lack of funding and a lack of engagement/understanding within various local authorities.
With a mandate here in Ireland that has a similar ambition – to plan and create networks of routes in every authority – let’s not make the same mistakes, let’s learn from our nearest neighbours. They too saw the value in network plans. Yet they haven’t made them a reality. Not yet anyway. But rather than dismissing the value of the Act, let us show them how it can be done. With a clear mandate, a Minister of Transport who is fully supportive and funding available – now is our opportunity.
The value of cycle network plans
I was part of the advisory group that developed the initial guidance to accompany the Active Travel Act and I authored much of the chapter on network planning, based on my experience in Cardiff Council where I had previously worked as the Cycling Officer within the Transport Policy team.
Based on that experience in Cardiff, I still passionately believe that evidence-based, ambitious, strategic cycle network plans have huge value. They matter because, if used well they can be key to making the changes we need in terms of funding, ownership, understanding, integration, engagement and, crucially, behaviour change.
When I started out in Cardiff the numbers cycling were surprisingly low considering how compact the city is, the large student population, the size and how green and flat it is. There were no excuses. Now Cardiff is rated by some as one of the best cities for cyclists across the UK.
A huge part of this revolution is thanks to having a well developed cycle network plan and using that plan to its absolute fullest.
(It’s worth noting that Cardiff created a network plan prior to the Act coming into legislation and that plan and its implementation has continued to evolve and receive funding since its inception, so Cardiff has gone against the broader trend in Wales.)
What did developing a good network plan and using it to its fullest look like?
1. The plan was developed based on real desire lines. Local Transport Projects (a transport planning and engineering company with expertise in cycling), who were appointed to develop the original network plan for the city, used a broad range of qualitative and quantitative research to identify the real desire lines across the city, the routes people really needed to be able to cycle to work, to shops, to school, to socialise.
2. The plan was developed in consultation with user groups, advocacy groups, disability groups and the wider public.
3. The plan was used as a means of demonstrating the city’s ambitions, to engender the idea that cycling was a real alternative – and that this cycle network was an important part of the city’s future.
4. The plan was used as a way of engaging with internal officers – particularly road safety, traffic management, signal engineers and development control officers. This internal engagement was key, as these are the people that have the power to ‘design out’ the usability of a route or even just to block it entirely. We developed the guidance in partnership with them, we held training sessions, we acted as if they mattered. Because they did. Without their support, building quality routes would be almost impossible.
5. The plan allowed us to increase our funding from within the local transport budget and via Welsh Government and regional funding pots because we had evidence and data to back up our funding bids.
6. Having a network plan also allowed cycling to be integrated with other strategic transport plans. This allowed for schemes to be developed in conjunction with each other and funding to be allocated on a meaningful basis.
7. Because we had a five year plan we could do our design work well in advance. This gave us the time to really look at options, gather feedback, to really listen – all the things that make good design possible. Reallocating space on our roads is not a simple process. There are many different functions and many different users. Good design takes time. If used well strategic plans can give us that gift of time to help make sure we get it right.
For these reasons, and more, Cyclist.ie wants every local authority in Ireland to have developed and adopted coherent, ambitious, strategic cycle network plans by 2022.
This need for network plans is vital for both our urban centres and our rural areas. Network planning in these environments may be different beasts in many ways (for example as part of our Vision for Cycling in Rural Ireland, we are calling on our government to recognise our smaller rural roads as Rothar Roads and to reduce speed limits accordingly to enable the space to be shared safely), but there are also many obvious overlaps. All network plans should be based on the same principles of catering for desire lines, of connecting trip attractors to trip generators, and of being safe, direct, coherent and attractive for all users.
There are many, many great reasons to have a network plan, a really good network plan
We all know this. That is why it is there in our Programme for Government. But it can’t simply be left to our local authorities.
We need real leadership to make sure that mandate is followed. Otherwise nothing will change.
What might that national leadership look like?
Lead by saying cycling is a genuine transport priority.
Lead by investing in the technical guidance, professional development and training needed to make change happen (if this requires external expertise, get it and use it to grow local know-how and future talent.)
Lead by challenging Local Authorities to do better:
– create really great cycle network plans that are based on real desire lines and through collaboration with all of the people that matter;
– secure funding to build them;
– integrate the network plans with all other relevant plans and strategies such as the Local Development Plans; and
– get very good at building high quality, useful routes.
Then we can really start to change the way we live.
Cyclist.ie 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.
Cyclist.ie will be represented at the TEDx event by Dr. Damien Ó Tuama, National Cycling Coordinator with Cyclist.ie and An Taisce. In his talk, Damien will set out Cyclist.ie’s vision for a low carbon mobility system in which active travel is a core component.
It is almost eight months since General Election 2020 (Saturday 8th February – although it feels like several years ago) and since Cyclist.ie published its “#GE2020 10 Asks to Make Cycling Better & Safer for All” as shown in the graphic below.
Last week Cyclist.ie 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.
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 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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/).
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.
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.
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. .
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.
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.