A VISION FOR CYCLING IN RURAL IRELAND – What the MEDIA Said

Over the summer members of Cyclist.ie, led by two women from Leitrim and West Cork, produced  A Vision for Cycling in Rural Ireland. The Vision is grounded in the evidence-based advocacy work of Cyclist.ie thanks to the input and guidance of its core members and created through the collaborative efforts of people from across the country. The purpose and contents of the Vision have already been posted here but we thought it worth collating the fantastic coverage of the launch of the Vision. 

Cyclist.ie appreciates the extensive media coverage of the Vision by Local and Community Radio Stations and by the Regional Press.  This coverage has been invaluable in spreading the word about the positive impact well-designed cycle networks,cycling infrastructure and other cycling initiatives can have in our communities.

The Vision was officially launched during National Bikeweek by Minister of State Malcolm Noonan who hails from Kilkenny and The Kilkenny People featured it prominently. 

The West Cork People 

West Cork People  spoke to Allison Roberts, Clonakilty Bike Circus, Katie Mann, CycleSense, Skibbereen and Lucia Finnegan, Bike Friendly Bandon, about their fun cycle events celebrating the Vision, and gave it major prominence. The Southern Star also covered the launch and included a superb photo.  

Two local papers in Kerry, Kerry’s Eye and  TraleeToday.ie covered the Vision.   quoting Anluan Dunne of Kerry Cycling Campaign, and Mayor of Kerry, Councillor Patrick O’ Connor-Scarteen who welcomed it warmly.  

 Further north, The Leitrim Observer  headlined its article, Leitrim Woman Leads National Vision for Cycling referring to Jo Sachs-Eldridge, rural dweller, bicycle user, transport planner and lead Rural Vision author!  The Sligo Weekender also covered the vision launch and aim

 Local radio stations too featured  spokespersons for the Cyclist.ie Rural Cycling Collective and gave them the opportunity to explain to listeners its background, aims and objectives.  Amongst these were Connemara Community Radio, Highland Radio Donegal, Radio Kerry, KCLR which covers Kilkenny and Carlow, Midwest Radio Mayo, Shannonside, Leitrim and Roscommon Tipp Fm and Tipperary Mid West Radio.  We found local radio to be a highly effective means of communicating with our target audience.  Many of the interviews lasted between ten and fifteen minutes so there was time to tease out ideas and expand on points without interruption, and interviewers appeared to be genuinely interested in what the Vision could mean for our communities.     

On Friday last, December 4th The Department of Transport announced that a sum of €50 Million Euro was being made available to Local Authorities to provide walking and cycling infrastructure for towns and villages outside of the Greater Dublin Area..  The Rural Collective welcomes this announcement, particularly the positive language of the Press Release from Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan. “Local authority applicants should identify convenient and direct routes for active travel modes, including, and where necessary, aim to reallocate space from motor traffic and car parking. Funded projects should be accessible, age-friendly and maximise comfort to people of all ages and abilities.”  This language augurs well for the future of cycling outside of the big urban conurbations as well as within them. 

Media exposure and the sending of copies of the Vision to Local Authority Chief Executives and Directors of Services for Transport  have helped to spread the Rural Vision message.  Already we have had positive feedback and queries from senior personnel in a number of Local Authorities.  Members of Cyclist.ie are happy to work collaboratively with our local authorities to realise the key points of the Rural Vision.  It is heartening that already some L/A’s have been in touch with member organisations. We look forward to seeing what these conversations will lead to as the unstoppable tidal wave continues to rise across rural Ireland.     

Carndonagh needs a Cycleway

PRESS RELEASE

Carndonagh needs cycling infrastructure in the post-Covid environment
A newly-formed cycling and walking group, based in Carndonagh, aims to encourage Donegal County Council to construct 10kms of cycling infrastructure to connect schools, sporting amenities and businesses in the town. Carndonagh Cycleway has now requested a meeting with the Members of the Inishowen Municipal District to put forward their vision for a comprehensive cycling network that they believe will revolutionise the town – and for the good.

‘Carndonagh is not a safe town for cycling at present’, Odel Ward said. She continued: ‘while there are a lot of road cyclists passing through en route to or from Malin Head, how many people do you see cycling to work, to school or to access our excellent local sports clubs?
Unfortunately the answer is ‘very few’, because there’s simply no safe, segregated cycling lanes. We are being encouraged to walk and cycle to school but it is currently dangerous with the high volume of motorised traffic in the town centre’. Research shows 30% of all trips in the car cover distances of less than 3km and 50% are for less than 5km. Many of these car journeys could be substituted with cycling. It is an efficient, sustainable way of getting around while reducing pressure on families daily taxi service, improving public health, lifting spirits and lowering CO2 emissions. From the research we have carried out so far there is huge demand for safe cycle routes to link the community but safety concerns are stopping the government’s health initiatives and policies from being implemented locally. Families are simply not comfortable using the local roads to travel by bike and end up driving everywhere under pressure.

‘One only has to look at what’s happening in other parts of Ireland, notably in Dun Laoghaire, to see the change that can occur given the political willpower and financial backing of the Department for Transport, Tourism and Sport.’ It’s not just for Dublin, cycling is a pleasant way of getting around on a daily basis and with the right infrastructure and appropriate clothing workers, shoppers, tourists and leisure users can all enjoy the benefit of the bike.

While the current regeneration project for the town centre is to be greatly welcomed, we can also further enhance access in and to the town. Members of our group have audited the current road network in and around the town and we feel it is feasible to install segregated cycling lanes that will enable children and adults to safely move to school, to work, to our local sports facilities and for recreation. The campaign comes on the back of a renaissance for cycling in Ireland, with bike shops currently sold out of stock and the percentage of those cycling having increased dramatically since March 2020, highlighting the massive unmet demand for cycling. Odel concluded: ‘we need to use the outdoor space properly so that people can enjoy freedom, good health and a lifted mood while also reducing air and noise pollution. We want to improve our quality of life while spending more time in an attractive and sustainable town centre.’

We are looking for the whole community to get behind this small working group as it will take a collective effort to make this vision become a reality. We will circulate a petition to
bring a cycleway to Carndonagh in the coming days and will be working on developing plans to present to the council. Anyone interested in being involved in the campaign can email [email protected] or check out their Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/carndonaghcycleway

cyclist.ie Highlights & Achievements – 2019 & 2020

Cyclist.ie has had an intensely busy and fruitful period of campaigning over the last two years. In the text below, we list many of our highlights and main achievements in 2019 and 2020. It is broadly divided into Campaigns, Submissions, Presentations, International Advocacy Work and Organisational Developments. 

It is certainly not exhaustive, but will give a good sense of our core campaigning work. In summary though, our advocacy work has had a significant impact on national policy, on funding for cycling, and in supporting cycle campaigning at a local level which, in turn, is helping to shape the approaches of Local Authorities and communities in nurturing cycling. We look forward to an even more fruitful year in 2021!

2019 Highlights / Main Achievements

  • Major Campaigns
    • #allocate4cycling campaign organised with the aim of prioritising investment in cycling. As part of this, many PQs (Parliamentary Questions) posed to TDs so as to help disentangle figures around the actual annual spend on cycling
Dr. Damien Ó Tuama from Cyclist.ie presenting to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Transport, Tourism & Sport in November 2019
  • Officials from the Road Safety Authority, An Garda Síochána, the National Transport Authority, and three separate sections of the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (Sustainable Transport, Road Safety and Tourism)
  • International
Lunch with the partners on the Erasmus+ project in Corella – with Justin and Allison from the Clonakilty Bicycle Festival and Cyclist.ie at the front!
Alan Curran from the Galway Cycle Bus presenting at the 2019 Velo-city Cycle Planning Conference in Dublin
  • Organisational Achievements / work
    • Growth of the Cyclist.ie network to encompass 20 member groups
    • Fundraising successes for the National Cycling Coordinator position 
    • Building stronger alliances with An Taisce and Cycling Ireland, and advancing campaigns collectively through our membership of the Stop Climate Chaos coalition
    • Hosting of two Council meetings for our members and eight Executive Committee meetings in 2019

2020 Highlights / Main Achievements (as of 01 Dec 2020)

Campaigners from Skibbereen in West Cork including the crew from Cycle Sense, a member group of Cyclist.ie
  • Development of a new 5 year strategy for Cyclist.ie supported by professional input and facilitation by Sandra Velthuis from Whitebarn Consulting. Strategy to be adopted on 12 Dec 2020. 
    • Hosting of two Council meetings for our members (plus an additional two special Council meetings regarding our new strategic plan) and eight Executive Committee meetings in 2020.