Cycle in the New Year

Cycling advocates from around the country took to the roads on New Year’s Day 2021 to stretch their legs, enjoy their surroundings, and show support for the government’s plans to allocate increased funding for cycle infrastructure.  

This invitation to ‘Cycle in the New Year’ was an action led by The Rural Cycling Collective, a subgroup of – the Irish Cycling Advocacy Network, recently formed to draw attention to the dire need for a cohesive strategy to create safe cycling for all, beyond the borders of the main cities.

“Because our rural groups have fewer members, we often struggle with lack of resources and ability to connect with Local Authorities and so we have created a network across the country to highlight our common issues. Rural Ireland has many miles of smaller boreen roads that, if signposted and designated for slower traffic, could transform the way we can all move around the Irish countryside” said Allison Roberts of the Clonakilty Bicycle Festival pictured here with her son Ari.

“Rural Ireland is rich with natural beauty and cycling tourism is on the rise. This year we’ve all had to stay close to home and, for many of us, our bikes have given us the freedom we so badly needed – and physical and mental space.”  She continued “we also have smaller town centres with schools and local amenities within a stone’s-throw of residential areas, but nearly all children are driven to school because the roads are viewed as not being safe enough for cycling. Often, speed limits in towns are too high with little to no infrastructure for safe cycling. However, we are happy that some of our groups are now in talks with councils around the country to help solve these issues and strategise on the best way to spend the government funds allocated for active travel.”

Photo by Kevin Jennings (Galway Cycling Campaign)
Bearna Woods in Galway – Photo by Kevin Jennings

We are all aware that this school-going generation needs to become more active generally, and what better way than by simply building in safe and secure methods of active travel to the everyday school journey?

The Rural Cycling Collective launched their Vision for Cycling in Rural Ireland during National Bike Week in September 2020 and printed copies of the Vision were sent to Local Authority Chief Executive Officers and Directors of Service for Transport and Infrastructure nationwide.

Before Christmas, Local Authorities were invited by Eamon Ryan, Minister of Transport, to submit suggested plans for active travel projects to his Department for consideration – see €50M Walking and Cycling fund announced for towns and villages. This is a wonderful opportunity for rural Local Authorities to get things active in their areas. 

“Our goal is to work closely with our government and local bodies to build plans for each locality that will shape the future and make the best use of government resources. We are very excited to be in the process of opening dialogues with some Local Authorities already, and we look forward to all that is happening to improve everyday cycling in 2021 and beyond” said Joan Swift of Sligo Cycling Campaign.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has also signalled to Local Authorities that his government will fund any greenway project they have as part of its response to climate change as reported in the Meath Chronicle on 30 December 2020. Allison Roberts from the Clonakilty Bicycle Festival warmly welcomed this statement. hopes that by the end of 2021, we will have a whole swathe of new high quality cycling facilities both in rural and urban areas. Dr. Damien Ó Tuama, National Cycling Coordinator with and An Taisce, added that “we are happy to work with Local Authorities countrywide – both in urban and rural areas – so that we can build on the change in the culture of mobility that has happened in 2020. These are exciting times for the growth of everyday cycling.”

For more information or for interviews, please contact:

  • Allison Roberts, Spokesperson, Clonakilty Bicycle Festival: 0857574338, [email protected]
  • Joan Swift, Spokesperson, Sligo Cycling Campaign: 0879622234 and [email protected]
  • Jo Sachs-Eldridge, Spokesperson, Leitrim Cycling Festival: 0858161653 and [email protected]
  • Dr. Damien Ó Tuama, National Cycling Coordinator with and An Taisce: 0872840799 and [email protected] wishes to thank Ruth Bullock from Cycle Sense for the lovely photo at the top of this page taken in Skibbereen, County Cork.

We also thank Allison Roberts, Joan Swift, Chris Davey (well, Chris Davey’s friend!), Kevin Jennings and Gemma Woods for the other pics.

PS. Do also check out this article on An Taisce’s New Year Two Wheels initiative which includes some lovely images.  

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