Cyclist.ie made a submission today, 19 Feb 2021, to the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (DEPR) in regard to the “Review to Renew” consultation – that is, the process for the public to comment on the renewal of our National Development Plan.
In our short submission, we stressed the need for sustainable transport and active travel to become the central, and indeed dominant, parts of transport investment for the state over the coming years.
Introduction Members of the Cyclist.ie network have started to compile a list of locations on National roads where there are inadequate conditions for people wishing to choose active travel. We highlight, in particular, locations in towns and villages in the vicinity of schools.
A copy of the Cyclist.ie letters dated 18 February 2020 to Transport Infrastructure Ireland and to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Transport and Communications Networks can be found here (TII) and here (JOCTCN).
List of N-Roads and Locations
Clonakilty: The N71 ring road that circumnavigates the town centre is also the main artery that links residential estates (new and existing) to the town centre and schools. It has no provision for cycling.
Sligo: The N4 through the centre of Sligo is a multi-lane dual carriageway which is hostile to pedestrians and cyclists and is not conducive to facilitating safe routes to schools.
Travelling to Summerhill College from Maugheraboy requires a child to negotiate this junction, turning right. Children from the Maugheraboy area going to St.John’s National School would also have to negotiate this junction, going straight on.
There is protected cycle infrastructure to Summerhill College but it only begins on the dual carriageway and access from the North and West is unsafe.
Sligo: The N4 between Sligo and Grange or Cliffoney is an entirely feasible commute by e-bike but is unsafe because sections have no hard shoulder, and certainly no separate cycling infrastructure
Kilkenny: The N76, N10 and N77 form a ring road around Kilkenny with no cyclist provision at roundabouts, creating major severance between high employment, education and residential centres. The N10 and N77 have no cycle infrastructure extending outside the ring road, cutting off many commuter towns, villages and recreational spaces from the city. The N78, serving Castlecomer, one of the large population catchments in North Kilkenny has no cycle infrastructure. Similarly, Callan served by the N76 has no cycle infrastructure on the approach roads to the town.
Wexford: Road markings on the N25 roundabout with the R733 recently had a left turn only applied. This negativity impacts bicycle rider safety for those continuing straight along the N25 towards Rosslare who now need to merge to the outside lane with 100km/hr traffic. This is a very popular cyclist route. A safe alternative needs to be provided.
Navan: The “Andy Brennan” roundabout on the N51 beside Navan Retail Park has been flagged to local councillors as a problem, due to the lack of pedestrian crossings. The segregated cycle lane on the southbound approach to the roundabout ends prior to the roundabout, leaving cyclists with no protection or guidance. The roundabout is situated in the vicinity of a school, hospital, retail park, and within a 50 km/h built up area.
Wexford: Allowing toucan crossings on N roads. We have some cycling infrastructure that comes to a dead end at the N25. Allowing a toucan crossings with associated speed limits would allow the opportunity to safely cross. (e.g. Barntown cycle track that comes to a dead end where the N25 intersects)
Wexford: Repurposed N roads that are earmarked for “Greyways”. Greyways need to be clearly defined and standardised to an agreed acceptable safety standard. The term ‘Greyway’ currently does not exist in the cycling lexicon. See the Cyclist.ie article on these here – https://cyclist.ie/2020/10/greyways-under-microscope/
General: ALL new N roads MUST have cycling infrastructure. Current example: Wexford – The Rose Fitzgerald Bridge, part of the extended N25, opened this time last year. Not a hint of cycling infrastructure on any of the roads leading to and from the bridge or on the bridge itself. It’s a 100km/hr road with a very thin hard shoulder and this makes the route hostile for bicycle riders.
General: Hard shoulders on N roads, which are often used by people on bikes**, sometimes pinch in where there are right turns. This creates dangerous situations for bicycle riders. All new N roads should include at least a 2 metre consistent width of hard shoulder in the absence of dedicated cycling infrastructure. Existing ones should be retrofitted.
** Note that, according to the RSA’s Rules of the Road, the hard shoulder is “normally only for pedestrians and cyclists” (page 73).
Carlow: N80 Ring Road of Carlow Town, unprotected cycle lane beside a 80 kph road alongside HGV traffic (below). This is a main bridge crossing point for Carlow Town.
N80 approaching Carlow Town from Tinryisland. This is a route that brings traffic from the M9 motorway to Carlow Town. As you can see from the Google Map image below, this child cyclist has no segregation to distance him from the large volumes of traffic to his right. The speed limit on this road is 100kph.
N80 – O’Brien Road Carlow A mixed-use cycle path, that is often used by people with visual impairments with assist animals. This is not safe for pedestrians or cyclists, and dangerous conflicts arise. This road is often used by joggers and walkers and this is a prime example of where these pedestrians deserve priority through raised footpaths and segregation from cyclists to prevent conflicts.
Ballon: This town has the N80 run through it.
Ample road width as indicated by the islands and filter lanes. However you can see that the conditions for cycling and walking to Ballon National School are unsafe. These children deserve to be able to cycle to school segregated from all traffic, but especially HGV traffic.
This spacing continues throughout the town. The space for segregation is there.
Skibbereen: N71 by-passing the town.
There are several issues:
No cycling provision
Before the town (East) traffic calming makes no provision for cyclists, forcing them into the flow of fast moving traffic.
There are two roundabouts at either end of the by-pass with no cycling provision
No pedestrian / cyclist crossing at the junction of Mill Road on the by-pass
The N71 west of Skibbereen has sections of the EuroVelo Route#1 yet no cycling provision.
There is no cycling provision on the N71 by-pass for Skibbereen. This N71 by-pass is regularly cycled and walked. The Skibbereen Cycle Bus travels along the by-pass and cycles on the footpath for a section. There is a grass verge wide enough for a cycle lane, however for the bridge halfway along the road is narrower and footpaths are narrower. A cycle lane could go on the road here if traffic was slowed.
On the by-pass there is a junction to Mill Road. On Mill Road is the community hospital, estates and the Showgrounds in which Cycle Sense is based. The Showgrounds is also in the spot where the circus and fairground are held, and it hosts the rugby pitch. People use Mill Road as a walking route and cross the N71 (bypass). There is a crossing point with dipped pavements directing the pedestrian over 3 lanes of traffic with no central waiting point. Cyclists also cross here to access the playground and schools beyond via a cul de sac road. There is a need for a crossing at this location.
Connemara – Mayo – Sligo: N59 from Galway City through Connemara north into Mayo and on to Sligo. This is a very busy, narrow, curvy road through a beautiful area of the country, connecting a number of scenic towns, villages, beaches, coastline, bogs, loughs, national parks, etc., that has great potential for bicycle commuting and recreational cycling between towns and bicycle tourism. Safer and more calm bicycle routes will be a benefit to all parties.
Laois: N80 approaching Carlow Town from Stradbally and Arles. Arles is 7km from Carlow Town, which is certainly within cycling distance. After negotiating a road with no cycling infrastructure, this junction with HGV traffic is what cyclists have to negotiate. This requires segregation.
N80 Ring Road of Carlow Town, but in Graiguecullen. An incredibly wide road with residential estates off it as you can see in the picture (below). The people in this estate of Heatherhill are unable to cycle safely beside the large amounts of traffic, cars and HGVs on this road. The width of this road permits segregation, but a right filter lane for cars was chosen instead. There’s a roundabout which permits turnaround in approximately 500m.
Laois: Sleaty Rd Roundabout on N80 outside Carlow Town
This is a single lane roundabout on the N80 with ample space around it. Given this roundabout is already one lane, consideration should be given to providing cycling access to Knockbeg College, a boys secondary school as signposted.
Laois: N77 approaching Port Laoise. A bi-directional cycle path that due to a lack of maintenance is now a single directional path. The constant rising and falling of the surface here not only is highly unpleasant to ride on, but also comprises safety as segregation is non existent.
No provision for cycling infrastructure in this town, and it is as a result dominated by cars. This town has been bypassed meaning that this town should be given back to its citizens.
In this article, Wendy Bond from Bike Friendly Bandon fills us in on how the new group came into being in 2020 and gives us a flavour of some of their aims and activities.
Bike Friendly Bandon started really during the first lockdown, and the idea came from Lucy Finnegan, who cajoled others to get involved along the way. Lucy had seen that her teenage daughters and their friends had felt more confident cycling around during lockdown as there was so little traffic on the roads. Indeed a lot more people on bikes could be seen around the area during the lockdown and many of us cycled more during that time. We saw this change though, once things went back to some kind of “normal” again and felt compelled to try and do something about it. We wanted to try and hold onto the change we saw during lockdown. It reminded us of when we were younger, that it was so much safer to cycle all over the place. We want to ensure our children have great memories doing that safely.
Bandon town centre and the roads around it are dominated by cars and heavy good vehicles (HGVs), like so many other towns around Ireland. Unless you are a confident cyclist (and even if you are confident enough), it can feel very unsafe and intimidating cycling around, and there is absolutely no infrastructure to support cycling in the town. Whilst there is a cycling club in Bandon, this tends to be people who are more competitive serious cyclists, going on longer cycle rides. We really want to encourage the increase of day-to-day cycling, so that every child, woman and man of any age can feel safe to cycle around the town. It may have started due to children and teenagers taking advantage of reduced traffic, but now we see potential to work with other groups with similar aims. There are plenty of funding opportunities and we found that we were pushing an open door. There are courses to reach out to lapsed cyclists who want to feel confident to cycle again; to run bike repair workshops to give us mastery over our own bikes; or simply provide bike racks so that people can cycle to the shops rather than jumping in the car.
We all know that making the town more cycle friendly and reducing the cars/HGVs that currently dominate the roads could have a massive impact on the quality of life in the area. It’s not just about cycling, it will have a positive impact in terms of our physical health, improving the environment around us and reducing pollution. Everyone we speak to loves the idea of making it safer to cycle around the town, so it’s just doing something about it really. In some European countries the attitude to cycling is so positive and it is considered to be so much part of day-to-day life. It is much safer in these countries because the number of active cyclists is so much more significant. Also, when most people own a bike as well as a car and cycle as well drive, it changes the relationship between cyclist and drivers and brings more respect between them.
So what have we done so far……well every Sunday, we have a spin at 11am on one of the quiet roads just on the edge of Bandon. This is aimed at families and people who don’t feel as confident cycling on the road and it has been a great success, although recently it is on hold due to lockdown restrictions.
As part of Cork Bike Week in September, with funding from Cork Sports Partnership, we arranged various activities around the town. This included safe cycling, fun bike activities for younger children, bike repair workshops, electric bike conversions, and we even had a trishaw at the farmers market, which took people on spins around the town. It was such good fun and well attended, the idea being that there was something for all ages to show how accessible cycling can be. We were really taken with how supportive the cycling community is. It really was a platform to raise the profile of Bike Friendly Bandon around the town and increase the interest in cycling. Whilst things have slowed down due to recent lockdown restrictions, we have run an online bike repair course through Cork Community Bikes and hope to start our own repair workshop in the town. We have received support from Cork County Council Community enhancement and Cork Environmental office, they have been a hundred percent behind us.
Looking into the future, our aim is to do more consultation with people in the area and work with Age Friendly Bandon to promote Cycling With Confidence. In light of the new government’s push to increase cycling and walking in the country, we are also working with Cork County Council and Bandon Walking Club to develop a Bothar Rothar between Bandon and Innishannon, and hopefully a route to the beach from Bandon where cyclists are prioritised on the road. We feel like this is just the beginning and there is so much we can do. We are also working with West Cork Development Strategy to create maps of cyclist priority routes between Bandon and Innishannon.
It’s great to know there are so many groups like ours around the country and we are lucky that here in West Cork, we have groups nearby in Skibbereen and in Clonakilty all with similar hopes about promoting cycling and improving safety in the area. We look forward to working with Cyclist.ie and hope that their knowledge and expertise will support us in realising these hopes.
In this article, Clara Clark from Cycling Without Age offers some suggestions on how we can kiss the (kissing) gates goodbye.
During the many Covid-19 lockdowns, I took to cycling through my local neighbourhoods, parks and housing estates. I noticed the many kissing gates and other metal barriers at access points.Some are navigable with a standard bicycle, but are impassable for non-standard bicycles, cargo bikes, bikes with child seats or trailers, wheelchairs, double buggies and Cycling Without Age (CWA) trishaws. I took photos of the barriers, and sent a file of 30 photos to my local Council, Dun Laoghaire Rathdown (DLR) County Council.
As a Dublin Cycling Campaign representative on the DLR Council Cycle Forum, I asked for ‘kissing gates’ to be put on the agenda. At that meeting, I offered to cycle with anyone on the committee who wished, to show them the barriers. This offer was taken up by Ruairi O Dulaing, head of Parks, and Councillor Carrie Smith, chair of the Forum. To emphasise my point, I took my CWA trishaw, and two volunteers came, one with a trailer bike and one with a child seat. Two hours and three parks (Clonkeen, Kilbogget and Loughlinstown) later, our point was made! This cycle also gave us time to chat and to build up rapport and relationships.
The next step was up to the Council who, in fairness, responded in a very practical way and now many of these barriers and gates are being removed – see the before / after photos below. DLR Council is currently implementing a Safe Walking and Cycling Routes plan, and these include routes through parks and quiet estates away from main roads. So, that’s another reason for removing the barriers.
My policy has been to demonstrate with examples and to ask, politely but clearly, for their removal. Praise and thanks are much easier to receive than abuse or aggression, and Councillors and Council staff have a lot to do. Winning their respect and support is essential to gaining a listening ear. I know that not every local authority has a cycling or a sustainable transport officer, but start with your local councillors, get the name of your Head of Parks and introduce yourselves. Take photos, identify the locations and explain what you need (e.g. kissing gates replaced by one bollard, with a minimum of 1.2m gap either side, dished footpath at point of entry etc.). Offer to take anyone willing out to show them what you mean. And then, praise and acknowledge any progress as it comes!
One question to ask is: what is the purpose of kissing gates? If it is to prevent anti-social behaviour, then how can this behaviour be managed better? The barriers themselves are anti-social. Parks are for people of all ages and abilities. To block the disabled, less-abled, and parents with children is to discriminate and disempower. Parks should be places to visit, walk/cycle through, sit and eat, play and enjoy. Give people ‘ownership’ of their parks by making them welcoming, provide litter bins, bicycle parking, seating, dog paddocks, and easy access.
Covid-19 has filled our parks daily with people of all ages who want/need to exercise and actively travel. Councils can come on board to meet these needs by #kissingthegatesgoodbye!