A New President and Board at ECF

Cyclist.ie was well represented at the AGM of the European Cyclists’ Federation held today, Friday 23 April 2021. 

It was another successful AGM with the ECF family of groups growing further. 

Cyclist.ie wishes to congratulate the newly elected President of the ECF, Henk Swarttouw (based in Sweden/The Netherlands), on his journey ahead. Henk has been a Vice-President of ECF for the last two years.  

We also want to congratulate the other new board members. They are:

  • Sidsel Birk Hjuler (Denmark)
  • Graham Watson (UK)
  • Judit Toth (Hungary)
  • Francesco Baroncini (Italy)

The term of Cyclist.ie’s Damien Ó Tuama as a board member finished at the AGM, as did those of Raluca Fiser (Romania) and Alessandro Tursi (Italy).

The new board members will join the existing members of Lars Stromgren (Sweden) and Camille Thome (France) on the board.

More news about ECF activities in due course.


The Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications is inviting every member of the public to get involved in Ireland’s Climate Conversation about the journey to net zero emissions by 2050, with a 51% reduction by 2030.

The consultation takes the form of a survey, and covers practical themes that affect our everyday lives, such as travel, shopping including reuse and recycling, food and food waste, home – energy and insulation, and local environment and climate action. 

The survey is open until May 18th  and can be found on the department’s website here.  The survey is user friendly.  You can opt to respond to only themes that interest you or to all of the themes and you can say as much or as little as you like. One especially useful feature is that you can complete one or more sections, save them, and return later.

Cyclist.ie will be responding to the consultation on the travel theme as you would expect.  We will be proposing measures that will make it easier for people to choose to make some of their journeys by active means. We will post our submission here.  We urge everyone to respond to the consultation and to make you voice count! 

For anyone who would like support or more information before making their submission, the Stop Climate Chaos coalition, of which Cyclist.ie is a member is running a series of workshops  on the Tuesday evenings running up to the closing date for submissions. People can register for one or several workshops which will take place as follows:  

  • April 20th – Electricity
  • April 27th – Agriculture
  • 4th May – Transport
  • 6th May – Public Participation in Climate with Clare PPN
  • 11th May – Homes and the Built Environment

Stop Climate Chaos feels that some of the questions are not well phrased and that the overall tone puts too much emphasis on individual responsibility for changing behaviour instead of on governments and big corporations. 

Public Consultation on Connected and Autonomous Mobility – Cyclist.ie Submission

Last month (March 2021), the Department of Transport ran a consultation on connected and autonomous mobility (CAM) in road transport. Cyclist.ie sent in a submission on it. 

In our submission, we argued that the overarching guiding principles to inform the roll-out of CAM in Ireland should be as follows:

  • Impacts on energy use (particularly fossil energy and to include the embodied energy of vehicles themselves)
  • Impacts on emissions (and not only the direct emissions from vehicles but also from the emissions from electrical power generation plants of various types)
  • Efficiency in the use of finite (urban) public space – i.e. number of people carried per lane per hour, as compared to mass transit and cycling.
  • Consistency with creating a liveable and convivial public realm that is not dominated by motorized vehicles
  • Impacts on people wishing to use healthy / active travel modes.
  • Pedestrians, and people with disabilities, followed by cyclists, need to be at the top of the urban mobility pyramid of rights and priorities, where the more powerful vehicle should be recognised as at fault unless they can prove otherwise both morally and legally, as is the case already in other jurisdictions.
  • The expansion of CAM cannot work on the basis of assuming that people walking, scooting or on cycles wear ‘safety devices’ (transponders), and cyclists and pedestrians should not be morally (or legally) obliged to carry devices on their person or bike.
  • The devices carried by motor vehicles can make no assumption about the requirement for a cyclist or pedestrian to be in a mandatory position on the road. In most communities and roads, cycle tracks do not exist, or are not mandatory, and all codes have exemptions for the far too common situation where infrastructure is blocked or unusable. There are many, many reasons why cyclists and pedestrians may have to leave a pavement, cycle path or the edge of the road, and indeed to cross roads, so the next generation of devices must not rely on some form of conformity in behaviour.

What we do not want to see in the future is the same oversized Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs) – but in a ‘connected and/or autonomous’ format – dominating urban streets and accentuating problems related to emissions and the use of finite resources (and not just fossil fuels). We know from UK research reported on by the BBC on 7th April 2021 that three quarters of all SUVs sold in the UK are registered to people living in towns and cities, and it wouldn’t surprise us if similar figures applied in Ireland. 

What we really need is a transformative shift in mobility policy and culture, where smaller (genuinely) zero carbon vehicles and active travel are prioritised – and not the promotion of autonomised versions of already oversized motor cars. We also need to be alert to being overwhelmed and blinded by the hype and unchallenged claims associated with some promotions of autonomous and connected vehicles.

You can read Cyclist.ie’s submission to the Department of Transport here

You can read an article posted by the European Cyclists’ Federation on Automated vehicles, connected transport technologies and cycling here.

A fantastic amenity for the people of Muff

Donegal County Council issue tender for first phase of Muff-Derry greenway

Donegal County Council’s Roads & Transportation Directorate has published the tender for the Muff part of the Derry-Muff greenway. The 2.3km section – of an overall 10km route – will be delivered under the auspices of the cross-border North West Greenway Network. 

Works will include: segregated infrastructure, the widening of existing footpaths on the R238, new and upgraded lighting, landscaping, drainage works and the provision of bicycle parking facilities at Muff Community Park.

Funding has been provided by INTERREG VA, administered by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB), with match-funding from the Department for Infrastructure in Northern Ireland and the Department of Transport in Ireland. The route is part of 46.5kms being developed by Donegal County Council in conjunction with the lead partner, Derry City & Strabane District Council.

Welcoming the announcement, the Communications Officer for the North West Greenway Network, Rónán Gallagher, said: ‘this project has been developed over three years and it is fantastic that this tender has now been issued. With a little bit of luck, construction will commence by summer.’ He continued: ‘our goal is to encourage modal shift while reducing carbon emissions. This will provide a crucial new artery linking Muff to Derry City as well as a fantastic amenity for people living in the village. It is also a tangible example of how Donegal County Council is encouraging active travel and creating a sustainable future for the people living in the county.’

With work on the Lifford-Strabane section nearing completion and the planning application for the Bridgend to Buncrana section of the Buncrana-Derry greenway due to be lodged later this year, Donegal County Council in conjunction with Derry City & Strabane District Council is taking a significant step to improving cross-border green infrastructure that will encourage modal shift and active travel across the North West Region.

Details on the North West Greenway Network – see here.  

NTA Allocates Over €70m In New Funding To Rural Councils For Active Cycling And Walking Infrastructure

The Cyclist.ie Rural Collective, representing cycling advocacy and promotion groups in the regions, welcomes this government funding announcement for walking and cycling infrastructure to nineteen local authorities outside of the cities – as can be read here.  

The allocation of more than €70 m is a good start to a process of providing infrastructure which will enable people living in towns, villages and rural areas to choose an active travel mode for their journey.

The schemes being funded vary from one local authority to another but include a large number of footpath improvement schemes, cycleways, pedestrian / cycle bridges, cycle-parking, pedestrian crossings, and public lighting improvements. We find it interesting that most county allocations reference funding for four specific programmes: 

  • Safe Routes to School
  • Low-Cost Permeability Measures
  • Light Segregation Cycle Schemes and
  • Low Cost Junction Tightening / Pedestrian Crossing Schemes.

It looks therefore as if these measures were suggested by the NTA, who will be overseeing and supporting the entire active travel programme, and we look forward to a consistent approach from county to county.

A high point of the funding announcement is that several counties where Cyclist.ie’s Rural Collective is active have received funding for transport studies / urban mobility plans. These include Carlow, Donegal, Galway, Kerry, Kilkenny, Louth and Wexford. Much to the delight of Jo Sachs-Eldridge, one of the key members of the Cyclist.ie Rural Collective, her native Leitrim has opted to do a County Cycle Network Plan Study! In Kerry, both Tralee and Kilarney are going to get interconnected cycleway networks which again is most welcome. 

It would be churlish not to wholeheartedly welcome this funding. After all, the €72.8m which has been allocated is greater than the entire 2019 funding for the national walking and cycling programme. However, we in Cyclist.ie do have some concerns. These revolve around the standards which will apply to the proposed new cycling infrastructure. In the press release announcing the funding Minister Ryan, Minister of State Naughton and CEO of the National Transport Authority, Anne Graham all used the words “high-quality” to describe the new infrastructure. However, at this point we are unsure whether the Department of Transport and the National Transport Authority share the Cyclist.ie definition of “high -quality”.

Current cycleway standards are to be found in the National Cycle Manual (NCM) and the Transport Infrastructure Rural Cycleway Design (RCD). The NCM is currently being updated and Cyclist.ie is awaiting news on what brief the consultants have been given. We very much hope that it will take account of Cyclist.ie’s A Vision for Cycling in Rural Ireland  and Irish Cycle.com’s CyclingForAll.ie

The first three demands in the Rural Vision are for an environment where cyclists are expected and respected, the creation and mapping of useful connected cycle routes, and implementation of best practice design to ensure routes are safe and comfortable for all ages and abilities. CyclingForAll.ie provides numerous examples from the Netherlands of what this design would look like in practice.   

A very positive aspect of this rural funding announcement is that all counties will be supported by the National Transport Authority. Up to recently the NTA only had responsibility for walking and cycling infrastructure for the local authorities in the five main cities and in counties Kildare, Wicklow and Meath. The authority now has a countrywide remit and will be supporting all local authorities in rolling out Active Travel and the Safe Routes to School Programme. We are happy with this outcome, but to ensure adherence to standards it will be necessary for the NTA to act as an oversight body and to withhold funding for any scheme which is not compatible with the new guidance.

Cyclist.ie are seeking a meeting with the NTA to discuss, among other items, our desire to ensure the highest quality of planned schemes being built with this welcome and much needed funding.