Mums and grannies launch 2021 get to school on your own fuel campaign

National Cycle  to School practice runs 21st August to 4th September 2021

The “Get to School on Your Own Fuel” is a women-led initiative from members of Cyclist.ie – Irish Cycling Advocacy Network who today issued a call to parents/guardians, and school communities to support their promotion which aims to help families familiarise themselves with their school routes.  This year the promotion will run from Saturday 21st August to Saturday 4th September. 

Campaign groups will be running a range of local events to help get children ready to cycle to school and can supply guidelines for anyone interested in organising their own event. Pupils and students of all ages are welcome to participate and ideally they will link with other families, teachers, parent associations, and local organisations to plan and test the safest cycling routes from home to school.

Everyone who participates in the #GetToSchoolOnYourOwnFuel initiative is encouraged to register for a chance to win a hamper of cycle-goodies (register at www.cyclist.ie/school). Practice runs can be held on any dates between 21st August and 4th September.

 Allison Roberts, spokesperson for the Clonakilty Bicycle Festival, said

2021 is a great year to start cycling to school! The new school year will see the beginning of the Government’s Safe Routes to School programme.  170 schools supported by Green Schools Ireland, the NTA and their Local Authority will receive funding to support walking and cycling infrastructure.  Following on from the government’s lead, we as local residents can help accelerate the introduction of new measures to make cycling to school  as easy and as safe as possible.  Even if our children cycle once or twice a week it will make a  difference on our roads, in our local communities and to the perception of local authorities. Safety in numbers really does apply here, if we can get small groups together cycling to school it will be easier, safer and more enjoyable for all. 

The list of 170 schools which will receive funding this year can be found here.

Speaking on behalf of Cyclist.ie, Vice-Chair, Neasa Bheilbigh said

Many parents and principals would happily bid farewell to the daily chaotic parking  scenes at the school gate but are unsure of what the alternatives are.  Key to getting more children  to school ‘on their own fuel’ is the familiarisation of routes from home to school. Cycle Buses have been offering a supported means of getting children to school safely. Other parents may welcome support to travel with their own children or to link in with a neighbour. Cyclist.ie is urging all school communities and not just those chosen for the initial Safe Routes to School funding to investigate if cycling is an option for them.  



National Cycling Coordinator with Cyclist.ie, Dr. Damien Ó Tuama expressed the hope that following two years of pandemic disruption, the 2021/2022 School Year would be a  smooth running and happy experience for all.

We in Cyclist.ie also hope that the new school year will see an explosion of interest in getting to school on your own fuel. We are only too happy to support families to do this in any way we can. We urge everyone to register for the Get to School on your Own Fuel promotion and to contact their local advocacy group – see our map of groups here.

The network of campaign groups is calling on schools to apply for funding for secure bicycle parking. They are calling on all local authorities and the National Transport Authority to support and fund cycle parking for all schools. As set out in our Vision for Cycling in Ireland, cycling groups want to see all agencies and organisations support the installation of safer, segregated cycle routes, remove barriers to cycling and walking through parks and housing estates, and develop direct routes away from motorised traffic. The groups are also calling on all local authorities to implement as a matter of urgency 30 km/h speed limits in all urban areas, especially around schools.

For further information, visit https://cyclist.ie/school/.

PRE-BUDGET 2022 SUBMISSION FROM CYCLIST.IE

Cyclist.ie delivered its Pre-Budget 2022 Submission to the Department of Finance earlier today (Wed 18th August 2021). You can read it in full as a PDF here. The introduction and summary of the submission can be read immediately below. 

A big thanks to our hard-working Executive Committee and wider team for preparing the submission. This behind-the-scenes technical work is but a small part of our broader advocacy efforts to put cycling and walking to the fore in government policy, practice and investment decisions. 

Continue the Programme for Government
Ensure 10% of Transport Capital Funding is Allocated to Creating High-quality Conditions for Cycling Countrywide

Cyclist.ie – the Irish Cycling Advocacy Network, is the umbrella body of cycling advocacy groups in Ireland (https://cyclist.ie/) and the member for Ireland of the European Cyclists’ Federation (https://ecf.com/). Our vision is that cycling, as a mode of transport, becomes a normal part of everyday life for all ages and abilities in Ireland. 

As recognised in the Programme for Government (PfG), cycling as a mode of transport offers numerous well documented broad benefits to society, including:

  • high rates of economic return on investment 
  • improved public health 
  • reduced congestion 
  • reduced greenhouse gas emissions
  • reduced air and noise pollution 
  • increased population mobility 
  • more liveable and sociable streets and communities

Cycling delivers multiple benefits to society, and it is essential that good habits are developed at the school-going age. Photo by Anna Groniecka at the ‘Back to School on Your Own Fuel’ campaign

Unlocking these benefits requires targeted and sustained investment, and international evidence demonstrates that investing in cycling provides excellent value for money. Despite some local objections and legal challenges, the Government and Local Authorities must continue to be steadfast in ensuring this value for money and wide social benefits are availed of. 

Cyclist.ie needs to see the promises made in the Programme for Government (PfG) become embedded in all relevant national and local policy documents and programmes, with clear timelines set out for all elements.  

We outline our budget / fiscal recommendations below (in our full submission) under the following two headings:

  • Taxation and fiscal policy directions to create modal shift to active travel
  • Legislative changes and the promotion of cycling

In summary we are seeking:

  • Continuation of financial support for Active Travel of 20% of the Land Transport Capital Expenditure per annum
  • Increased petrol and diesel prices / duty and VRT rates
  • Greater subsidies and supports for E-bikes so as to encourage a greater take-up of cycling (for longer / hillier journeys and for wider age cohorts) and a switch from cars to bikes
  • Improvement and complementing the Bike to Work scheme to include students, unemployed, and people with disabilities
  • Resourcing and growth of bike engineering training 
  • Resourcing and agreed timelines for legislative changes to support the growth of cycling

Full submission available here

Cork Cycling Overview

In May 2020, the Cork Cycling Campaign, along with the HSE Cork Healthy Cities Team, Pedestrian Cork, and over twenty other organisations, signed a letter drafted by the Transport and Mobility Forum which called on Cork City and County Councils to deliver safe streets during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As other cities adapted to the challenges that the pandemic posed for urban transport, mobility, and physical activity, planners and engineers in Cork City Council were busy drafting plans.

By July, a programme of works was unveiled. The ‘Re-imagined Cork’ project promised:

  • 1.3km of new pedestrianised streets
  • Over 4km of new cycle lanes
  • The resurfacing of 6km of cycle lanes and bus corridors
  • Upgrading 4km of cycle lanes with the installation of light segregation
  • 43 new bike parking bays to cater for 500 bikes.

Cork took a unique approach in Ireland by putting the new cycle lanes out to public consultation but the feedback was clear. For the South Mall Cycle Lane, over 90% of respondents supported the plans.

As Autumn settled into Cork, flexi-bollards were installed along sections of cycle lanes that had become notorious for illegal parking. Old and cracked resin on cycle lanes was chipped off and often replaced with a new surfaces. The first of the cycle lanes, along Centre Park Rd, was started. There was much anticipation in the air for paths and lanes that would make it safer to cycle in the city.

The January lockdown put a hold on construction work but by the summer, Cork had much to be proud about. A new cycle route from the South Mall stretches the whole way to the Marina and onto Blackrock village. Arguably one of the longest continuous cycle routes in an Irish city now.

New bike parking bays have been installed all over the city and are helping to regularise bike parking. Bollards and wands are keeping busy cycle routes, like the one along Washington Street, clear of parked vehicles.

The pace of change over the past 12 months in Cork has been impressive. The changes have both helped keep people already cycling safe and also attract new people to cycling. This is good news for Cork, every person who chooses to move in the city by bike is one less car on the road and one less space needed in the city centre for parking.

While much has been done in recent months, Cork faces challenges to become a true bike friendly city. Additional routes will be needed to ensure that everyone, regardless of where they live, has access to a safe cycle lane. Lower vehicular speed limits will ensure that injury risks are lowered in case of collisions. New cycle infra needs to be built to high standards and avoid sharing space with pedestrians as much as possible.

The last 12 months have shown us that a lot can be done when we need to move quickly as a city. The pandemic is a major societal issue at the moment but climate action, economic competiveness, and a liveable city are all issues we face also. The Cork Cycling Campaign are keen to play our role to ensure that cycle solutions to these issues can be realised. 

As a resident of the city, and one who uses a bike from time to time, I’d like to thank the NTA and Cork City Council for making cycling easier in our city and look forward to future plans.

Conn Donovan

Chair, Cork Cycling Campaign