Last week Cyclist.ie made a submission to the National Transport Authority in regard to the “Connecting Ireland Bus Proposals”.
As per the NTA website:
Connecting Ireland is a major public transport initiative developed by the National Transport Authority (NTA) with the aim of increasing connectivity, particularly for people living outside our major cities and towns. The plan aims to improve mobility in rural areas, and it will do this by providing better connections between villages and towns by linking these areas with an enhanced regional network connecting cities and regional centres nationwide.
You can read about the proposals themselves here. We would encourage all of our readers to check out the public transport proposals in their own area and keep in touch with us in 2022 as the plans develop.
Note that our own submission concentrated on multi modal travel, which is not currently reflected in the proposals. You can read our own submission in full below.
Cyclist.ie wishes to sincerely thank its volunteers for the work involved in preparing and making this submission.
Cyclist.ie, the Irish Cycling Advocacy Network (ICAN), is the Federation of Cycling Advocacy Groups, Greenway Groups and Bike Festivals on the island of Ireland. We are the Irish member of the European Cyclists’ Federation. Our vision is for an Ireland with a cycle friendly culture, where everyone has a real choice to cycle and is encouraged to experience the joy, convenience, health and environmental benefits of cycling.
Cyclist.ie supports improved public transport networks and we are happy to see these proposals for increased routes and increased frequencies for public bus routes across the national network. However, while commending these proposals we would also wish to see a clear emphasis on multi modal transport as part of these network proposals.
We are delighted to see measures such as the integration of bus services with train services being proposed. Examples, such as the new bus service from Carlow train station to Arklow station which allows passengers to transfer from one rail line to another is innovative and praiseworthy.
The initiative from Leitrim of integrating regular bus services with private services, for example those operated by the HSE, and Health Charities shows a level of joined-up thinking at work.
However, we are disappointed that these Connecting Ireland proposals have not included any reference to the perfect opportunity to integrate cycling with public transport, and provide wider multi-modal options for rural dwellers in particular. We would seek that this consideration must be factored into the further development of these connecting Ireland bus proposals.
There are a variety of ways of approaching this question, including the following:
2.1 Provide bike parking at local bus stops:
Rural dwellers may not live along an actual bus route and may need to travel some distance to actually board any offered service. A bicycle, whether a standard bike, Ebike, or cargo bikes is an ideal and environmentally friendly way to do this. Facilities such as these are a norm in many northern European countries – see image below from Holland.
Dutch style rural bike parking at bus stop
2.2 Provide Safe & Secure Bike Parking at the Major Transport Nodes
As in all other jurisdictions which have reached high levels of bicycle usage, one of the major infrastructural supports for this is safe, secure, and adequate bike parking at bus stations and train stations. Examples such as those below, relatively common in other countries might be taken on board?
Dutch example of architecturally designed secure bike parking building in Dordrecht
Simple Bike lock-up at Llandudno in Wales
2.3 Provide Bike on Board Services
Many bus companies throughout Europe already provide opportunities to transport bikes on their coaches. It is only a matter of appropriate design to facilitate this option. See image below from Koblenz in Germany
2.4 Provide a carrier or trailer service.
Front carriers for bikes are a relatively common feature in North America. Options such as below could easily be trialled?
In essence Cyclist.ie maintains that as part of the improvement in the national bus network, the full integration of cycling with public transport needs to be addressed. We realise from webinar presentations made and Q&A sessions that this issue has not been fully taken on board up to now.
With the level of ambition of the present government in relation to increasing active travel countrywide, and the need to meet our climate change targets under the Climate Action Plan, this Connecting Ireland plan needs to understand the criticality of linking the different active sustainable travel modes into a seamless multi-modal network. This can enable multi modal travel options nationwide.