“Rural Ireland CAN cycle!!” Cyclist.ie Rural Collective tells Councillors.
Major campaign calls for support for cycling in Rural Ireland
A national campaign to encourage local councillors to endorse the ‘Vision for Cycling in Rural Ireland’ began this week. The campaign is based on the “Vision” manifesto, launched in September 2020 by Minister for State, Malcolm Noonan. Coordinated by the national cycling advocacy network, Cyclist.ie, an information leaflet has been dispatched to every rural local councillor highlighting the need to prioritise the 8 Asks of the Vision.
Joan Swift of Sligo Cycling Campaign said: ‘We are launching this leaflet to build on the positive conversations that are happening as a result of our ‘Vision’. Our initial launch was well received by local and national government and the public. We then brought our message to all Chief Executives and Directors of Services responsible for road infrastructure, and now we want to take that campaign a stage further and reach out to the men and women who are our elected representatives in our rural local authorities – the people who can really make this change happen.’
She continued: ‘Active travel is receiving unprecedented funding and staffing and if the funding is spent effectively it can transform peoples’ experience of rural mobility. The aim must be to ensure that in rural as well as in urban Ireland, cycling for all ages and abilities can become a reality. The 8 Asks, described in our ‘Vision’ are a pathway to achieving this.’
Jo Sachs-Eldridge of Leitrim Cycling Festival, who led the creation of the vision, explains: “We know our councillors are concerned about the same things that matter to us – road safety, rural transport options, energy use, physical and mental health. What we are proposing will impact positively on all of those and more. Our ‘Vision’ recognises the need to move to a more strategic approach to rural cycle planning and design. It also recognises the need to change the social as well as the physical environment on our roads – so that our public spaces are safer for everyone. Rural Ireland is currently very car dependent and the percentage of people who cycle is low but there is huge potential to change this. It wasn’t that many years ago that cycling was a normal way to get around. Let’s all help rural Ireland cycle once again!.’
Anluan Dunne of Kerry Cycling Campaign also stressed the importance of community and stakeholder engagement: “Local authorities and councillors should see us as partners and allies as they consider plans for cycle routes. Our expertise and hands-on experience of cycling in rural communities will be invaluable in considering what makes a safe route for cyclists of all ages and abilities.”