Cyclist.ie was delighted to be invited to contribute to the recently broadcast “On the Roads with Simon Delaney” series on RTE 1 TV.
In the series, presenter Simon Delaney looked at Ireland’s new Road Safety Strategy which aims to reduce the number of deaths and serious injuries on Irish roads over the next 10 years and to achieve Vision Zero (no fatalities) by 2050. He looked into how we might make travel in Ireland safer, greener, and simply more pleasant, not just for the road users but also for the people living in the areas we move through.
Amongst the contributors were Jo Sachs Eldridge from Leitrim Cycling Festival (and the Executive Committee of Cyclist.ie) who spoke about the need to create ‘Rothar Roads’ in rural Ireland – a simple concept that would see some of our narrower, lightly trafficked roads redesignated as spaces where people on bicycles are ‘expected and respected’. This would involve a reduction in speed limits, and an introduction of gateway signs and behaviour changes such as approaching blind bends more cautiously with the expectation that there may be someone cycling – all of which could help make these public spaces safer for all road users. Cyclist.ie has been liaising with Transport Infrastructure Ireland on the Rothar Roads concept, and how it might be knitted into the National Cycle Network which is currently being planned. This was shown in episode #4.
Another contribution from a member group of Cyclist.ie was from Liam Frawley from Oranmore in County Galway (also in episode #4). He described the work his group carried out to get protected cycle-lanes on the routes to schools. This involved liaising with the Council, the principals of the four local schools, the Gardaí, the parish priest, over 70 businesses on Main Street, and investigating other schemes such as the Malahide School streets. Quite the epic to get the lanes introduced! Great campaigning work.
In episode #3, Lorraine Flanagan, Senior Travel Officer with An Taisce and also representing Love 30, a member group of Cyclist.ie, made the case for default 30 km/h speed limits around schools and in built-up areas. Lorraine made reference to the 2020 Stockholm Declaration, of which Ireland is a signatory, which includes a commitment to 30km/h speed limits where vulnerable road users and vehicles mix.
In episode #2, Kieran Ryan from 15 Minute Westport, another member group of Cyclist.ie, highlighted the disconnect between cycling facilities on the Great Western Greenway and those in Westport itself where so much of the public urban realm is currently used for parked and moving cars. Kieran stressed the need to reallocate space in the town for people on foot and on bikes. This would help to transform the town both for locals and for visitors.
All in all, the series made a valuable contribution to the conversations around road safety and making our towns and villages more liveable. It also highlighted how simple many of the solutions are, with lowering speeds and reducing the dominance of motor vehicles on our roads being key parts of any rural or urban strategy. The examples from Sweden, Wales, Spain and Belgium served to illustrate that it is not just the better known ‘cycling countries’ such as The Netherlands and Denmark that are leading the way in making cycling safe and inclusive.
A special thanks here to Mairéad Forsythe (Chair of Dublin Cycling Campaign CLG and from Love 30) and Martina Callanan (Galway Cycling Campaign) for the work carried out in advance of the filming which helped to shape the programmes and the choice of international examples examined.
The series is well worth a watch on the RTE Player. See here.