Cyclist.ie supported advocates from the Love 30 campaign who addressed Ireland’s Road Safety Authority annual conference last Wednesday.
Mairéad Forsythe and Justin Fleming shared the final speaking slot of the day-long conference. They jointly made the case for having 30 km/h as the default speed limit for all of our towns, villages and urban areas. The theme of the conference was ‘Tackling Speeding – Risk Factors and Interventions’.
Rod King MBE, who has been a great supporter of the Love 30 campaign over the years, also spoke. Rod has played an instrumental role in empowering local communities in the UK to implement 30km/h speed zones. The UK version of the campaign is ‘20’s Plenty for Us’.
On enforcement, Minister of State for Transport Hildegarde Naughton opened the conference with the announcement of a doubling, that very night, of fines for speeding and many other offences such as using a mobile phone while driving. Before this, speeding attracted a minimal €80 fine. No graduated increases apply for higher speeds.
Among the other speakers, Dr Judy Fleiter, Global Manager with the Global Road Safety Partnership, discussed the motivations for speed choices on the road. Guro Ranes, Director of Road Traffic Safety, Norwegian Public Roads Administration talked about Norway’s approach in tackling speeding with a particular focus on graduated speeding. Fines for dangerous speeding there are much more realistic, but don’t take Finland’s approach of being linked to the offender’s income level.
Senior Gardaí also addressed the conference, describing new technologies now available to the Roads Policing corps such as speed guns for patrol cars linked to automatic number-plate recognition. It’s to be hoped these technologies will be rolled out quickly and used widely so we can catch up with international best practice, but a timeline for this wasn’t clear. The appallingly widespread offences of driving and parking in bus lanes and cycle lanes were not addressed, and unfortunately question time didn’t allow for queries on this. It’s something the Campaign will work hard on in the coming year. Addressing car-dominated viewpoints that fail to prioritise the needs of vulnerable road users – never mind the environment – in official circles and culture is a high priority.
Closing the day, RSA Director Michael Rowland welcomed the Love 30 proposals and indicated that the Authority would support a national default 30 km/h limit. Needless to say we’ll be tracking whether RSA backs up these words with actions.
For more on campaigns for lower and safer speed limits in built-up areas, see:
Cork Cycling Campaign (CCC) has been in existence for over 20 years, and was one of the founding member groups of Cyclist.ie back in 2008. CCC has been incredibly busy and vibrant over the recent years. With so much happening on the cycling and active travel fronts, its membership and levels of volunteering activity have grown steadily in terms of running events, making submissions and advocating effectively in the Cork region.
The fantastic work of this Cyclist.ie member group has been recognised by the publication of this article on the European Cyclists’ Federation website. This can only help to further boost its membership and give recognition to the achievements of CCC. Check it out, and if you live in the Cork area why not contact CCC at [email protected]?
CCC is one of the 34 member groups of Cyclist.ie lobbying for increased funding and projects at central government as well as county level, and working to improve conditions for active travel countrywide. Why not become a member and support the work Cyclist.ie does? Check out the Individual Membership of Cyclist.ie and/or become a member of your own local group.
On 19 October 2022, Cyclist.ie made a submission on proposals for the “Naas to Kill” Cycle Scheme, as developed by Kildare County Council.
This is a proposed 4.4km high-quality cycle route connecting Naas and Kill via Johnstown Village.
In general Cyclist.ie warmly welcomes this proposed scheme from the outskirts of Naas to the village of Kill, a route that has the potential to be transformative, and opens up safe and relatively pleasant cycling and walking along this route.
However, we particularly urge consideration of the following items in drawing up the final scheme:
● Narrowing of the main carriageway through both villages to encourage lower vehicle speeds, and enable a better quality and continuous cycle track. ● Consideration of the addition of Zebra/Wombat crossings in further locations in both villages. ● Reduction of the posted speed limit from 50kph to 30kph in the villages of Johnstown and Kill in line with current guidelines. ● Remove all the unsightly railings from outside Saplings Special school. ● Upgrade the cycle route from the Dublin Roundabout to Naas Town Centre, in line with a previous Part 8, to ensure that there is a complete safe route from Naas Town Centre to Kill Village.
We were delighted that two members of Cyclist.ie’s Executive Committee attended the (fully online) Annual General Meeting of the World Cycling Alliance earlier today (Tuesday 18 October 2022) – Damien Ó Tuama (National Cycling Coordinator) and Will Andrews.
The World Cycling Alliance comprises the overarching groups in each continent of the world, and it was fantastic to see cycling advocates from South Africa, Nigeria, Brazil, India, Australia and over a dozen European countries at the meeting.
The WCA’s major achievement recently was the last-minute change to the transport resolutions made at COP 26 in Glasgow in November 2021. The WCA joined other environmental groups and secured a brief, but crucial, inclusion of active trave in the final Declaration:
We recognise that alongside the shift to zero emission vehicles, a sustainable future for road transport will require wider system transformation, including support for active travel, public and shared transport, as well as addressing the full value chain impacts from vehicle production, use and disposal. [The full Declaration can be read here.]
Before WCA’s intervention, the ambition had been wholly aimed at promoting electric car roll-out.
Having such measures set and agreed at global level helps us all advocate for improved provisions, even down to local level where, for instance, unsustainable and counter-productive roads and traffic management projects are being backed by local politicians.
Likewise, WCA membership can give credibility to those in emerging economies who want to promote cycling and sustainable transport in the face of car-biased urban planning policies.
Other initiatives of WCA include:
* Promoting World Bicycle Day on June 3rd – for the background on this see here;
* Encouraging the UN General Assembly to pass Resolution 76/255, which calls for all governments to promote and encourage cycling as transport;
* Applying to the UN to be included in all future COP meetings.
The World Cycling Alliance 2022 AGM elected a member from each continent to its Board, and selected a new Chair, Graham Watson, who is a former MEP and current ECF board member.
Cyclist.ie looks forward to engaging more closely with the World Cycling Alliance over the coming months and years.
The photo at the top was taken at the (2016) Vélo-city Taipei parade.
Cyclist.ie is delighted to have Lime joining as our latest Business / Organisation member.
This membership type for Cyclist.ie is available for those businesses and organisations who support our aims to make the cities, towns, villages and roads of Ireland bicycle-friendly for their employees, customers and their community.
Lime joins Dropbox and the Irish Heart Foundation (amongst others) who support the advocacy work of Cyclist.ie / Dublin Cycling Campaign as Business / Organisation members. Lime join as a “Gold” category member.
Lime is the world’s largest shared electric vehicle company. Its mission is “to build a future where transportation is shared, affordable and carbon-free”. See here.
More information on our Business / Organisation membership scheme at:
Cyclist.ie – the Irish Cycling Advocacy Network The Tailors’ Hall Back Lane Dublin, D08 X2A3 www.cyclist.ie RCN 20102029 Date – 14 Oct 2022
1 – Introduction
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 welcomes the opportunity to respond to the public consultation on NR2040. However, we are very disappointed in the limited options for submission of comments in this form – and with the word limit here which limits the ability to respond to the consultation.
We welcome the broad “NIFTI approach” where the intervention hierarchy is (in this order):
Maintain > Optimise > Improve > New And Active Travel > Public Transport > Private Vehicles.
2 – Main Points
What the draft does not set out clearly enough is how exactly, with figures underpinning the strategy, NR2040 and investment priorities ensuing from it will align with the overarching aim of the Government’s Climate Action Plan, which sets a 51% reduction in overall greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and sets Ireland on a path to reach net-zero emissions by no later than 2050. The section on Decarbonisation (5.1), referencing the EPA Ireland’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions Projections, 2021-2040 (June 2022), states the following:
“Emissions from the sector are estimated to reduce to 39% below 2018 levels by 2030 if additional measures in plans and policies are implemented, including significant EV share by 2030 and measures to support more sustainable transport.”
However, in the 2022 OECD report entitled Redesigning Ireland’s Transport for Net Zero: Towards Systems that Work for People and the Planet, (Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/b798a4c1-en), two of its key findings are as follows (pages 8 to 9):
“The Irish transport system fosters growing car use and emissions by design, and is thus unfit to enable the country to meet its greenhouse gas reduction goals while improving well-being. Growing car use in Ireland is largely determined by car-dependent transport and urban systems, organised around increased mobility and characterised by three unsustainable dynamics: induced car demand, urban sprawl, and the sustainable modes low-attractiveness trap.”
“Aiming at decarbonising the system via private vehicle improvements is unlikely to lead to substantially different patterns of behaviour, rapid emissions reductions, and large well-being improvements. Car-dependent systems make rapid electrification slow and difficult, by locking-in large and growing vehicle fleets. Even with improved (and fully-electric) vehicles, they also fail to reduce lifecycle emissions, address accessibility gaps and other negative impacts (e.g. road fatalities).”
The same report recommends the following (page 9):
Redefine the goal of the transport system as sustainable accessibility.
Prioritise the up-scale of policies with high potential to transform the car-dependent system.
Redefine the electrification strategy to support the transition towards a sustainable transport system.
Embrace a systemic approach to policy decision-making across government departments.
It is our view that the current NR2040 strategy needs to engage with and respond to these recommendations.
In short, the final / adopted version of the NR2040 strategy needs to respond fully to the newly published OECD analysis.
It also needs to set out how the implementation of the strategy will contribute, in concrete terms, to the steady decarbonisation of the Irish transport sector over the years and decades. This needs to be set out in quantitative terms.
OUR SUB IS CONTINUED ON ANOTHER FORM – VERY FRUSTRATING FORM WITH ITS WORD LIMITS.
THIS IS PART 2 OF THE CYCLIST.IE SUBMISSION. VERY FRUSTRATING FORM WITH ITS WORD LIMITS.
3 – Conclusion
NR2040 needs to articulate much more clearly how the strategy objectives and investments will lead to a reduction in carbon emissions – and not simply rely to a very large extent on assumptions that the electrification of the car fleet will solve most of the problems in this domain.
We have terrific news in Cyclist.ie in that we have been successful with an Erasmus+ funding application to the European Commission where we are partners with six other organisations on a project focused on cycling, inclusion and climate action. This project will build on our previous involvement in an Erasmus+ project which was led by the same dynamic group of cycling advocates and teachers from Corella in Spain as is leading on this project. You can read the full press release here.
Four countries. Seven partners. Three years. €250,000. These are some of the key figures of the Erasmus+ project Generations Pedaling for Inclusion and Climate Action or, in its abbreviated version, GenCy4In&ClimA.
It is jointly coordinated by IES Alhama and Biciclistas de Corella (Navarra, Spain), who have partnered with four secondary schools: Zespol Szkol Ponadpodstawowych (Wodzislaw Slaski, Poland), Escola Secundária Azambuja (Ribatejo, Portugal), Newtown School (Waterford, Ireland) and a third partner from Navarra (Spain), Tierra Estella High School. Additionally, Cyclist.ie –the Irish Cycling Advocacy Network, the organisation which encompasses associations all around Ireland promoting everyday cycling, is on board as a partner.
This new project builds on from the Sustainable Mobility, Sustainable Community project, which between 2018 and 2022 made many achievements such as a developing a Cycling Without Age chapter and running 400 rides for elders and people with disabilities in tricycles, creating several cycling trails, publishing a blog with more than 350 entries, and organising four successful training and learning trips to Navarra, Dublin, Copenhagen and Lithuania (and much more!). However, the current project includes not only five new partners, but also new contents that fall into five categories or work packages (WPs):
Coordination and implementation of the project (WP1): management of activities, budget, online and onsite meetings, blog, dissemination, eTwinning, etc.
Social inclusion (WP2): embellishment/regeneration of neglected urban spaces and creation of Erasmus boards with the activities of the project in the five secondary schools.
Climate action (WP3): vegetable gardens and tree nurseries, tree plantations, nature clean-ups and environment weeks.
Intergenerational relationships (WP4): “Cycling Without Age” (CWA) tricycles, rides and courses, walking and cycling intergenerational excursions and cooking workshops.
Urban cycling promotion (PT5): DIY bike repair workshops, cycling trails, etc.
These five work packages will be developed in the four countries, by the seven partners and for the three year duration of the project. Additionally, there will be two international Learning / Training / Teaching meetings per school year in order to meet the project objectives: Corella and Waterford (Ireland) in 2022-23, Azambuja (Portugal) and Wodzislaw Slaski (Poland) in 2023-24, and Dublin and Estella in 2024-25.
A further strength of the GenCy4In&ClimA project is its connection with the community. The project’s methodology is based on three premises: firstly, the students and volunteers become Erasmus ambassadors and lead the different activities; secondly, it runs according to a merit-based, transparent and public process; and thirdly, it aims to nurture strong relationships with local entities such as nursing homes, parents’ associations, local Councils, and other associations.
Many cities are currently struggling with their transport infrastructure. There are multiple issues and conflicting pressures to deal with. The present study offers a brief overview of one Canadian city: Vancouver1
The single biggest transport issue is usually seen as car dependency2; this is true all over the world, but nowhere more so than the North American continent. Some of the relevant aspects of Vancouver are:
Coastal city: this brings a maritime climate, which avoids the cold winters characteristic of many other Canadian cities
High Density: the city centre is characterised by many high-rise buildings
Wide roads: this allows for four lane roads, and also reasonably wide pavements
Diversity: Vancouver is diverse, in many ways: ethnically, culturally, demographically and economically
Transit: Vancouver has a fairly good “sky-train” network (only partially elevated), which offers a handful of lines that offer basic cover of the city, and out to some of the suburbs3
A dense and efficient bus network
Vancouver city centre, like most other North American cities, is laid out in a regular grid structure. This means a large number of similar junctions, almost all conventional traffic light controlled cross-roads. Catering for the diverse needs of public and private motorised traffic, cyclists and pedestrians is, in general, notoriously difficult. Vancouver deals with these problems with a particularly simple traffic light system: when the traffic light is green for one way, the pedestrian light is also go (white) for the same way. Turning traffic is required to wait for pedestrians; this applies both to left and right turning traffic.
This means that traffic behind the waiting, turning, vehicle is also waiting, but the two-lane road means that straight-on traffic is not usually delayed.
Significantly, the pedestrian waiting time is lower, and the walk time (time you can walk) is higher – than more highly segregated systems common in Europe.
Also significantly, this means the buses than ply generally straight up and down the major roads, are less delayed by lights than their European counterparts.
Arguably, this system is dependent on a highly traffic regulation compliant population, which is possibly the case in Canada, more so than some other jurisdictions.
Public Transport Ticketing
The majority of users, including tourists, use a “Compass Card” to “touch” on buses and the Sky-train. Like similar systems elsewhere, you only “touch on” on buses, but have to touch both on and off on the Sky-train. Compass cards can be bought and topped up etc. at machines at every Sky-train station. Recently, it has also become possible to use credit cards. Cash also is used occasionally.
It is very obvious that buses are much used by senior citizens and those less physically able, including wheelchair users. The bus includes a hydraulic fold up and down ramp than can be quickly deployed for a wheelchair, as on the right.
There is also a cultural element to this: when a wheelchair user is boarding, other passengers move out of the way, vacating fold-up seats to make space for the wheelchair.
Buses operate a conventional two-door system, where you board at the front and exit from the middle door. It appears acceptable to exit from the front also e.g. when the bus is full. There is a touch pad for fare payment at the front door.
It is not uncommon to see one or two people board from the middle door, where there is also a touch pad, but this appears to be done to evade payment. Interestingly, drivers do not seem to attempt to intervene, perhaps because the subsequent disruption and delay would represent a worse outcome than the loss of the fare.
Bus stops are quite closely spaced, and are placed just after junctions, which offer slightly reduced delay4
Bus Power Source
Buses use overhead power-lines, which provide low voltage direct current. This offers a system that is both energy and space efficient: electric engines are much smaller – and quieter – than internal combustion engines. They also offer better acceleration.
The overhead wires characterise buses as semi-guided, as they can move sideways somewhat i.e. to move lanes, but cannot operate detached from their power source. There are plans to introduce electric buses with battery backup, which will offer flexibility e.g. to divert round road works or temporary road closures5. Some diesel buses are also used.
Bus Information Technology
Buses include a visual and audio indication of the next bus stop; a stop will not usually stop unless either there are passengers waiting to board, or a passenger has requested the next stop, which is common elsewhere.
Most bus stops only show the number of the bus service(s) offered at the stop; no real-time information is given. However, every bus stop has a unique code; if this code is sent as a text to a number shown on the bus stop, the time of the next bus(es) is returned; this obviously requires a passenger to have a phone and be willing to use it. Apps offer the same and more information, but this requires a Smart-phone and the use of mobile data, hence is less likely to be useful to an overseas tourist.
Most buses seem to be sufficiently frequent that even this modest effort is largely unnecessary.
By devolving the point of use system to the users’ phone, the IT systems become cheaper to install and supply, as the distributed part of the system, always the most difficult and expensive, is externalised.
In the city centre, cyclists are evident on all roads, although not in large numbers. Certain roads offer a bi-directional cycle lane, placed every few roads, in the grid structure.
Such roads are thereby reduced to one lane each way, with perhaps a single line of parked cars also.
Since wheeled traffic and pedestrians use the same traffic light system, the addition of cyclists does not need additional signaling. However, it is not clear how a cyclist might turn onto or off a cycle lane, nor exactly how pedestrian and cycle traffic interact.
Off-road i.e. non transport oriented cycling is very popular e.g. in Stanley Park, undoubtedly the jewel in Vancouver’s “Green” crown. In fine weather a nearly continuous stream of cyclists is seen, many on rental bikes. This route is one-way only for most its length.
Increasingly, other forms of non-vehicular traffic are seen; these include electric bikes, electric scooters, roller skates, hover-boards etc. Some of these move quite quickly and present new and mostly unexplored issues.
Overall, although there is some visibility of cycling in Vancouver, it seems unlikely that levels are high enough to manifest the well-known safety-in-numbers effect6
Cycling interests are promoted both officially7 and unofficially8
Even at a casual glance, it is obvious that Vancouver has got something important “right”, at least compared to other North American cities. This is obviously no accident, and is only so, and will only remain so, if the necessary political will is present.9
The core features of the city and its built, IT and social infrastructure that seem the most important are:
Frequent and reliable buses and Sky-trains i.e. every 5 – 10 minutes for at least 18 hours of the day
Dense i.e. high-rise city centre accommodation, where people can live a connected life without needing a car
A tolerant society, where the less able feel confident to get out and about and use public transport easily, and all users feel safe
Good Information Technology, in printed material, in display systems, in ticketing, in Apps, in websites
Cycling is fairly well supported, although not yet all that popular
Diverse use culture e.g. a) cash is rarely used but is still acceptable b) having a Smartphone and being able to use it confidently is an integral part of most peoples’ use of public transport, but is not essential to use the services c) Lifts, ramps and / or low-floor buses are available for the less physically able
It is obvious that there are fewer cars than are seen in other car dependent jurisdictions, both parked on-street and in motion; were this not so, it is doubtful that Vancouver would be as successful as it is
From a European perspective, four lane roads would generally be seen as undesirable in a city centre; Vancouver seem to have made this work quite well, apparently by a combination of limited on-street parking, frequent buses, frequent on-street cafe spaces and periodic cycle lanes
Anecdotally, the city “feels” reasonably safe; not that streets are quiet, more that noise and activity seem harmless
This short paper was based only on a brief visit; there is clearly scope for further investigation