This year we have already delivered close to 100 submissions to local and national authorities on various transport schemes – and have advanced campaigns on many fronts through our engagements with politicians, officials and the media. In another article, we will provide more details of this work and of the year’s campaigns and achievements.
In 2022 we have also been expanding the size of our network and are delighted to announce that, following the hosting of our Cyclist.ie Annual Members’ Meeting last week, we now have 35 member groups. These are listed below and can be seen on our map here. Note that back in 2008, Cyclist.ie had just seven member groups so we have quintupled in size!
We wish to give a special welcome to our newest member groups – Naas Cycling Campaign, Portarlington Cycling Campaign and The Republic of Bike (in Cork). We look forward to meeting up in person with them soon.
Cyclist.ie made the submission below to the National Transport Authority (NTA) on Friday 18 November 2022 in respect to the public consultation on “CycleConnects”. This was all about the proposed cycle networks in both rural and urban areas lying outside of the Greater Dublin Area (as shown in the light green shaded counties of the map below).
Cyclist.ie wishes to thank its many volunteers who chipped in with their local knowledge and informed reflections as the submission was being drafted – terrific team work all round. We also note the many more detailed submissions made by our local member groups in regard to county-specific proposals (which you can read here amongst all the submissions published by the NTA).
We will be following this process closely as it moves to the next stages of development. Watch this space.
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 member for Ireland 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.
Our submission here concentrates on providing feedback on the principles and standards underpinning the development of the cycle network and, crucially, interrogating the meaning of what is proposed as a cycle network, rather than location specific feedback. We also comment on the ongoing planning of the National Cycle Network (NCN), and the relationship between both projects. Additionally, many of our member groups are making their own separate submissions in regard to the proposals and these will provide more location specific feedback.
2 – General Comments We welcome the commitment in the CycleConnects document ‘to enable and promote higher levels of sustainable transport and are therefore tasked with increasing active travel mode shares – supporting new cyclists, those transitioning from other non-sustainable modes and improving conditions for existing cyclists’. It is an important and welcome restatement of government policy in this area.
2.1Cycle Connects and the National Cycle Network (NCN) We note the reference in the CycleConnects report to the regular collaboration with the TII team working on the NCN. This is good to hear, although we are disappointed that the publication of the NCN final report has been delayed beyond its original date, and thus makes comparison for us, as advocates, more difficult. Much of our (Cyclist.ie’s) comments in our detailed submission on the NCN, delivered earlier this year, can be applied to the development of CycleConnects. Of necessity there is some repetition. In essence all of the points raised in Section 2 of our NCN submission are also germane to the development of CycleConnects and we ask the CycleConnects team to examine that submission and to consider its recommendations. 2.2 Who are the target users for each route type? We would like to see an explicit statement in all of the documentation (both the overarching and the county level documentation) indicating who the target users of the routes will be – ie. for: – urban primary routes – urban secondary routes – greenways – inter-urban routes This appears to be missing in the documentation. Without having a clear sense of who exactly the routes are being/will be designed for, the concepts remain too vague, and the meanings of the lines on the map remain too nebulous. This makes the consultation more difficult to respond to.
We would like to see a crystal clear statement about the target users for each of the route types being set out, to include consideration of the following cohorts (at a minimum): – parents with children on bikes / trikes (including cargo bikes) and/or riding alongside parents – primary school children cycling to school, sports grounds, local shops and other destinations (on their own) – secondary school children cycling to school, sports grounds, local shops and other destinations (on their own) – those commuting to work and other ‘utility journeys’ – those using non-standard bikes such as trikes, handcycles, mobility aids and trishaws – recreational cyclists – touring cyclists
Without the above being thought through, we would be concerned that future decisions about route alignments and infrastructure types and standards end up being made with ambiguous and perhaps conflicting senses of who the target users will be – and this could lead to routes of sub-optimal quality being advanced.
2.3 Urban Cycle Networks It is critical that any proposed urban cycle networks are given protection in local development plans into the future, to preserve potential alignments. Ideally the core networks need to ensure that there are permeability links into and from them to ensure maximal usage of the network, by surrounding populations.
In the ‘Route Development Methodology’ section of the main report , while ‘services’ are generally referenced in ‘Link Selection’ there is no explicit designation for bus or train stations, which will be a critical part of any developed network, as transport hubs . We want to see these destinations identified clearly on the Cycle Connects maps because inter-modal trips involving bikes and trains/buses will be critical as we seek to reduce the number of car journeys.
While we note the point stated in the FAQ doc that “no cycle infrastructure has been considered as part of the development of these routes”, we would like to stress at this point the need for 30km/h to be considered as the default urban speed limit in each of the urban areas intersected by the network. There is a need to make towns and cities cycle friendly for all ages and abilities. The default 30km/h speed limit is widely recognised as the far safer vehicle speed limit to achieve that target (see https://www.love30.ie/ and other sources).
2.4 Investment Prioritisation As the CycleConnects project moves to the next phases of its development, we would like to stress the need for the following principle to be adopted when figuring out how route investments will be prioritised – particularly given that we are probably going to end up with several thousands of kms of lines on maps by the end of the route identification phase. We would like to see a prioritisation given to making investments on the basis of the number of people living within, say, 5km of their most common destinations – and then on the basis of the number of people living within, say, 10km of their most common destinations (this longer distance can be very easily done on e-bikes which are a growing part of the cycling market).
Drawing on some of the analysis conducted as part of the (2007) Strategy for the Development of Irish Cycle Tourism, what often happens with Irish towns is that there is ribbon development extending out from the villages and towns in all directions – not just one direction, linking to other villages (which might be a good distance away) – which means that interventions to improve the quality of provision for cyclists needs to be concentrated on all roads extending from these villages. Therefore, one might end up with slightly wider local networks (extending into rural areas), which themselves are linked to the county cycle networks.
2.5 County Cycle Networks We commend the detailed exploration of initial potential cycle networks, and the opportunity to comment on them. In the FAQ document, under the section called “How have the rural routes been selected”, the following text is provided: ‘It has generally been found that rural regional roads tend to connect more smaller towns and villages than National 100kph roads which will miss many of these towns. The exception to this is when a 100kph National Road is present with a wide hard shoulder and thus the potential for cyclist infrastructure, and potentially is located along the TII National Cycle Network’.
However, we introduce a cautionary note on the above statement as follows:
(i) Many rural regional roads carry far higher traffic volumes than the local roads, and often at much higher speeds. They are also not particularly pleasant places to cycle on, and are not suitable for less experienced and/or younger cyclists.
(ii) While some N roads do indeed have wide hard shoulders on them, it does not follow that they may be suitable as designated safe cycling routes. The experience of cycling directly alongside motor vehicles (including HGVs etc) travelling at or close to 100km/h is frightening, and generally to be avoided. Additionally, Cyclist.ie wishes to emphasise that the so-called ‘greyway’ solution is certainly not a fit answer to this issue – See our website piece. The consultants and future designers need to be especially aware of the limitations of providing formal cycle routes on N-roads, as well as recognising the (apparent) positives.
(iii) Cyclist.ie would ideally like to see a much greater use of the local road network (i.e. non- R or N roads) in the development of the county cycle networks – but these roads need to be re-examined so that “cyclists are expected and respected” as set out in our Rural Cycling Vision. And as these local roads move closer to towns and villages (and hence have higher traffic volumes), then special attention needs to be given to intervening more radically in terms of reallocating space for people on bikes and bringing speeds right down. Some design issues for these roads are dealt with in the latest update of the TII Rural Cycleway Design, Section 3.4. Cyclist.ie would like to see the locations of all schools shown on the county level maps, not just on the urban maps.
2.6 Standards While not specifically referred to in the main CycleConnects Summary report, we note the reference to the National Cycle Manual under the ‘segregation’ FAQ. It states that the ‘National Cycle Manual and other cycle design guidance’ will be utilised to ‘inform infrastructure upgrades’. We would like to see all reference documents utilised for cycle design purposes clearly identified as part of this project, for the guidance of designers in the development of these networks.
3 – Conclusion / Summary Cyclist.ie warmly welcomes this first phase of the initiative on the development of local cycle networks across the country, which we fully support, and we look forward to feeding into the actual development of the proposed routes. We want to see these routes developing quickly and being used by local communities. Our local member groups are submitting detailed comments on specific local county networks.
As outlined above, and in our previous submission on the National Cycle Network, we want to see: – Prioritisation of route development to ensure highest potential usage by the local populations – Inclusion of bus and train stations (and Transport Hubs) and Schools/Colleges on all network maps, both urban and rural – Clear linkage with final NCN alignments – Clarity on target group users for the networks – Greater consideration of L road usage as part of the networks (along with a re-examination of speed limits on those roads) – An abandonment of the original concept for ‘Greyways’ on National or Regional Roads. – Listing and Application of the Design Standards to be applied
Cyclist.ie is happy at any stage to engage directly with the NTA in the furtherance of this important project, as part of sustainable transport in Ireland.
As part of our series of occasional articles on ways that members and friends of Dublin Cycling Campaign and Cyclist.ie use their bicycles, in this piece we interview Beekeeper Ed Sweetman on how he uses his own bike to help with his beekeeping in Dublin city.
Ed, can you tell us a bit first of all about the beekeeping you are doing – how did you get into it and how has it developed since then? I did a bee-keeping course back in 2015 and have really just taken it from there. Early on, I collected a swarm of bees from the HQ of An Garda Síochána in the Phoenix Park which ended up on the roof of the Revenue Commissioners in the city centre – and it has been going from strength to strength since. I now look after four hives on the roof of Drury Street buildings, four in a back garden in the Cabra area, and I have another two on the roof of the new Central Bank in the docklands. I’m really at maximum capacity now, particularly given the multiple locations of the hives.
Beekeepers are busy during the summer months, but I get a chance to attend some lectures run by the County Dublin Beekeepers Association over the winter. And yes, I was delighted to get a mention and some recognition by the association for the honey I harvested recently!
And what happens to the honey you harvest? Well, a mixture of selling jars of it to some local cafés and giving them to family and friends as presents.
So why would you be needing to move the hives, and where do the bicycles come into the picture (as against other modes of transport)? And do you know anyone else using bicycles to move hives? In a nutshell, I move the bee hive boxes around the place – ultimately so as to be able to harvest the honey crop. It’s not the main brood body (where the queen lives) that is moved; rather, it’s moving the ‘supers’ around the place.
I don’t know of others moving boxes using bikes and bike trailers. Some would use cars or vans – or else, they would have all their hives in the one location so don’t need to be moving them about. There may well be others around the country using a bicycle and a trailer to move hives – it works extremely well!
Can you tell us a bit about the bicycle and the trailer you use? Yes, it’s what you might call a traditional hybrid bike – nice and tall and upright. You are up above most of the rest of the traffic and can see everything. The trailer I bought second hand from a bike shop. Previously it was used as a trailer for a dog, so I just changed the cover and the bee hive boxes fit very nicely. It’s a lot easier than getting the bus with them which I have tried before. The boxes are awkward enough to carry. Bringing them about by bike and on the two wheeled trailer is simply very easy and energy efficient.
Do you hear the bees buzzing as you are cycling along?! No! They are silent!
Do you have any advice for someone thinking about getting into bee-keeping in a city environment – or any other reflections you want to share? Well, it’s worth mentioning that urban bees are often producing more honey than rural bees. In the rural environment, there is a lot of pesticide use and it can often be a food desert there for bees.
Overall, the beekeeping is very satisfying – I won’t be giving it up! Having said that, ten hives spread across three locations is pretty full-on, and certainly over the summer months. But it’s nice and quiet in the winter, where you might just check them once a month.
Anything else you’d like to add? The bike trailer is the business – it enables me to do my job better and easier than I would otherwise be able to do it. I might look at getting a slightly lighter bike at some point – it can be a bit awkward lifting the bike around bike-unfriendly access points when going into some parks and that.
A sincere thanks Ed for taking the time to talk to us! You’re very welcome!
Listen back to a special online public meeting jointly hosted by Cyclist.ie and Dublin Cycling Campaign on Tue 15 November 2022 on the topic of EuroVelo Route 1 (EV#1) in Ireland, also known as the Atlantic Coast Cycling Route.
Our speakers were Doug Corrie from Sport Ireland, who explained the context around the development of EV#1 and the main considerations in identifying, signing and improving the route, and Florence Lessard, who tuned in from the North Coast of Quebec to share her experiences of cycling EV#1 and camping along the way.
You can see the original notice for the meeting and more information about the speakers here.
On Tuesday 15 November 2022 (8pm), Cyclist.ie and Dublin Cycling Campaign will jointly host a very special online public meeting on the topic of EuroVelo Route 1 (EV#1) in Ireland, also known as the Atlantic Coast Cycling Route. You can register to attend here (with registrations closing at 6pm on Tue 15 Nov).
EV#1 is the long distance signed cycling route running along the coasts of Norway, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, England, France, Spain and into Portugal (see below and here), and it is one of 17 EuroVelo routes being developed across Europe as coordinated by the European Cyclists’ Federation.
We will have two extremely well qualified presenters on the night.
Firstly, we will have Doug Corrie from Sport Ireland who works with their Outdoors unit. Doug has spent the last number of years liaising and engaging closely with the 10 Irish Local Authorities, through which the route runs, so as to identify the optimal route.
While the signing of the route is now nearing completion, the route itself will evolve over the coming years as new greenways come on stream and other interventions are advanced by local Councils. This will improve the cycling experience and widen its appeal to a more diverse set of users. At the presentation, Doug will explain the context around the development of EV#1 and the main considerations in identifying, signing and improving the route.
Our second speaker, Florence Lessard, will be tuning in live from the North Coast of Quebec, having recently returned to Canada after cycling almost the complete EV#1 Irish route. Her journey ran from Rosslare, County Wexford, and on through the counties of Waterford, Cork, Kerry, Clare, Galway, Mayo, Sligo, Donegal, Derry and Antrim – and finishing up in Belfast.
Florence will share her experiences of cycling EV#1 and camping along the way. Some images giving a taster of her trip can be seen below. Florence has cycle toured widely in Quebec and also has considerable hiking experience including in the national parks of New Zealand.
The event will take place online (at 8pm Irish time and 3pm Quebec time) on Tue 15 November 2022. You can register to attend via this link here.
For more on the EuroVelo European Cycle Route Network, see here.
Cyclist.ie and Dublin Cycling Campaign were more than happy to support Stop Climate Chaos’ photo call held at the Famine Memorial monument on Dublin’s river quays yesterday (Saturday 12 Nov 2022), with many of our members taking part.
The event was organised by the Stop Climate Chaos (SCC) coalition, of which Cyclist.ie is a member, as a response to the An Taoiseach’s COP27 speech and as a call on the Government to up its game at the COP27 Climate Talks.
The photo stunt comprised staff, volunteers and supporters of the environmental, overseas development and civil society organisations making up SCC – along with activists from additional grassroots climate action and migrant rights groups.
At the event, the activists stood shoulder to shoulder with each of the six Irish Famine Memorial statues, holding signs calling on the Irish Government to stand with five named countries that are suffering from climate change exacerbated hunger crises and other severe climate impacts. A variety of visual props were used to remember Ireland’s own history of famine, and to make a plea to the Irish Government to make amends for the harm that Ireland’s own climate emissions are causing to poor countries.
The issue of “Loss and Damage Finance” – namely finance to help countries deal with the most severe climate impacts (e.g. the current climate change exacerbated drought in the Horn of Africa where someone is dying every 48 seconds from hunger) – has become one of the hottest issues at the COP27 UN Climate Talks and is getting increasing levels of media attention. Poor countries that are suffering most from climate losses and damages, despite having done least to cause them, are calling for the establishment of a special “Loss and Damage Finance Facility” at COP27 to help them deal with this devastation.
Cyclist.ie’s own vision of transport in Ireland is one in which everyday mobility is not dependent on continually pumping additional CO2 into the atmosphere and exacerbating the problems created from using fossil energy sources for so many other parts of our lives. For more on Cyclist.ie’s strategy, see here.
Credit for the photo above to Stop Climate Chaos / Friends of the Earth.
Note that the Irish Times covered this event on Monday 14 Nov 2022 – see here.
In this article, Cyclist.ie’s Finance Action Group sets out the current financial situation for the organisation in the context of recent rapid growth of Cyclist.ie.
This time last year, Cyclist.ie was faced with something of a crisis when one of its funders indicated they may not be able to continue with their funding support for our National Cycling Coordinator (NCC) post.
On that occasion – and again earlier this year – Dublin Cycling Campaign responded with a very generous donation to support the post. Additionally, corporate funding was received from two tech companies, Dropbox and Red Hat. A further positive turning point came when Rethink Ireland awarded Cyclist.ie a major grant of €35,000 following our submission of a high quality funding application to them. All of this gave Cyclist.ie sufficient funding for 2022. But where does that leave us for 2023 and beyond?
A small group of volunteers, including the National Cycling Coordinator and members of our Board and Executive Committee, have now formed the backbone of a Finance Action Group and have begun to consider how to put Cyclist.ie on a sustainable financial footing.
A wide range of funding opportunity options are being considered – from seeking government funding to enlarging our private income from both individual and corporate members and from other donations. The short-term aim is to fund-raise to allow us to employ two full time members of staff – the National Cycling Coordinator and an assistant / administrator – at appropriate salaries, as well as to provide the office and meeting spaces we require. In essence, we aim to run the organisation in a much more professional way and be better able to harness the energies and skills of our growing network of volunteers. As of November 2022, Cyclist.ie has 34 member groups covering much of the island of Ireland, having grown from just seven member groups back in 2008. Between all of our groups, we have several hundred active volunteers who are engaging with pretty much every one of the 31 Local Authorities across the land – and making a real impact. You can see the spread of our member groups on this map.
Finland has a similar population to Ireland. At a recent European Cyclists’ Federation (ECF) webinar, we learned that the Finnish Cyclists’ Federation was formed in 2014 and, like Cyclist.ie, it received some support in the years 2014-2017 from the ECF’s “Leadership Programme” for growing national cycling advocacy organisations. Since then, they have expanded the organisation to over 3,000 members (compared to our approximate 1500 members), and they now have an annual turnover of approx €2 million which has enabled them to employ seven members of staff.
While Cyclist.ie has made many advances in recent years and has made a significant positive impact on government policy and practice on active travel, we still struggle to raise the funds to bring financial solidity to the organisation. This means that we are not fully leveraging the extensive volunteering energies in our organisation to best effect – and hence not stimulating the changes in society we are seeking as fast as they could happen. With our own new strategic plan in place, we are very much aware that with a growth in our complement of staff, we can make a far bigger impact on bringing about the safer road designs and cycle friendly environments we all know we should have.
Over the coming months, our Finance Action Group will be focusing on securing sustainable funding for Cyclist.ie – and, most urgently, we need to bridge the gap between recurring income and current expenditure. If your company has a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) policy, Cyclist.ie would be very grateful if you can point your CSR Manager in the direction of our Business / Organisation Membership Scheme. Another option is for employees to donate to Cyclist.ie through “Benevity” – details here.
The UN Climate Change Conference, COP27, kicked off yesterday in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, launching two weeks of negotiations to deliver on the goals of the Climate Convention and the Paris Agreement.
The European Cyclists’ Federation, of which Cyclist.ie is the member for Ireland, will be there representing the cycling movement, and joining a global coalition – the Partnership for Active Travel and Health (PATH),comprising leading organisations in the sustainable mobility community.
The COP27 PATH letter is calling on governments and cities to commit to prioritising and investing more in walking and cycling through Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and integrated strategies.
Cyclist.ie is very happy to have its name added to the letter which can be read below.
On the occasion of the COP27 climate conference, the Partnership for Active Travel and Health, alongside supporters of more walking and cycling, issue this letter to governments and cities:
We call on governments and cities to invest more in walking and cycling to achieve climate goals and improve people’s lives
Enabling more people to walk and cycle safely is essential to achieving the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, yet walking and cycling lack priority in the transport and mobility mix and the wider climate agenda.
A truly sustainable mobility paradigm must include a much larger share of investment in walking and cycling. Enabling a bigger share of urban trips to be walked and cycled is a quick, affordable and reliable way to significantly reduce transport emissions, traffic congestion and road casualties, and will also deliver improved public health, stronger economies and fairer societies.
Transport is responsible for 27% of global carbon emissions and is the sector with the strongest growth in emissions. Road vehicles account for nearly three quarters of transport CO2 emissions and these numbers are not decreasing. However, the potential for replacing motorised vehicle trips with walking and cycling is huge and within our grasp.
60% of urban trips across the globe are shorter than 5 kilometres, with more than half of them currently travelled by motorised vehicles. Walking and cycling could replace a significant proportion of these short trips. Electric bicycles expand this potential further still, and walking or cycling 30 minutes a day is enough to meet WHO minimum health requirements and reduce the risk of premature death by 20 to 30%.
With COP27 being hosted in Africa, it is worth noting that across the continent walking is already the primary mode of transport for the majority of people. Up to 78% walk every day – often because they have no other choice. And they put their lives at risk the moment they step out of their homes due to roads dominated by speeding cars, missing sidewalks, makeshift crossings and high-polluting vehicles. By 2050, low and middle income countries will own over two-thirds of the world’s cars. With that comes an increasing urgency for even greater investment in safe walking and cycling infrastructure.
For all of these reasons, the Partnership for Active Travel and Health, together with the undersigned organisations, strongly appeal to national and city governments to commit to prioritising and investing in walking and cycling, through Nationally Determined Contributions and integrated and coherent strategies, including plans, funding and concrete actions for:
– Infrastructure – to make walking and cycling safe, accessible and easy to do. – Campaigns – to support a shift in people’s mobility habits. – Land use planning – to ensure proximity and quality of access to everyday services on foot and by bike. – Integration with public transport – to underpin sustainable mobility for longer trips. – Capacity building – to enable the successful delivery of effective walking and cycling strategies that have measurable impact.
We are convinced that placing walking and cycling at the very heart of global, national and local strategies to address climate change will not only contribute to meeting urgent climate goals, but will also improve the lives of people all over the world.
The Dublin Cycling Campaign CLG Annual General Meeting will be held on Wednesday, 7th December 2022 at 8 pm. The Dublin Cycling Campaign CLG is the legal entity under which Cyclist.ie and Dublin Cycling Campaign operate.
The AGM is open to fully paid-up individual members of the Dublin Cycling Campaign and Cyclist.ie plus one voting representative from each paid-up local group. You can register for the event here:
Elections – there are no open positions on the board therefore there will be no elections
Member motions can be submitted by individual paid-up members and must be submitted to the Secretary ([email protected]) by Friday 2nd December 2022. Motions will be proposed and seconded by members. We will not accept any amendments to motions on the day, so please make sure they are written as clear, actionable items for the board.
Final date of registration – 6pm on Wed 7th December 2022 (updated deadline). Only fully paid-up members of Dublin Cycling Campaign and Cyclist.ie as at 5pm on 2nd December 2022 can attend and vote at the AGM.