ECF AGM 2023 – Report by Jo Sachs Eldridge

This year I was fortunate to be able to attend the ECF AGM as the representative of It took place on 31 March and 01 April 2023. 

After my two days at the ECF AGM in Brussels, I better understand the role of this umbrella group and our place within it. I learnt lots, gathered stories and ideas for change. I saw things differently. I listened. I was proud of Ireland. And I drank some great beer. 

Here is the official report from ECF on the AGM

Some key take-aways from my experience include the following:

  1. There is, rightly, both much confusion and quiet excitement about the forthcoming Cycling Declaration(s), the EU Cycling Strategy, and the potential European Year of Cycling in 2024.

Developments are well worth following as these strategies / declarations etc. have the potential to bring about greater emphasis, greater political will and more funding for cycling. 

The ECF has influenced the need for and wording of many of these strategies and declarations either directly and indirectly – highlighting their key role at the European level. 

  1. Building on ECF’s open letter at COP26, which was signed by 350+ organisations and managed to secure a last minute addition acknowledging the need for a wider system transformation, last year’s COP27 saw ECF presenting an open letter calling for more investment in walking and cycling to tackle the climate emergency. 400+ organisations from 73 countries signed it – including (see our article on this from Nov 2022 here).  

As a result of the COP26 open letter, ECF alongside Walk21 and other organisations co-founded PATH – Partnership of Active Travel and Health. This global coalition calls on governments to make a real commitment to and greater investment in walking and cycling as key solutions to climate, health and equity solutions. It also provides expertise that makes the case and can be a useful resource. 

  1. There was a useful workshop on the ECF re-branding and a panel discussion on membership – both of which are pertinent for us as we embark on our own re-branding and membership recruitment drive. 
  1. It was also great to see Ireland almost at the top of a cycling leader board! The image below shows the total annual investment in cycling per capita (in Euro per capita) – Ireland is second from the right behind Flanders and ahead of Norway, the Netherlands and Germany. We just need to help ensure that level of investment continues and results in quality infrastructure that has the potential to cater for real journeys.
  1. I’m also pleased to report that Dr. Damien Ó Tuama,’s National Cycling Coordinator, was elected by members to sit on the ECF Nominations Committee. 

I would highly recommend attending an ECF AGM. 

The 2024 edition will take place in Zagreb, Croatia – get your names down quick! Countrywide Presence in St. Patrick’s Day Parade now has 35 member groups and our network of volunteers is growing rapidly. For many years, our groups have participated in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in our cities, towns and smaller villages. This goes way back to the mid/late 1990s when Dublin Cycling Campaign first took to the streets in Dublin’s parade. In this article, we give a little flavour of how our groups brought bicycles into the parade countrywide – from Clonakilty to Connemara and across to the capital. 

Dublin Cycling Campaign (DCC) had a fabulous “Bikes and Biodiversity” themed presence, created by our Artistic Director, Donna Cooney, and supported by designer and DCC member Phil Murray and a wider team of coordinators and volunteers. Almost 100 participants took part including many kids on bikes and lots of non-standard cycles.

See the web article Dublin Cycling Campaign web article here for more on the Dublin cycling presence – plus some photos below. A recording of the Dublin parade can be seen on YouTube at this link with Dublin Cycling Campaign’s float viewable from 2hr 1min to 2hr 3min. 

Deputy Ivana Bacik and Cllr Donna Conney in the middle of the space! Photo credit (c) Norma Burke.
Gettting ready to start! Photo credit (c) Norma Burke.
Dublin Cycling Campaign at O’Connell Bridge – Photo credit (c) Norma Burke.
Members of Dublin Cycling Campaign and Bloomin Crumlin en route from Bangor Circle in Crumlin to the city centre!

Skerries Cycling Initiative
Skerries had Active Travel as the theme of this year’s parade. The town is awaiting the publication of the draft Active Travel Strategy (for the town) and wanted to reflect the wider active travel needs of the coastal settlement. As well as standard bicycles, this year’s parade featured two white horses, a currach, recumbent bikes and a trishaw – and lots of walkers and dancers! 

Gort Cycle Trails
The lovely poster, produced by Gort Cycle Trails for the parade, is just below and is followed by a photo of Katleen Bell Bonjean from the local group. 

CycleSense Skibbereen
Cycle Sense joined the Skibbereen St Patrick’s Parade for the first time. Volunteers, cycle instructors and members of our Cycle Bus took part. They adorned our bikes with Doves and peace signs for the All Nations theme. They took their cargo bike, flat wheelbase trailer and butcher’s bike and finally got to use their slogan “Keep Skibbereen Wheely Safe!”.  

Connemara Greenway Alliance
Great to see the float below and the promotion of the campaign to develop the full greenway from Galway out to Oughterard and beyond!  

Rothar Rogues (Durrow, Co Laois)
Members of the “Rothar Rogues” (A Men’s Shed on Wheels) on the Pedal Vintage float at the St Patrick’s Day Parade in Durrow Co. Laois can be seen below. The “Rothar Rogues” are a group of healthy, retired men who meet each week for a leisure cycle and coffee; interspersed with banter, lies and jokes, with the occasional, serious intervention of poetry and prose.

Republic of Bike (Cork) 
The Republic of Bike (RoB) took part in the Cork St. Patrick’s Day Parade as part of the Cork Environmental Forum (CEF) group. For the second year running, they collaborated with the CEF and the Cork Community Bikes. RoB brought a bit of disco fever to the parade with their flagship event, the Bike Bop, taking centre stage. The group contained bikes of all shapes and sizes and they were very well received by the crowd. Great fun was had by all and it was a very positive experience for all involved!  

A snap of the group from the parade Facebook page


The group before take-off!

Maynooth Cycling Campaign
In what was almost a photo finish, Maynooth Cycling Campaign finally took delivery of its own Cycling Without Age trishaw just three days before St. Patrick’s Day. They are looking forward to working with St. John of God in demonstrating Cycling for All in a practical way by offering cycle rides to people who are unable to cycle on their own for various different (health) reasons. Maynooth Cycling Campaign thanks in particular Kildare Sports Partnership as well as Kildare County Council and Healthy Ireland for their assistance. The project would not have been a success without their support. Meeting with An Garda Síochána Assistant Commissioner

A delegation from was delighted to meet with An Garda Síochána Assistant Commissioner Paula Hilman and her staff earlier today (Wed 5th April 2023) in Dublin. Assistant Commissioner Hilman’s area of responsibility is Roads Policing and Community Engagement, so there was plenty for us to discuss.

The delegation comprised Neasa Bheilbigh (Chairperson of, Dave Tobin (Vice-Chair), Conor Cahill (Dublin Cycling Campaign) and Dr. Damien Ó Tuama (National Cycling Coordinator with and An Taisce), while the AGS team comprised the Assistant Commissioner, Jane Humphries (Chief Superintendent in the National Roads Policing Bureau), and Sergeant Sinéad Downey.  All are pictured below (bar Sergeant Downey).

Overall it was extremely valuable for to be able to share some of our members’ experiences of road danger issues such as close overtaking, illegal car parking on footpaths, and speeding which, collectively, lead to so many people not feeling safe cycling in Ireland – as reported, for example, by The Journal in this article (from 2018). We also began to discuss some of the interventions, policies and enforcement practices advanced in other jurisdictions where cycling levels are much higher and where more children travel to and from school on their own due to better quality infrastructure and enforcement practices. 

Additionally, we stressed how much the wider public benefits from more and more people cycling even if an individual does not cycle him or herself – with the benefits accruing from improved air quality, reduced congestion and less noise pollution. And at a population level, we know that physical activity like walking and cycling has been proven to reduce the risk of heart disease as well as cancer, and is recognised as having a positive effect on managing conditions like depression and Parkinson’s – as set out by the Irish Heart Foundation here

We wish to thank the Assistant Commissioner and her team for their time in meeting with and we look forward to continuing the conversations in the near future. Ultimately we look forward to helping to improve walking and cycling conditions for the benefit of everyone who currently cycles and those who would love to cycle but are dissuaded by the existing hostile conditions felt on streets and roads in communities and neighbourhoods throughout the country. 

We note here that this meeting with AGS follows on from a recent constructive meeting with senior personnel in the Road Safety Authority on the topic of cyclist safety. These engagements with state bodies are part of a wider suite of work, with much of it carried out behind the scenes, conducted by – all with the aim of “celebrating, advocating for, encouraging and enabling everyday cycling as a means of travel and as a way to secure many health, societal, economic and environmental gains, as well as it being an enjoyable activity in its own right” as per our mission statement.