A delegation from Cyclist.ie 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 Cyclist.ie delegation comprised Neasa Bheilbigh (Chairperson of Cyclist.ie), Dave Tobin (Vice-Chair), Conor Cahill (Dublin Cycling Campaign) and Dr. Damien Ó Tuama (National Cycling Coordinator with Cyclist.ie 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 Cyclist.ie 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 Cyclist.ie 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 Cyclist.ie – 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.