All posts by damien.otuama

CLIMATE ACTION PLAN 2021 – CYCLIST.IE SUBMISSION

CLIMATE ACTION PLAN 2021 – CYCLIST.IE SUBMISSION

A large part of Cyclist.ie’s advocacy work is conducted through making submissions to government departments, agencies, local authorities and other bodies in response to public consultation processes. In these submissions we set out Cyclist.ie’s position and make recommendations. 

Yesterday (18 May 2021), Cyclist.ie made a submission on the Call for Expert Evidence for the preparation of the Climate Action Plan 2021. A copy of our submission on the topic of transport is pasted below. 

The overarching context here is the commitment in the 2020 Programme for Government to an average 7% per annum reduction in overall greenhouse gas emissions from 2021 to 2030 (a 51% reduction over the decade), and to achieving net zero emissions by 2050. 

We note in particular that according to the EPA, the transport sector in Ireland accounted for 20.3% of greenhouse gas emissions in 2019. And between 1990 and 2019, transport showed the greatest overall increase in emissions at 136.8%, with road transport increasing by 142.4%.

The direction that transport takes over the next ten years clearly needs to change radically if we are to address the climate and biodiversity crisis which threatens our safe future on this planet.

We need to step up our campaigning.

Image from: https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/images/147659/shadows-from-a-solar-eclipse

Transport 

1 What further policy measures might be required to enable Ireland to meet the CAP 2019 target of 936,000 electric vehicles on the road by 2030? 

We need to be massively increasing the number of electric-assist bikes on the road, and not simply seek to replace a 1500kg+ fossil energy powered car with an equally heavy EV version which itself has a significant embodied energy from its construction and uses scare minerals with significant environment impacts from their mining. 

We need a new transport system, not the same one with electric cars. 

2 Is there scope to increase this target for 2030? What should the new target be? 

– 

3 What specific measures might be required in the commercial transport sector to encourage a change to EVs or other zero carbon alternatives? 

The initial requirement here is to stop the steady degradation of the Irish rail network so that, in addition to increasing passenger numbers, rail freight can play a serious part in reducing the volumes of heavy goods vehicles on Irish roads. While DART+ is a key element of new rail development, a new full rail review needs to take into account the planned increase in the price of carbon, and hence the new economic calculus of transferring goods to rail. 

Optimise logistics efficiency and reduce freight demand: The reintroduction of the ‘guard’s van’ in addition to the existing rolling stock could provide a flexible solution for transporting smaller parcels/ freight goods along with bicycles, e-bikes and scooters. Introduce parcel hotels at train stations and use the rail network to transport the parcels. 

There is tremendous scope to develop the cycle logistics sector in Ireland, and to transfer over to e-cargo bikes much of the commercial / delivery activity currently happening in urban areas by motorised heavy goods vehicles. For more information on cycle-logistics, see the City Changer Cargo Bike website.

Municipal fleet of the City of Gdynia, Poland
Image from https://cyclelogistics.eu/index.php/about

Note that besides carbon emissions, heavy goods vehicles are very much over-represented in road traffic collision statistics and especially those involving people walking and on bikes. 

Zero-emission urban freight zones (ZEZ-Fs): Well-designed ZEZ-Fs encourage more efficient logistics (reducing the number of trips); a better mix of transport modes (e.g. using shared cargo bikes or light electric vehicles for the last mile of delivery); and a transition of the remaining vans and trucks to zero-emission. 

The Irish government should prioritise zero-emission vans in the upcoming revisions of the CO2 standards Regulation and the Alternative Fuel Infrastructure Directive (AFID). 

4 What additional measures should be considered to promote greater use of public transport or active mobility options? 

Regarding the term “promote”, we believe strongly that we need to go far further than “promote” and to be “enabling” public transport. 

Public Transport 

Funding. After allocating 20% of the capital budget for active transport (see below), the remaining 80% of the capital transport budget should be spent with a  minimum ratio of 2:1 in favour of public transport over road building.

Increase investment in rail with a view to expanding the extent of the network, and increasing the frequency and quality of services available.

Expand the Local Link Bus Services 

Fund / construct conveniently located, high quality, secure and attractive cycle parking facilities at every single train and bus station (and stop) in the country, and provide high capacity bike parking facilities at the bigger stations taking inspiration from the state of the art facilities which one can find at train stations such as in the cities of Utrecht in Nl and Munster in Germany. See the link here (Utrecht):

Implement BusConnects in all of the Irish cities, while using the opportunity to develop high quality cycle networks in all the cities – and in towns. Pilot the introduction of traffic free town centres with only public transport and active travel access. 

Ensure all new urban buses are 100% electric. 

Pilot the potential extension and cost of a free public transport scheme in certain areas to reduce private car use, with a view to developing a nationwide scheme. 

Active Travel 

Funding. Continue to allocate 20% of the land transport capital budget for walking and cycling infrastructure. This will start to make up for the almost complete absence of investments in these modes in Ireland in the latter half of the 20th century and into the 21st century. 

Extend the Bike to Work scheme to include students and unemployed. 

Develop, agree, and ensure compliance with, the new updated suite of mandatory and guidance documents for active travel including the National Cycle Manual (NCM), Design Manual for Urban Roads and Streets (DMURS), and Rural Cycleway Design (RCD). 

Lower Speed limits, with 30km/h to be the default speed limit in built-up areas. 

Segregated cycle lanes with proper treatment of junctions. 

Pavement and cycle lane parking to become as unacceptable as indoor smoking or drink driving. Targeted measures at sporting organisations, event organisers whose supporters/fans are amongst the main offenders. They must tell their supporters that it is quite simply unacceptable to block the access of people walking or cycling and that it may be necessary to park some distance away and walk the last section of their route just as they do to Croke Park on all Ireland Final Day. Just as the Tidy towns competition has a biodiversity section, it should have a “liveability” section where entrants who have uncontrolled pavement and cycle lane parking lose marks. The same should apply to local Authority Tidy Estates competitions. 

Traffic light timings must be adjusted to favour people moving by active means. 

Given that there are 3000 primary and post-primary schools, Safe Routes to School need to be prioritised at more than the current plan for 100 per year. 

Active Travel in Rural Areas / Rural Cycling Vision 

1. Create an environment in our cities, towns, villages and rural roads where CYCLISTS ARE EXPECTED AND RESPECTED. This would mean for example that provision of bike parking becomes mandatory at all public buildings, for example post offices, libraries etc and that provision of bike parking at workplaces and commercial premises becomes the norm. 

2. Create and map a network of useful, CONNECTED CYCLE ROUTES throughout Local Authority Areas LAs must be instructed to think Networks, not isolated segments of routes. This priority is allied to the overall integration of Transport and Planning, to the concept of the 10 minute town and the viability of rural villages. 

3. Implement BEST PRACTICE DESIGN to ensure routes are safe and comfortable for cyclists of all ages and abilities. National oversight of design, otherwise what we sometimes get is unusable and will not contribute to reducing emissions. 

4.Prioritise SAFE CYCLE ROUTES TO SCHOOLS and car free zones at school gates. Increase funding available for routes to school – the school run is one of the prime causes of short car trips. The €15 M allocated this year is welcome, but it will cover just over 100 schools. There are 4,000 primary and post primary schools in Ireland. 

5. LOWER SPEED LIMITS to make our roads and streets safer and more accessible for everyone, and to reduce casualties. Lower speed limits in built up and in rural areas will promote active travel which in turn will lead to a reduction in emissions. It is not feasible to expect people to walk and cycle on rural roads with a speed limit of 80 km/h. It is absolutely essential to introduce a default 30 km limit in built up areas and around schools as agreed by our Government at the Stockholm Convention 2020. You can read the Stockholm Declaration here.  

6. Ensure clear and timely ACCESS TO FUNDING, by improving capacity at all levels of local and national government. Active Travel Teams within LAs to expand – we need to ensure they are multi-disciplinary. The programme announced in January is welcome but many counties are only getting an allocation of 2 extra staff which is not enough to form a team. Consideration should be given to combining resources to form larger teams to serve smaller counties.

7. COLLABORATE WITH ALL STAKEHOLDERS – including cycling and community groups – at all stages of planning and design. Adopt and promote the Cycle Route Assessment Checklist tool (or a version of CRAC) as a national tool to be used as part of the design process by both designers/engineers and people participating in the process – create a common language and common understanding of good quality design and provide a simple way for people to meaningfully input. 

8. Provide CYCLE TRAINING for all ages, especially children. Expand Cycle training budget and number of Cycle Right trainers. Currently only one class (usually 5th) can apply but training needs to start earlier to build the cycling habit and reduce cars/emissions on the school run. A whole school approach to cycle training should be adopted. Transport emissions reduction cannot happen if only one child in a family receives training and siblings still have to be driven to the same school. 

Photo Credit – Luciana Prado

General 

Climate proofing of all proposed public projects must be implemented and seen to be observed. 

Economic assessment of transport projects needs to be more broadly assessed and realistic, and values for parameters such as the ‘value of time’ must be regularly updated to reflect the shift in technology and people’s ability to work while in public transport. This assessment must include the use of the WHO HEAT tool (Health & Economic Assessment Tool), to give full weight to health and societal benefits of proposed projects 

Formalise legislation which encourages greater levels of cycling and makes it safer, as for instance exemplified in the TFL report ‘International Cycling Infrastructure Best Practice Study’ – http://content.tfl.gov.uk/international-cycling-infrastructure-best-practice-study.pdf 

5 What specific policies might be required to reduce overall passenger kilometres driven within the private car fleet? 

The lessons from the Covid-19 pandemic in terms of the ability for many employees to work from home or alternative local hubs need to be acknowledged and  the new practices encouraged. Remote working must be supported.

Introduce a scrappage scheme for cars to be replaced by e-bikes or e-cargo bikes. Cf. the scheme introduced into France recently whereby car users are given a €2500 voucher for an e-bike. See this ECF article on the scheme.

Make the centres of cities car free – as is happening in Paris (see here). 

Expand Safe Routes to School 

Make public transport cheaper especially for families. When making travel choices families don’t consider the embedded cost of driving; they consider that a journey between X and Y will cost €20 in fuel or combined bus fares of €30 and make their choice accordingly. 

Space for public transport needs to be prioritised in towns and cities. 

6 Is there scope to effect a change in the composition of the private car fleet to shift the vehicle mix away from higher emitting classes? 

Introduce a ban on SUVs in city centres – as per the example in Paris. They are too wide, too high and too long for city centre streets, in addition to the emissions and negative road safety impact in relation to collisions with pedestrians. 

Increase taxation levels on higher emitting vehicles even further 

7 Is there scope to further increase biofuel blends rates beyond those already planned under the 2019 Climate Action Plan?

– 

8 Are there any specific obstacles in the planning system preventing greater modal shift? 

– 

9 Are there specific further measures that should be undertaken to increase the availability of electric vehicle changing points, whether in public areas or on private property? 

– 

10 What could be done to make the public sector transport fleets more climate friendly? 

Commission and publish a peer reviewed independent study to assess the impact of reducing speed limits on motorway, N-roads and other roads in Ireland. 


11 What changes should be considered in relation to the management of Ireland’s road network (e.g. reducing speed limits, additional road pricing, or restrictions for specific vehicles in urban areas) to promote emissions reductions? 

12 What other opportunities exist to support the decarbonisation of the Transport sector? 

13 What specific measures could be undertaken in transport infrastructure to address existing and future locked-in climate change impacts? 

See this link here from the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications for more information on the call for expert evidence:

https://climateconversations.citizenspace.com/decc/call-for-expert-evidence-cap-2021/

SIXTH UN Global Road Safety Week – Love 30, Streets for Life – 17 to 23 May 2021

Why Ireland Needs 30km/h Urban Speed Limits

What difference does 30km/h make?

At 60km/h one in ten pedestrians survive collisions between car and pedestrians, while at 30km/h nine in ten pedestrians survive – see graphic below.  For the 6th UN Global Road Safety Week , The UN is calling on policymakers to act for low speed streets worldwide, limiting speeds to 30 km/h where people walk, live and play.  This call echoes the 2020 Stockholm Declaration where Ireland was one of the co signatories pledging 30km/h urban speed limits.

We need to make this happen!

A 30km/h speed limit introduces calmer, safer roads and shorter braking distance. It gives the driver a better view of their surroundings and makes it easier for them to see any pedestrians crossing the road, cyclists and other vehicles and allows more time for drivers to react to the unexpected.

For 2021, the theme of the week is ‘Streets for life’ and this has never been more important as people spend more time in their own localities. 30km/h makes our cities, towns and villages safer places to live.  It allows children and those with limited mobility to move more freely and it creates vibrant people-friendly spaces.

Road traffic injuries rank among the top four causes of death for all children after infancy.  Crashes on the roads account for one third of all injury deaths across all age groups – pre-schoolers, older children or teenagers.

There was 6% increase in the number of people who died on Irish roads in 2020 as against 2019, despite a reduction in overall traffic volumes.  A total of 149 people died on Irish roads in 2020 – compared to 140 in 2019. This included 10 people on bikes.  

However, overall the measures taken to reduce road trauma are working: between 2013 and 2019, Ireland saw a 26% reduction in road traffic fatalities, compared to just a 6% reduction across the whole of the EU-27.  We had the two safest years on record for road fatalities in 2018 and 2019, and slowing down will ensure that this overall long-term downward trend in collisions and fatalities will continue. 

Many cities and urban areas worldwide have introduced widespread 30 km/h limits. Several countries are introducing default 30 km/h speed limits in all urban areas including The Netherlands, Spain, and Wales (20 m/h). Some locations have speed limits as low as 10 km/h. Love 30 and Cyclist.ie believe that Ireland, as a signatory of the Stockholm Declaration, must follow this best international practice and legislate for a default 30 km/h limit in all built-up areas.

Ends

For further information, contact:

Mairéad Forsythe: 086-8337577
Caitríona Corr: 083-0238790

https://www.love30.ie/

Public Consultation on Active Travel Projects – Webinar on 26 May 2021

There is suddenly lots of money around for active travel projects and even for local authorities to recruit more expertise in this area. However, the standards of ‘public consultation’ vary widely across local authorities, and participatory design/co-design, widely used in other jurisdictions, is lacking here. This often means that money is squandered on unsuitable projects, or worse, that projects are cancelled or dropped because of public objections.

The focus of this webinar is to:

  • Consider what is effective public consultation for active transport-related projects
  • Give examples of best practice from Ireland, and
  • Explore the barriers and challenges involved.

Damien Ó Tuama (National Cycling Coordinator with Cyclist.ie and An Taisce) and Fergus Galvin (Director of Transport Services, Waterford City & County Council) will briefly outline the key challenges facing their organisations with regard to public consultations.

This will be followed by presentations from Sandy McGroarty from the Cork Transport Mobility Forum explaining how a Transport Mobility Forum can be a best practice model of stakeholder engagement; Jeanette Fitzsimmons from UCC explaining various approaches to public consultation and participatory design, using examples from Ireland and elsewhere; and Giulia Vallone from Cork Co. Co. giving us examples of good practice in achieving community-centered design in Co. Cork.

The webinar will be hosted by Elaine Mullan, School of health Sciences, WIT, and is open to all.

To register:
Email Elaine Mullan – [email protected]

CRAC: Cycle route assessment checklist

Bold Ambitions for Better Quality Cycle Routes

It’s 2021. And the cycle routes in Ireland are not yet good enough.

Why? 

  1. Too often the designs overlook key elements, which help to make routes safe and attractive. 
  2. Ordinary people like you, are not participating in the design process.

Cyclist.ie has a bold ambition to help solve both of these problems. 

How? 

By creating one simple tool that can be used by designers to make sure every aspect of good design is included, and can also be used by people on bikes to meaningfully let those designers know what does or doesn’t work. Check out our CRAC page www.cyclist.ie/crac to find out more and to trial the tool.

A New President and Board at ECF

Cyclist.ie was well represented at the AGM of the European Cyclists’ Federation held today, Friday 23 April 2021. 

It was another successful AGM with the ECF family of groups growing further. 

Cyclist.ie wishes to congratulate the newly elected President of the ECF, Henk Swarttouw (based in Sweden/The Netherlands), on his journey ahead. Henk has been a Vice-President of ECF for the last two years.  

We also want to congratulate the other new board members. They are:

  • Sidsel Birk Hjuler (Denmark)
  • Graham Watson (UK)
  • Judit Toth (Hungary)
  • Francesco Baroncini (Italy)

The term of Cyclist.ie’s Damien Ó Tuama as a board member finished at the AGM, as did those of Raluca Fiser (Romania) and Alessandro Tursi (Italy).

The new board members will join the existing members of Lars Stromgren (Sweden) and Camille Thome (France) on the board.

More news about ECF activities in due course.

#ClimateConversation

The Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications is inviting every member of the public to get involved in Ireland’s Climate Conversation about the journey to net zero emissions by 2050, with a 51% reduction by 2030.

The consultation takes the form of a survey, and covers practical themes that affect our everyday lives, such as travel, shopping including reuse and recycling, food and food waste, home – energy and insulation, and local environment and climate action. 

The survey is open until May 18th  and can be found on the department’s website here.  The survey is user friendly.  You can opt to respond to only themes that interest you or to all of the themes and you can say as much or as little as you like. One especially useful feature is that you can complete one or more sections, save them, and return later.

Cyclist.ie will be responding to the consultation on the travel theme as you would expect.  We will be proposing measures that will make it easier for people to choose to make some of their journeys by active means. We will post our submission here.  We urge everyone to respond to the consultation and to make you voice count! 

For anyone who would like support or more information before making their submission, the Stop Climate Chaos coalition, of which Cyclist.ie is a member is running a series of workshops  on the Tuesday evenings running up to the closing date for submissions. People can register for one or several workshops which will take place as follows:  

  • April 20th – Electricity
  • April 27th – Agriculture
  • 4th May – Transport
  • 6th May – Public Participation in Climate with Clare PPN
  • 11th May – Homes and the Built Environment

Stop Climate Chaos feels that some of the questions are not well phrased and that the overall tone puts too much emphasis on individual responsibility for changing behaviour instead of on governments and big corporations. 

Public Consultation on Connected and Autonomous Mobility – Cyclist.ie Submission

Last month (March 2021), the Department of Transport ran a consultation on connected and autonomous mobility (CAM) in road transport. Cyclist.ie sent in a submission on it. 

In our submission, we argued that the overarching guiding principles to inform the roll-out of CAM in Ireland should be as follows:

  • Impacts on energy use (particularly fossil energy and to include the embodied energy of vehicles themselves)
  • Impacts on emissions (and not only the direct emissions from vehicles but also from the emissions from electrical power generation plants of various types)
  • Efficiency in the use of finite (urban) public space – i.e. number of people carried per lane per hour, as compared to mass transit and cycling.
  • Consistency with creating a liveable and convivial public realm that is not dominated by motorized vehicles
  • Impacts on people wishing to use healthy / active travel modes.
  • Pedestrians, and people with disabilities, followed by cyclists, need to be at the top of the urban mobility pyramid of rights and priorities, where the more powerful vehicle should be recognised as at fault unless they can prove otherwise both morally and legally, as is the case already in other jurisdictions.
  • The expansion of CAM cannot work on the basis of assuming that people walking, scooting or on cycles wear ‘safety devices’ (transponders), and cyclists and pedestrians should not be morally (or legally) obliged to carry devices on their person or bike.
  • The devices carried by motor vehicles can make no assumption about the requirement for a cyclist or pedestrian to be in a mandatory position on the road. In most communities and roads, cycle tracks do not exist, or are not mandatory, and all codes have exemptions for the far too common situation where infrastructure is blocked or unusable. There are many, many reasons why cyclists and pedestrians may have to leave a pavement, cycle path or the edge of the road, and indeed to cross roads, so the next generation of devices must not rely on some form of conformity in behaviour.

What we do not want to see in the future is the same oversized Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs) – but in a ‘connected and/or autonomous’ format – dominating urban streets and accentuating problems related to emissions and the use of finite resources (and not just fossil fuels). We know from UK research reported on by the BBC on 7th April 2021 that three quarters of all SUVs sold in the UK are registered to people living in towns and cities, and it wouldn’t surprise us if similar figures applied in Ireland. 

What we really need is a transformative shift in mobility policy and culture, where smaller (genuinely) zero carbon vehicles and active travel are prioritised – and not the promotion of autonomised versions of already oversized motor cars. We also need to be alert to being overwhelmed and blinded by the hype and unchallenged claims associated with some promotions of autonomous and connected vehicles.

You can read Cyclist.ie’s submission to the Department of Transport here

You can read an article posted by the European Cyclists’ Federation on Automated vehicles, connected transport technologies and cycling here.

A fantastic amenity for the people of Muff

Donegal County Council issue tender for first phase of Muff-Derry greenway

Donegal County Council’s Roads & Transportation Directorate has published the tender for the Muff part of the Derry-Muff greenway. The 2.3km section – of an overall 10km route – will be delivered under the auspices of the cross-border North West Greenway Network. 

Works will include: segregated infrastructure, the widening of existing footpaths on the R238, new and upgraded lighting, landscaping, drainage works and the provision of bicycle parking facilities at Muff Community Park.

Funding has been provided by INTERREG VA, administered by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB), with match-funding from the Department for Infrastructure in Northern Ireland and the Department of Transport in Ireland. The route is part of 46.5kms being developed by Donegal County Council in conjunction with the lead partner, Derry City & Strabane District Council.

Welcoming the announcement, the Communications Officer for the North West Greenway Network, Rónán Gallagher, said: ‘this project has been developed over three years and it is fantastic that this tender has now been issued. With a little bit of luck, construction will commence by summer.’ He continued: ‘our goal is to encourage modal shift while reducing carbon emissions. This will provide a crucial new artery linking Muff to Derry City as well as a fantastic amenity for people living in the village. It is also a tangible example of how Donegal County Council is encouraging active travel and creating a sustainable future for the people living in the county.’

With work on the Lifford-Strabane section nearing completion and the planning application for the Bridgend to Buncrana section of the Buncrana-Derry greenway due to be lodged later this year, Donegal County Council in conjunction with Derry City & Strabane District Council is taking a significant step to improving cross-border green infrastructure that will encourage modal shift and active travel across the North West Region.

Details on the North West Greenway Network – see here.  

NTA Allocates Over €70m In New Funding To Rural Councils For Active Cycling And Walking Infrastructure

The Cyclist.ie Rural Collective, representing cycling advocacy and promotion groups in the regions, welcomes this government funding announcement for walking and cycling infrastructure to nineteen local authorities outside of the cities – as can be read here.  

The allocation of more than €70 m is a good start to a process of providing infrastructure which will enable people living in towns, villages and rural areas to choose an active travel mode for their journey.

The schemes being funded vary from one local authority to another but include a large number of footpath improvement schemes, cycleways, pedestrian / cycle bridges, cycle-parking, pedestrian crossings, and public lighting improvements. We find it interesting that most county allocations reference funding for four specific programmes: 

  • Safe Routes to School
  • Low-Cost Permeability Measures
  • Light Segregation Cycle Schemes and
  • Low Cost Junction Tightening / Pedestrian Crossing Schemes.

It looks therefore as if these measures were suggested by the NTA, who will be overseeing and supporting the entire active travel programme, and we look forward to a consistent approach from county to county.

A high point of the funding announcement is that several counties where Cyclist.ie’s Rural Collective is active have received funding for transport studies / urban mobility plans. These include Carlow, Donegal, Galway, Kerry, Kilkenny, Louth and Wexford. Much to the delight of Jo Sachs-Eldridge, one of the key members of the Cyclist.ie Rural Collective, her native Leitrim has opted to do a County Cycle Network Plan Study! In Kerry, both Tralee and Kilarney are going to get interconnected cycleway networks which again is most welcome. 

It would be churlish not to wholeheartedly welcome this funding. After all, the €72.8m which has been allocated is greater than the entire 2019 funding for the national walking and cycling programme. However, we in Cyclist.ie do have some concerns. These revolve around the standards which will apply to the proposed new cycling infrastructure. In the press release announcing the funding Minister Ryan, Minister of State Naughton and CEO of the National Transport Authority, Anne Graham all used the words “high-quality” to describe the new infrastructure. However, at this point we are unsure whether the Department of Transport and the National Transport Authority share the Cyclist.ie definition of “high -quality”.

Current cycleway standards are to be found in the National Cycle Manual (NCM) and the Transport Infrastructure Rural Cycleway Design (RCD). The NCM is currently being updated and Cyclist.ie is awaiting news on what brief the consultants have been given. We very much hope that it will take account of Cyclist.ie’s A Vision for Cycling in Rural Ireland  and Irish Cycle.com’s CyclingForAll.ie

The first three demands in the Rural Vision are for an environment where cyclists are expected and respected, the creation and mapping of useful connected cycle routes, and implementation of best practice design to ensure routes are safe and comfortable for all ages and abilities. CyclingForAll.ie provides numerous examples from the Netherlands of what this design would look like in practice.   

A very positive aspect of this rural funding announcement is that all counties will be supported by the National Transport Authority. Up to recently the NTA only had responsibility for walking and cycling infrastructure for the local authorities in the five main cities and in counties Kildare, Wicklow and Meath. The authority now has a countrywide remit and will be supporting all local authorities in rolling out Active Travel and the Safe Routes to School Programme. We are happy with this outcome, but to ensure adherence to standards it will be necessary for the NTA to act as an oversight body and to withhold funding for any scheme which is not compatible with the new guidance.

Cyclist.ie are seeking a meeting with the NTA to discuss, among other items, our desire to ensure the highest quality of planned schemes being built with this welcome and much needed funding.   

A Greenway is Born… or Rejuvenated!

Earlier today, 24th March 2021, we saw the formal launch of Ireland’s longest greenway, along the Royal Canal running all of 130km from Maynooth in Co Kildare to the Shannon at Cloondara in County Longford. 

The launch is a momentous occasion and a major step forward in Ireland’s development of greenways and cycle routes to link up towns and villages via active travel routes. Below is the link to the video of the launch featuring, amongst others, Minister Eamon Ryan and Minister of State Malcolm Noonan.

Cyclist.ie warmly welcomes this development. We have engaged with Waterways Ireland and with the local authorities along this route as it has been developed so as to help ensure that the standards for cycling and walking are met as much as possible. 

This 130km section of the Royal Canal greenway crosses four counties – Kildare, Meath, Westmeath and Longford – and also passes through significant towns such as Kilcock, Enfield and Mullingar. It also includes a completed link section into Longford Town, as can be seen from the pictorial map below.

Significantly, it will also link into the previously completed 40km long Old Rail Trail from Mullingar to Athlone, also part of the EuroVelo #2 cross-continental cycle route, in case you get the itch to travel that bit further when restrictions allow! This off-road greenway route will eventually link to both Dublin and Galway, and Cyclist.ie is working with the multiple agencies, Local Authorities and consultants to help to make the full route a reality.

As might be expected, this canal greenway is relatively flat and thus a gentle cycle or walk along its stretches. And there is some great scenery, wildlife and history to be explored and enjoyed along the route.

We cannot wait to explore it in full, once restrictions are lifted – and one of our active members, David Butterly, is hoping to get his bike hire business on the Royal Canal up and running once again. Check him out at Royal Canal Bike Hire in Maynooth if you get the chance to visit the greenway – and encourage your friends to enjoy this wonderful resource!