All posts by damien.otuama

Greyways Under the Microscope

Putting Greyways under the microscope – a view from Wexford 

We have posted previously on this website on the Government’s 2020 Stimulus Package for Active Travel. There are lots of good projects and proposals in there, but some worrying expenditure proposals, particularly on the conversion of hard shoulders on old N routes to cycle routes that are referred to as greyways. The term suggests some sort of formal category of cycle facility; however, these routes unfortunately tend to be little more than white lines painted inside the hard shoulder and are then called cycle tracks! They are a poor use of taxpayers’ money, when funds could be directed to more standard designs which would be safer for all ages and abilities, and encourage non-cyclists to get on their bikes.

Wexford is one of the counties that received funding to build greyways. Phil Skelton, of our local Wexford Cycling Advocacy network group WexBug, has posted a blog on the proposed introduction of a new greyway in Wexford, in which he outlines the mistakes of the past, and queries the wisdom of its expenditure under this Stimulus Funding Package. Check out Phil’s blog here. He makes cogent arguments about the need for proper considered design and for a comprehensive safety audit.

A must read for anyone working on rural cycling!

Greyway near Clogh Village, Wexford

Greyway on R445 (Old N7) between Nenagh and Birdhill

RETHINK IRELAND FUND SUCCESS FOR CYCLIST.IE

Cyclist.ie is delighted to announce that we are one of the successful applicants in the first phase of Rethink Ireland’s Innovate Together Fund. This follows the formal announcement by Rethink Ireland last week  – particularly exciting news to receive during National Bike Week, probably our busiest week of the year!  

A total of 51 projects are being funded in the first phase of Rethink Ireland’s Innovate Together Fund, following applications for grants by 481 projects. The fund is all about supporting innovative responses to the pandemic, and Cyclist.ie sees cycling and active travel as very much part of an appropriate societal response to the situation in which we find ourselves. The Innovate Together Fund is supported by the Department of Rural and Community Development via the Dormant Accounts Fund.

The focus on cycling through the Change Our Streets campaign aligns with a Europe-wide trend of reallocating road space to pedestrians and cyclists, reducing speed limits, and introducing other interventions such as ‘filtered permeability’ schemes – all with the aim of changing the conditions to enable more people to choose to cycle. This trend has been reported widely in the international press – see for example the Guardian’s articles (from May 2020) on How coronavirus will transform transport in Britain’s cities and Covid-19 prompts world’s cities to free public space of cars – and in the domestic media such as the Irish Times’ editorial of 27 July 2020 which argued that the “pandemic has strengthened the case for getting more commuters cycling and walking” – see the Irish Times view on cycling infrastructure: a tipping point. As recently as today, the 2nd of October 2020, the BBC reported on ‘Coronavirus: How pandemic sparked European cycling revolution’. All of these developments are now being systematically tracked by the European Cyclists’ Federation (ECF), of which Cyclist.ie is the member for Ireland, with its Covid Measures Tracker.  

The project builds on some fine campaigning work in which Galway Cycling Campaign, the Irish Pedestrian Network and Cyclist.ie focused on speeding and the need for  safe, usable space  across the country, for people to shop, exercise and commute by active travel means during the crisis. This initiative was supported by The Irish Heart Foundation, the Irish Cancer Society and the Association for Health Promotion Ireland – see the Irish Heart Foundation joins call for safer streets. The project also builds on the work of Better Ennis with, for example, their open letter to  the local Council requesting healthier streets during the pandemic. Huge credit is due to campaigners across the country advancing this advocacy work as it has raised the profile of the issues and of the need for Local Authorities (LAs) to engage more fully on public health matters.  

The essence of this Rethink Ireland funded project is around strengthening the capacity of Cyclist.ie as an effective non-governmental organisation (NGO) to create further change. This means:

–          Building up our knowledge base at local, national and international levels on what is happening to enable cycling during the pandemic (e.g. by drawing on the ECF Covid Tracker tool referred to above)

–          Engaging constructively with LAs countrywide (e.g. through the Transportation or Infrastructure Strategic Policy Committees (SPCs) on which some local Cyclist.ie member groups are represented – and through further direct contacts with officials)

–          Building wider support and alliances for Cyclist.ie’s advocacy work – with businesses, health bodies and other NGOs. On this, Cyclist.ie draws great inspiration from Dropbox’s support for cycling advocacy through its endorsement of the work of Dublin Cycling Campaign (a member group of Cyclist.ie) – see Campaigning Moves up a Gear with the Support of Dropbox 

–          Engaging with the new Minister for Transport on cycling.

In short, the project is all about building on what Cyclist.ie has been working on since its foundation in 2008, but with the heightened urgency that Covid has prompted. As set out in our funding application in May, the success with Rethink Ireland’s Innovate Together Fund enables Cyclist.ie’s National Cycling Coordinator, Dr. Damien Ó Tuama, to transition from a part-time role towards a full-time position in cycling advocacy. This, in turn, will help to nurture the further growth of effective cycle campaigning countrywide – see the map showing the growing array of cycling advocacy bodies all around Ireland (currently being updated to include new members). Ultimately, this project will support the emergence of strong cycling cultures at local community levels nationwide during and beyond the pandemic.  

Once again, Cyclist.ie wishes to sincerely thank Rethink Ireland and the funders of the Innovate Together Fund. We also wish to acknowledge the Cyclist.ie Executive Committee for their input on the funding proposal back in May 2020. We see this funding success as a further stepping stone in strengthening cycling advocacy in Ireland.

Finally, we wish to note here that Cyclist.ie continues to appreciate its strategic partnerships with An Taisce and with Cycling Ireland. These partnerships help to cement cycling advocacy within broader movements around creating a more sustainable system and a healthier population in Ireland.  

Press release from Cyclist.ie – A consultancy report on cycle lanes released this week may not be what is needed to boost commuting cyclists numbers for 2020

PRESS RELEASE From Cyclist.ie – Ireland’s National Cycling Lobby Group

Cyclists say consultants’ cycle-lane claims need careful interpretation and action by roads authorities if numbers of cyclists are to be massively increased in line with government target of 10% of commuting trips made on bikes by 2020

The joint AECOM and TCD (Civil, Structural & Environmental Engineering) consultants’ report for Dublin City published this week attempts to show, using a cycling infrastructure preference survey methodology, what measures and policies are required in order to persuade many thousands more commuters to switch from car to bike use for their daily commutes. The context for this survey was the setting by the previous government of an ambitious target in its National Cycling Promotion Policy Framework (NCPF) of 10% of commuting trips nationally to be made by bike by 2020. We are way off that target already in 2011. Continue reading Press release from Cyclist.ie – A consultancy report on cycle lanes released this week may not be what is needed to boost commuting cyclists numbers for 2020

Survey of General Election 2011 Candidates

With the general election looming we felt the need to make ourselves known to the prospective TDs and make cycling visible in the election campaign. Jonivar created a survey which can be found along with the summary at http://cyclin.gg/survey . The survey deals with; personal bicycle use, national cycling policy, benefits of cycling, encouraging cycling among children, driver training, bike schemes and the law. Continue reading Survey of General Election 2011 Candidates