All posts by Damien O'Tuama

North West Greenway Network – survey

Survey published regarding Buncrana greenway in Donegal – win a commuter bike worth €500

In Donegal, as part of the Council’s work for the Environmental Impact Assessment Report (required as part of the planning process), the local Council has published a survey soliciting feedback from the general public regarding their cycling and walking preferences, particularly if a greenway linked Derry and Buncrana.

There is a section on the requirements of tourists, so feedback from outside the area is also sought.

The survey can be found here:
https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/NWGreenway.

The deadline for completing the survey is Tuesday 14 July 2020.

From:
Ronan Gallagher
Communications Officer
North West Greenway Network
Roads & Transportation
Donegal County Council
www.nwgreenway.com

Cyclist.ie at ecf AGM 2020

Cyclist.ie was delighted to be part of the AGM of the European Cyclists’ Federation on Thursday last 25 June 2020. Cyclist.ie is the member for Ireland of ECF. 

Irish cycling campaigners have been engaged with the European Cyclists’ Federation (ECF) for over 20 years, while ECF itself goes back to 1983 when some of the larger national associations came together to form a federation of cycling bodies. The aim was to pool advocacy expertise and to affect change at a European level and especially through the European institutions. 

Some of the earliest ECF campaigns focused on the development of long-distance (EuroVelo) cycling routes and on the carriage of bikes on trains, both of which are still current issues – see EuroVelo and TEN-T network: a tandem to fight for and More than half of all major train connections in Europe are not suitable for cyclists

For the last 10 years, Cyclist.ie has been increasingly plugged into the ECF, and from 2013 to 2016 Cyclist.ie was part of the ECF’s Leadership Training Programme for ECF member organisations ‘punching above their weight’ in changing mobility policy at a domestic level – see Cycling and Bonding in Sofia with our Continental Colleagues

One of the pleasures of taking part in the AGM – albeit an online version over Zoom this year – is to connect with campaigners from ECF’s member organisations (74 in 47 countries representing 210,000 individual members). ECF now has new leadership in the form of two co-CEOs, Jill Warren and Morten Kabel (see Staff), and an eight-member board spanning the four corners of Europe. The current ECF President is Christophe Najdovski, Deputy Mayor of Paris for Transportation, Mobility, Roadway and Public Space, while Damien Ó Tuama from Cyclist.ie is a board member since 2016. All in all, there is a strong team working on behalf of cyclists’ interests at an EU level and supporting member organisations at a national level. 

This year’s AGM approved the 2019 ECF Annual Report which includes a section on the hugely successful 2019 Velo-city International Conference which took place in Dublin – see ECF_Annual_Report_2019.pdf. Two new member organisations joined ECF – the Hungarian Cycling Tourism Association (as a full member) and Funbici from Spain (as an associate member). The membership also approved a new 2030 strategy for ECF which will be developed into a public document over the coming period. 

The year ahead is looking particularly intriguing with ECF advancing work on multiple fronts including collecting detailed information about the measures taken by local and national authorities for the recovery after COVID-19 quarantine (see European COVID-19 Cycling Measures Tracker Released Today), and advocating for a significant slice of the COVID-19 Recovery Package to be spent on cycling (as per the graphic immediately below). A related focus is around the The European Green Deal – A huge opportunity for cycling

In summary, Cyclist.ie’s membership of ECF is valuable to us in being part of a broader European movement to create a low carbon mobility system and more liveable communities, and learning from our colleagues. 

Please Contact us in Cyclist.ie if you would like to be kept abreast of what is happening at the European level in cycling advocacy. 

Cyclist.ie Wishes the New Minister for Transport the very best

Cyclist.ie wishes Eamon Ryan TD, the new Minister for Climate Action, Communication Networks and Transport, the very best in his new role. 

Minister Ryan’s appointment comes on the back of the inclusion of some very progressive sustainable transport commitments in the agreed Programme for Government (PfG), especially in regard to cycling and walking. On funding, the new government has committed to: 

… an allocation of 10% of the total transport capital budget for cycling projects and an allocation of 10% of the total capital budget for pedestrian infrastructure. The Government’s commitment to cycling and pedestrian projects will be set at 20% of the 2020 capital budget (€360 million) per year for the lifetime of the Government. (p13)

This is potentially game-changing when one considers that the spend on cycling in 2018 was just €12.64 million (or less than 2% of the transport budget) – see Cyclist.ie Pre-Budget Submission 2020. It opens up the feasibility of funding high quality cycling infrastructure in all of our cities and towns, and providing greenway infrastructure connecting into the heart of our built-up areas, and schools, sports grounds, shops and other destinations. 

The new emphasis on cycling and walking in the PfG comes at a time when the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (DTTAS) – as it was called up until a few days ago – is preparing a new Sustainable Mobility Policy (SMP). Cyclist.ie responded to the public consultation on the SMP early in 2020 – see Submissions on New Sustainable Mobility Policy – and we are awaiting the Department’s analysis of the submissions received. It is timely for a new Minister with a low carbon vision of mobility to take office when a new plan is being drafted. 

The other point to highlight is the need for the new Minister to create the structures to enable several government departments, a handful of state agencies, and all 31 local authorities (LAs) to be aligned in their policies around walking and cycling promotion. One of the failings in the implementation of the ambitious 2009 National Cycle Policy Framework (NCPF) was the inaction on ensuring good coordination and cooperation between all bodies.

It is essential that Minister Ryan makes sure there is strong alignment between the key departments of Health (Minister Stephen Donnelly), Housing, Local Government and Heritage (Minister Darragh O’Brien), Education (Minister Norma Foley), Social Protection, Community and Rural Development and the Islands (Minister Heather Humphreys), and Children, Disability, Equality and Integration (Minister Roderic O’Gorman) so that a new culture of active travel can emerge, and become part of everyday life in Ireland. Additionally, local authorities are crucial actors because they will be responsible for so much of the change, but their expertise on cycling development varies from strong to weak.

The changes are already underway with COVID-19 prompting local authorities to reallocate space for people on foot and bikes – see for example Dublin City Covid Mobility Programme. This process is being facilitated by funding from the National Transport Authority and by an update to DMURS (the Design Manual for Urban Roads and Streets) entitled Interim Advice Note COVID-19 Pandemic Response

The opportunity to be seized by the Minister now is to harness the public appetite for change and lead the way in transforming our cities and towns into the healthy, convivial and economically vibrant places they need to be. 

We wish the Minister the very best of luck. 

navan cycling initiative – a brand new campaign group!

Navan Cycling Initiative is a brand new cycle campaigning group that came into being just in the last few weeks. Dr. Damien Ó Tuama, National Cycling Coordinator with Cyclist.ie, caught up with the group’s founder, Kevin Corrigan, to pick his brain about the cycling issues in Navan and the new group’s aims.

So, Kevin, tell us why you have founded a new campaigning group in Navan – and how did you come to hear about Cyclist.ie?

Good afternoon Damien. Well, having always cycled around my hometown, wherever that was, I was very disappointed when I moved to Navan two years ago. There is scant cycling infrastructure in the town, and what is there, is disjointed and in places dangerous. Up to now, I had sent occasional exasperated emails to the local authority but having seen the appetite that people have in Navan for cycling since the Covid-19 restrictions, I felt a more structured and sustained approach was needed to ensure our town’s love for the bicycle endured.

It was during this period that I discovered Cyclist.ie while listening to a webinar for a documentary called Motherload about the cargo bike movement [broadcast as part of the recent 2020 Clonakilty Bicycle Festival]. Your organisation has been extremely helpful to date, offering amazing guidance and support which is much appreciated.

Have you cycled in other countries or cities which have inspired you?   

I often joke that I cycled in Bangkok for three years and felt safer on the roads there than I do in Navan! On my way to work, I would cross junctions with literally hundreds of motorbikes stopped at the red lights. Turn green and it was mayhem, or so I initially thought. However, it was organised chaos. Cyclists, motorcyclists and motorists moved in harmony and were respectful of each other, unlike my experience to date in Navan. Of course, most drivers respect the shared spaces that are sadly busy roads in Navan, but between a combination of a drastic lack of infrastructure, and an impatience from some very time pressed locals, cycling in the town is by and large not a safe, convenient or fun experience so far.

Aside from jostling with motorbikes and Tuk Tuks in Bangkok, I was a utility cyclist in Dublin, Cardiff, Lausanne, Portland as well as having cycle-toured in Thailand, Tasmania, Germany, Switzerland and Ireland. I travelled on everything from world class cycling segregated bike corridors to dirt paths, from traffic-choked multi-lane roads to deserted country lanes. All these experiences have brought me to firmly believe in the bicycle as an extremely fulfilling way to get around, create stories and adventure-filled memories all the while igniting that child-like sense of freedom

Kevin and his little girl Iris out and about by bike in Navan!

What are the main issues people wishing to cycle in and around Navan might encounter or experience?

As mentioned above, there is a serious lack of continuity in Navan’s cycle infrastructure. Areas that have been recently developed or roads that were newly built or upgraded, have for the most part cycle lanes, some segregated. The problem is that when you leave these islands of safety and comfort, you are on your own, often arriving at busy junctions with no cycling provision whatsoever, and the need to join a lane with heavy flowing traffic and very often no hard shoulder. Even when there is a hard shoulder, these are often full of debris and tree cuttings, so punctures are not uncommon.

Cycling on footpaths is commonplace and understandable, given the choice cyclists are faced with. This inevitably leads to unsafe footpaths and negatively impacts cyclists’ reputations. Like a lot of regional towns in Ireland, Navan’s transport infrastructure has been devoted to the private car for decades.  There are glimmers of hope in some of the development plans and a huge sense of optimism for the future given this government’s commitment to the development of cycling and pedestrian infrastructure. 

Are there particular ideas or proposals you have to make Navan much more cycle friendly, both for utility trips and recreational / leisure cycling (and with children) and perhaps linking with other towns in County Meath? 

The vast majority of Navan residents (26,000 estimated) live within 10 minute cycle from the town centre. There are over 7,000 school students within the town boundaries. While some travel from outside the town, most do not, and numbers cycling are extremely low.

We are calling for segregated lanes on all major approach roads to the town, as well as safer, cycling-adapted junctions, so as to facilitate the movement of people for both utility and recreational cycling. While waiting for these capital projects, we would like to see interim measures, such as wand-protected bike lanes and the temporary redesign of major junctions to include road markings and signage. Bike parking needs to be extended to all major retail outlets, public buildings, key bus stops and schools.

Meath County Council states in its Navan 2030 plan that “it is essential that a more sustainable model is applied to movement within the town, therefore a focus on the local bus service, walking and cycling networks will be a key grounding objective of this plan” We would encourage them to deliver this sustainable model for the people of Navan.

In terms of linking to nearby towns, there are several greenway projects planned, both proposed and potential, which could eventually see Navan at the centre of a network linking Trim, Kells, Dunshaughlin, Slane, Drogheda and Kingscourt. These would have to be supported by the in-town measures above to enable locals and visitors to move safely to and from these amenities. 

Kevin, his wife Miriam and daughter Iris out on further biking adventures in Navan!

And what about linking cycling and public transport in Navan, perhaps aimed at those commuting from the town? Is this currently catered for? And how is the cycle parking around the town? 

Navan has some bike parking, although there is a demand for more. Sadly in a recent upgrade of a busy street and ongoing upgrades, there is no bike parking included so the lack of commitment is failing cyclists in that respect.

In terms of commuting from the town, Navan has a huge population of commuters to Dublin and the greater Dublin area. While there is a frequent bus service, it is currently not fit for purpose as journey times are extremely slow relative to the distance, and most people choose to drive or park-and-ride at the M3 Parkway near Dunboyne. There is very little bike parking at key bus stops and if it is there, it would not be considered secure enough for bikes to be left all day. With improved infrastructure elsewhere which would encourage more people to take to their bikes, secured bike parking could help alleviate traffic around key bus stops. It would be great to see a provision on buses for bicycles, I remember in Switzerland and Germany it was common to put your bike on the front of regional buses.

Ultimately though, the best way to tackle Navan and Meath’s commuting chaos will be with the reinstatement of the rail line that has been in the shadows for years. With no end in sight to the development of housing in Navan, people in the town were disappointed to see this key piece of infrastructure omitted from the recent Programme for Government.

Do you have other thoughts you want to share with us about creating cycle friendly towns and routes? 

I would really like to see this current government’s commitment to their stated annual spend of €360 million on cycling and pedestrian infrastructure. In a country that has grappled with and met resistance to the implementation of a fit-for-purpose network, this seems like it could be the huge propulsion forward, if properly managed. Add to the fact that the actual cost to us as a society is greatly offset by the benefits of cycling and walking, this could be a game-changer.

Ultimately, the appetite for change and the will to bring it about comes from the people. This hunger is palpable in Ireland right now; the promise of improved infrastructure was the starter, but I think we’re ready for the main course now. 

Cyclist.ie wishes Kevin the very best in growing the new local cycle campaigning group and making waves in Navan!

For more information, check out Navan Cycling Initiative – Home.

If you are wondering how to start up a new cycle campaign group in your town or area, please Contact the National Cycling Coordinator and we will be happy to exchange ideas.

Electric-bike student survey

Áine Quill, an MSc level digital marketing student, is currently working with an electric bike start-up in Dublin for her dissertation / company project. She has contacted us looking for us to disseminate her survey on e-bikes and we are very happy to do so.  

Her project aims to:
1. Gain a greater understanding of knowledge, conceptions and attitudes towards e-bikes in Ireland, and
2. Gauge the potential for success of e-bike corporate leasing among Irish workforce.

She would appreciate it greatly if you could complete the survey and spread the word to others who might also be interested.

The survey can be found here: https://tcdbusiness.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_cVeFWUv88cf4bCR

The deadline for completing it is Wednesday 1st July 2020.

Thank you!



Cyclist.ie Welcomes the Initial Figures on Cycling Investment Emerging from the Government Formation Talks

Cyclist.ie, the Irish Cycling Advocacy Network, has been calling for a revolution in the funding of cycling and walking for many years. We are seeking a 10% allocation for cycling from our government’s transport budgets.

We are delighted to see that the initial figures emerging from the government formation talks appear to have recognised this urgent need to invest in ‘active travel’ (walking and cycling) by allocating €360 million per annum towards cycling and walking schemes [1]. Cyclist.ie welcomes this commitment.

Cyclist.ie has consistently highlighted the multiple benefits of investing in cycling – across economic, societal and environmental headings. On the public health side, regular cycling for everyday journeys builds exercise into our busy lives and it can be easier to maintain compared to recreational physical activity. Economically, each kilometre driven by a car incurs an external cost of €0.11, whereas cycling and walking bring benefits of €0.18 and €0.37 per kilometre, respectively (see New study reveals the social benefits of cycling and walking in the EU). On the emissions reduction front and responding to the Paris Climate Agreement, cycling and walking are an essential part of the solution in decarbonising our mobility system and hence are a critical part of the overall transport mix. This has been recognised in many progressive countries in North West Europe since the mid 1970s. 

It is estimated that spending on cycling currently amounts to less than 2% of transport capital spending, as shown in Cyclist.ie’s 2020 Budget submission. Meanwhile the Third Report and Recommendations of the Citizens’ Assembly, the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action [https://data.oireachtas.ie/ie/oireachtas/committee/dail/32/joint_committee_on_climate_action/reports/2019/2019-03-28_report-climate-change-a-cross-party-consensus-for-action_en.pdf] and the 2019 Climate Action Plan all endorsed the spending of 10% of the transport budget on cycling.

Our expectations are that this funding will be spent on high quality cycling infrastructure in our towns and cities so that we can grow cycling to levels common in many continental countries. We also urgently need to redress the gender balance in cycling (currently only 27% of all persons commuting are female, as per Census 2016 data). As Dr. Damien Ó Tuama, National Cycling Coordinator with Cyclist.ie summed it up, “we need to renormalise cycling to the shops, to school, to work and for other daily activities”. 

Cyclist.ie looks forward to examining the full published Programme for Government and a more detailed media release will follow.

Contacts

Martina Callanan, Spokesperson, Cyclist.ie and Galway Cycling Campaign – 086 3123713

Gerry Dornan, Vice-Chair, Cyclist.ie – 0868252934

Dr. Damien Ó Tuama, National Cycling Coordinator, Cyclist.ie and An Taisce – 0872840799


[1} https://www.irishtimes.com/news/ireland/irish-news/new-government-document-sees-changes-in-environmental-transport-policies-1.4278782?localLinksEnabled=false

Photo by Dr. Paul Corcoran, Dublin Cycling Campaign