All posts by Siobhan McNamara Celebrates Vital Athlone Link Bridge Opening

An aerial view of the new Shannon Cycle & Pedestrian Bridge vice chair Dave Tobin, and Colm Ryder, infrastructure coordinator, were invited by Westmeath County Council to attend the formal opening of the €15 million Euro Cycling/Pedestrian Bridge across the River Shannon on Tuesday 8th August last. has supported this project enthusiastically and we have made a number of submissions on the general planning of the overall EuroVelo route from Dublin to Galway of which this bridge is a vital cog.  The bridge was formally inaugurated by Minister Jack Chambers, with a variety of officials and local politicians in attendance.  

Minister Jack Chambers formally inaugurates the Shannon EuroVelo link bridge

This vital link bridge placed roughly halfway between the main railway and road bridges spanning the Shannon in Athlone, is a major statement in relation to the development of cycling and walking links across the country, and a further impetus to the development of the full EuroVelo cycle route from Dublin to Galway.  It was a complex and challenging project in a confined urban and water space, and the construction problems were exacerbated by the at times exceptionally high water levels of the River Shannon.  We commend the elegant modern architectural and engineering design that this project embodies, as a major statement of our government’s commitment to active travel.  Check out these short videos

The bridge directly links the east side of Athlone in Co Westmeath, with the west side in Co Roscommon, and also links the modern Radisson Hotel and the historic Athlone Cathedral and Castle.  Of course, it also links the EuroVelo route from Dublin to Athlone, with the proposed route from Athlone to Galway, and is strategically placed in an area that is often regarded as the centre of Ireland!  A small plaque in the centre of the new bridge celebrates this location.  See photo below.

Plaque at centre of the Shannon Link Bridge

The project has been managed overall by the Westmeath Council Projects Office, under the Project Coordinator for the Galway to Athlone Cycleway, Michael Kelly.  Michael has been involved in the development of the Old Rail Trail from Mullingar to Athlone, and also in the work on the EuroVelo route finalisation between Athlone & Galway, which continues. looks forward to the continuing development of this  important cross Ireland, and cross Europe Route, as part of the EuroVelo cycle route complex 

Michael Kelly, overall EuroVelo 2 project manager/coordinator

We would urge members and all cycling advocates to visit this flagship project, which makes a big statement about Ireland’s commitment to active travel.  Tell your friends about it, but most of all go check it out for yourself.  And no need to even bring your own bike, as you can now avail of Moby Electric Bike Hire around Athlone, and of course Athlone also has very good public transport connections.


Get your favourite Climate and Environment charity in the running for £5,000 today!

17th – 21st July
In recognition of all the charities who work tirelessly to support the Climate and Environment, Benefact Group are giving 10 charities £5,000 each in this limited-time special draw.
All you need to do is nominate a charity whose core charitable purpose is to protect and conserve the natural environment and/or combat climate factors such as preventing global temperature increase.
Click here to nominate us. Search for ‘Dublin Cycling Campaign CLG’

Bike It Like Brigid

Over the coming days we will celebrate our first Imbolc/St Brigid’s Day public holiday, the first Irish public holiday named after a woman, and a range of activities have been organised countrywide to acknowledge the critical role that women play and have played in Irish history, culture and society.

Neither the goddess Brigit nor St Brigid had a bicycle, of course, but we like to think that if either of them were around today they would make use of this ‘freedom machine‘ to help them get stuff done. 

So for this Imbolc/St Brigit’s Day, we are going to celebrate how 21st-century Irish women use bikes or trikes to help them live fulfilling lives. If you are a woman who cycles, we invite you to share a photo on social media with the hashtag #BikeItLikeBrigid celebrating how your bike or trike helps you get stuff done, whether it be commuting, volunteering, transporting children, grocery shopping, or meeting friends and family. 

The Tailors’ Hall
Back Lane
Dublin, D08 X2A3
RCN 20102029
Date – 14 Oct 2022

1 – Introduction, the Irish Cycling Advocacy Network (ICAN), is the federation of cycling advocacy groups, greenway groups and bike festivals on the island of Ireland. We are the Irish member of the European Cyclists’ Federation.  Our vision is for an Ireland with a cycle friendly culture, where everyone has a real choice to cycle and is encouraged to experience the joy, convenience, health and environmental benefits of cycling. welcomes the opportunity to respond to the public consultation on NR2040. However, we are very disappointed in the limited options for submission of comments in this form – and with the word limit here which limits the ability to respond to the consultation. 

We welcome the broad “NIFTI approach” where the intervention hierarchy is (in this order):

Maintain > Optimise > Improve > New
Active Travel > Public Transport > Private Vehicles.

2 – Main Points

What the draft does not set out clearly enough is how exactly, with figures underpinning the strategy, NR2040 and investment priorities ensuing from it will align with the overarching aim of the Government’s Climate Action Plan, which sets a 51% reduction in overall greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and sets Ireland on a path to reach net-zero emissions by no later than 2050. The section on Decarbonisation (5.1), referencing the EPA Ireland’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions Projections, 2021-2040 (June 2022), states the following:

“Emissions from the sector are estimated to reduce to 39% below 2018 levels by 2030 if additional measures in plans and policies are implemented, including significant EV share by 2030 and measures to support more sustainable transport.”

However, in the 2022 OECD report entitled Redesigning Ireland’s Transport for Net Zero: Towards Systems that Work for People and the Planet, (Paris,, two of its key findings are as follows (pages 8 to 9):

“The Irish transport system fosters growing car use and emissions by design, and is thus unfit to enable the country to meet its greenhouse gas reduction goals while improving well-being. Growing car use in Ireland is largely determined by car-dependent transport and urban systems, organised around increased mobility and characterised by three unsustainable dynamics: induced car demand, urban sprawl, and the sustainable modes low-attractiveness trap.”


“Aiming at decarbonising the system via private vehicle improvements is unlikely to lead to substantially different patterns of behaviour, rapid emissions reductions, and large well-being improvements. Car-dependent systems make rapid electrification slow and difficult, by locking-in large and growing vehicle fleets. Even with improved (and fully-electric) vehicles, they also fail to reduce lifecycle emissions, address accessibility gaps and other negative impacts (e.g. road fatalities).”

The same report recommends the following (page 9):

  • Redefine the goal of the transport system as sustainable accessibility.
  • Prioritise the up-scale of policies with high potential to transform the car-dependent system.
  • Redefine the electrification strategy to support the transition towards a sustainable transport system.
  • Embrace a systemic approach to policy decision-making across government departments.

It is our view that the current NR2040 strategy needs to engage with and respond to these recommendations.

In short, the final / adopted version of the NR2040 strategy needs to respond fully to the newly published OECD analysis.

It also needs to set out how the implementation of the strategy will contribute, in concrete terms, to the steady decarbonisation of the Irish transport sector over the years and decades. This needs to be set out in quantitative terms.




3 – Conclusion

NR2040 needs to articulate much more clearly how the strategy objectives and investments will lead to a reduction in carbon emissions – and not simply rely to a very large extent on assumptions that the electrification of the car fleet will solve most of the problems in this domain.

Please acknowledge receipt of this submission. Thank you.
[email protected]

Hospitals Active Travel Award

Healthcare and cycling groups call for more focus from hospitals on active travel.

The Sustainability Committee of the College of Anaesthesiologists of Ireland, and Irish Doctors for the Environment have come together to recognise the best Irish public hospital for their commitment to active travel.

A complex transport network is needed to move goods, staff and patients in healthcare. There is a significant carbon footprint associated with this. Personal travel accounts for approximately 10% of the carbon footprint in some healthcare settings (1).  By encouraging active transport, we are not only reducing emissions but also improving the cardiorespiratory health of the communities in which we work.

Air pollution contributes to 1500 premature deaths in Ireland every year and road traffic is a major contributor to these pollutants (3,4). Considering the HSE employs approximately 100,000 people (2), enabling staff to cycle, walk or use public transport to reach these facilities could potentially remove thousands of cars from the roads.

The inaugural winner of the award is St James’s Hospital in Dublin for their excellent commitment to active travel promotion at their Dublin campus.

Pictured are Aine Varley from Irish Doctors for the Environment, Mairéad Forsythe from, Sophia Angelov from College of Anaesthesiologists of Ireland and Mary Sinnott from presenting the winner of the Hospitals Active Travel Award to Barry McKenna, Sustainability Manager at St James’s Hospital for the hospitals excellent commitment to active travel promotion at their Dublin campus. Picture Conor McCabe Photography.

Barry McKenna, Sustainability Manager at St James’s Hospital says “As a leading healthcare institution we recognise the importance and benefits of active travel.  To support our cyclists and encourage others to take up cycling we’ve trebled bike parking in the hospital, provided showers, locker and drying room facilities, offered a free monthly “Cycleclinic” and bike maintenance workshops, promoted the Bike to Work Scheme, provided a fleet of ebikes for staff, and hosted an annual charity cycle. We aspire to be a leading cycle friendly campus by continuing to actively promote and facilitate cycling as a means of commuting.”     

Mary Sinnott of adds “In the hospital environment, those who participate in active travel are best equipped to encourage active lives which can significantly improve physical and mental health. Recognizing staff at St James’s hospital with the Active Transport award shows how hospitals can promote healthy lifestyles amongst their workers and visitors.”

Dr Sophia Angelov of the College of Anaesthesiologists of Ireland, who carried out the initial hospital transport study, says “Hospitals should be the centre of sustainability – starting by encouraging and facilitating staff to travel to work actively. What we aim to award is a clear commitment by a hospital to improve active transport facilities at, within, and enroute to the site (by lobbying road authorities). We initially collected quantitative data to inform us how well networked our hospitals are. Then we sought to see how hospitals encourage staff to utilise healthier forms of travel (bicycle user groups, cycling skills training etc). Future work on this topic aims to expand the research and collect data on the facilities available for patients, visitors, and students to reach hospitals in a healthy way.”

Dr Colm Byrne from Irish Doctors for the Environment says “The climate crisis is a health crisis and health care workers need to show leadership in tackling it. Active travel or taking public transport is an important step in climate action. And there are added benefits; walking and cycling are great for our health, with some studies demonstrating a 40% reduction in mortality amongst cycling commuters. Therefore, we are delighted to announce this award which aims to highlight excellence in sustainable transport at Irish Hospitals.”

Prof Donal O’Shea, consultant endocrinologist specialising in obesity and honorary president of says “It is great to see Irish hospitals showing leadership in promoting active transport. We know it is the activity that you build into your day to day living that is the most important for your overall health. The health sector needs to be blazing the trail in demonstrating that healthy modes of transport are achievable, enjoyable and sustainable.” 


Picture Conor McCabe Photography
Picture Conor McCabe Photography
PIcture Conor McCabe Photography
Picture Conor McCabe Photography

Bikes for Refugees

We are aware of a couple of organisations in Ireland that are accepting donations of used cycles to pass on to recently-arrived refugees.

The Bike Hub social enterprise in Dún Laoghaire want to let refugees know about the availability of donated bikes. They ask donors to send photos to [email protected] so they can estimate the work needed and suitability for people on the waiting list, which also includes low income families and customers of Focus Ireland and the Irish Refugee Council. The Bike Hub have donated an estimated 130 bikes since last July.

Another organisation doing this is River Cycles on Ushers Island in Dublin city centre. See full story here.

If you know of any other businesses or organisations who are accepting bikes to pass on to refugees, please let us know and we will add the information to this article.

Rural Ireland CAN cycle!

“Rural Ireland CAN cycle!!” Rural Collective tells Councillors.

Major campaign calls for support for cycling in Rural Ireland 

A national campaign to encourage local councillors to endorse the ‘Vision for Cycling in Rural Ireland’ began this week. The campaign is based on the “Vision” manifesto, launched in September 2020 by Minister for State, Malcolm Noonan. Coordinated by the national cycling advocacy network,, an information leaflet has been dispatched to every rural local councillor highlighting the need to prioritise the 8 Asks of the Vision.

Joan Swift of Sligo Cycling Campaign said: ‘We are launching this leaflet to build on the positive conversations that are happening as a result of our ‘Vision’. Our initial launch was well received by local and national government and the public. We then brought our message to all Chief Executives and Directors of Services responsible for road infrastructure, and now we want to take that campaign a stage further and reach out to the men and women who are our elected representatives in our rural local authorities – the people who can really make this change happen.’

She continued: ‘Active travel is receiving unprecedented funding and staffing and if the funding is spent effectively it can transform peoples’ experience of rural mobility. The aim must be to ensure that in rural as well as in urban Ireland, cycling for all ages and abilities can become a reality. The 8 Asks, described in our ‘Vision’ are a pathway to achieving this.’

Jo Sachs-Eldridge of Leitrim Cycling Festival, who led the creation of the vision, explains: “We know our councillors are concerned about the same things that matter to us – road safety, rural transport options, energy use, physical and mental health. What we are proposing will impact positively on all of those and more. Our ‘Vision’ recognises the need to move to a more strategic approach to rural cycle planning and design. It also recognises the need to change the social as well as the physical environment on our roads – so that our public spaces are safer for everyone. Rural Ireland is currently very car dependent and the percentage of people who cycle is low but there is huge potential to change this. It wasn’t that many years ago that cycling was a normal way to get around. Let’s all help rural Ireland cycle once again!.’

Anluan Dunne of Kerry Cycling Campaign also stressed the importance of community and stakeholder engagement: “Local authorities and councillors should see us as partners and allies as they consider plans for cycle routes. Our expertise and hands-on experience of cycling in rural communities will be invaluable in considering what makes a safe route for cyclists of all ages and abilities.”