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Cyclist.ie Taking Part in Erasmus+ Project – Volunteers Sought

Cyclist.ie has been successful with an Erasmus+ funding application to the European Commission, where we are one of seven partners collaborating on a brand new and exciting three year project. The name of it is Generations Pedaling for Inclusion and Climate Action or, in its abbreviated form, GenCy4In&ClimA

For those less familiar with it, Erasmus+ is the EU’s programme to support education, training, youth and sport in Europe. We are delighted with this news as it will enable us to deepen our connections with organisations doing good cycling / environmental advocacy work in several European countries, and to help nurture a new generation of cycling campaigners in Ireland. 

This story on our website summarises what the project is about, while this presentation (prepared by the lead organisation) provides more information on the partners (from Ireland, Spain, Portugal and Poland) and on the exchange trips happening in 2023, 2024 and 2025. And you can check out the brand new project website here (still under construction). Note that the main project themes (and work packages) are centred around Social Inclusion, Climate Action, Intergenerational Relationships and Cycling Promotion – all core campaigning areas for Cyclist.ie.   

Overall Project Coordinator: Toño Peña (in the whiteT-shirt) with his colleagues from the IES Alhama School

At this point, we want to find out if there are active members of our network who are interested in being part of the project. There will be a few different ways to get involved.

  • Firstly, we will need one or two people, in addition to Damien, to attend (at least some of) the online Project Team Meetings, where we all check in with each other (say, over 1 to 1.5 hours) and plan the next strands of the project. These meetings typically take place once every month or six weeks or so.

  • Secondly, we will be looking for participants to partake in, what are called, the LTTs (“Learning and Teaching Trips”) over the coming years. Cyclist.ie will be looking to send, maybe, 4/5/6 people on each trip (lasting 4 full days plus a day’s travel at either end – i.e. 6 days away in total per trip). The essence of these trips is doing multiple (mainly outdoor) learning activities with lots of people from different countries.

    The draft schedule of trips is as follows:
    Corella (in Navarre, in the north of Spain), late March 2023
    [Update note of 31.01.2023. Dates still to be confirmed. Also a possibility that this trip will take place around / during the week commencing Mon 24 April. Will be confirmed ASAP.]
    Waterford, last week in June 2023
    Azambuja (just north of Lisbon, Portugal), Oct 2023 (date TBC)
    Wodzislaw (in the south of Poland), Oct 2024 (date TBC)
    Estella (also in Navarre, near Pamplona in the North of Spain), June 2025 (date TBC).

  • Thirdly, when the crew come to Dublin (sometime in late 2024) for the LTT, we will need plenty of helping hands to formulate and run a diverse programme with a focus on cycling advocacy / events, especially targeted at a youth / younger adult audience. The programme can plug into some events that we might be running anyway – all to be figured out. A decision about the date of the Dublin LTT meeting in 2024 will probably need to be made by mid/late 2023.

  • Forth, there will be blogging work to do in between the LTTs. This will include penning stories for the project blog (reporting, for example, on what is happening in Ireland on various cycling advocacy fronts and linking to articles on https://cyclist.ie/ and https://www.dublincycling.com/), proofing articles drafted by those without English as a first language, posting articles and social media pieces about the LTT trips to our own platforms, and other bits and pieces.

  • Finally, we will need a hand on the admin and project management side – mainly around making sure we get a good spread of our people attending the LTT trips, and keeping a careful track of expenses etc. This item links back to the first one above (on Project Team Meetings). 

We are assuming that we may have more people interested in taking part in each LTT than there will be spaces available, so the Cyclist.ie Executive Committee (EC) is developing a fair and simple system to figure out who goes on the trips (and acts as ambassadors for Cyclist.ie). In Appendix I below, you can see the criteria we propose to use to assess applications (for the first trip anyway – we may tweak it subsequently). We also wish to flag it up here that we will require everyone going on trips away to be Garda Vetted in advance because five of the seven partner organisations are secondary schools. We will formalise the process around this soon, but in the meantime you might like to check out this ‘Garda Vetting’ web page.  

As above, the first LTT will take place in Corella in the North of Spain from Thu 23 to Tue 28 March inclusive. [Update note of 31.01.2023. Dates still to be confirmed. Also a possibility that this trip will take place around / during the week commencing Mon 24 April. Will be confirmed ASAP.]

The trip will comprise four full days of activities, plus a day for travel at either end) and we expect we will be sending, maybe, 4, 5 or 6 people from Cyclist.ie on the trip. The trips will be fully paid for – to include travel, accommodation, food and all of the various indoor and outdoor activities. Note that with the new ferry services from Ireland to the north of Spain, which now take foot passengers and cyclists, we may look into weighing up the pros and cons of traveling over land and sea, as against flying, from the perspective of low carbon travel (but we will also consider the travel time and costs involved for each option, and hence the numbers of delegates we can support).

Members of Biciclistas de Corella (local cycling campaigners) at an event in Corella Town Square

We are now seeking expressions of interest (EoI) from potential participants in attending this first LTT in Corella at the end of March, which promises to be an action-packed trip!

We ask that you submit a short letter of application (no more than two pages long) which explains why you would like to go on the trip and which responds to the criteria listed in Appendix I below. Please email [email protected] by latest Tuesday (night) 7th of Feb 2023 with your letter attached.

A sub-committee, comprising reps from the Cyclist.ie Executive Committee and from the board of DCC CLG / Cyclist.ie, will assess the applications, aiming to revert to (successful) applicants ASAP so that we can book our travel arrangements without delay.  

Please discuss this opportunity with colleagues in your local cycling advocacy group as soon as possible. If you have any questions on any of the above, please email Damien by 6pm on Wed 25 Jan. Note that if there is lots of interest in the project or questions on the above, we may organise a special Zoom meeting (most likely during the week commencing Mon 30 Jan). 

Many thanks. 

Damien

Dr. Damien Ó Tuama
National Cycling Coordinator, Cyclist.ie http://cyclist.ie/ and An Taisce https://www.antaisce.org/
The Tailors’ Hall
Back Lane
Dublin D08 X2A3
Ireland
E:  [email protected] 

Appendix I – Criteria for Assessing Applications for Partaking in the first LTT trip to Corella in Spain 

CriterionFurther Details / Background / ExplanationMarks (out of 100)
1.Member of a Cyclist.ie Member GroupThe current list of groups is here. Please confirm that you are a member of your local cycling advocacy group – and include a copy of a short email from your group Chairperson or Coordinator confirming that (i) you are a member of that group and (ii) your Chair / Coordinator supports your application for being an ambassador for Cyclist.ie on the LTT.  Mandatory
2. Active in your local groupPlease describe in your letter of application what you have been active in within your own cycle campaigning / advocacy group, particularly over the last year. Extra marks for those who have been on the organising / Executive Committee of the local group and/or of Cyclist.ie.   35
3.  Enthusiasm, experience working with younger groups and broader skills!  The Erasmus+ trips are very much convivial gatherings of diverse people, brought together under common themes – in this case social inclusion, climate action, intergenerational relationships and cycling promotion / advocacy. If you are especially sociable / easy to get along with, or perhaps you play an instrument or sing a song or do a dance, or have experience working with younger groups (maybe in outdoor settings), please let us know in your application! These ‘softer skills’ are valued a lot in this project where it’s all about nurturing exchange between diverse groups. 35
4. Younger adults Erasmus+ focuses particularly on the youth and younger adults (see here), so we are especially keen that within the Cyclist.ie delegation we have at least some members who are under 30 years of age. Let us know if you are under 30 (but also 18 years or over). 10
5. Language SkillsThere are partners on the project from Spain, Portugal and Poland so it would be advantageous if you have (even basic) conversational Spanish, Portuguese or Polish. Please let us know in your application. 10
6. Organised / Can help out with some basic adminBesides the trips themselves, there is an amount of admin support work to help to manage the project well – plus a need to post lively / informative web articles and blog posts. Let us know in your letter of application if you are prepared to help out with this and/or if you have experience writing articles of various types. You will receive guidance and training on this as needed / appropriate.10
Additional Criterion to be used in assessing all applications collectively, after the initial individual assessment has been completed
7DiversityFor this project, we are keen for the Cyclist.ie delegation to be diverse in every sense of the term. We are especially keen to have a good spread of active members of our network from all around the country, both urban and rural, with a good gender balance and mix of backgrounds. Do please tell us a bit about yourself in your application! To be considered before final team is chosen

Developing and Cycling EuroVelo Route 1

On Tuesday 15 November 2022 (8pm), Cyclist.ie and Dublin Cycling Campaign will jointly host a very special online public meeting on the topic of EuroVelo Route 1 (EV#1) in Ireland, also known as the Atlantic Coast Cycling Route. You can register to attend here (with registrations closing at 6pm on Tue 15 Nov).

EV#1 is the long distance signed cycling route running along the coasts of Norway, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, England, France, Spain and into Portugal (see below and here), and it is one of 17 EuroVelo routes being developed across Europe as coordinated by the European Cyclists’ Federation.   

The emerging EuroVelo network

We will have two extremely well qualified presenters on the night. 

Firstly, we will have Doug Corrie from Sport Ireland who works with their Outdoors unit. Doug has spent the last number of years liaising and engaging closely with the 10 Irish Local Authorities, through which the route runs, so as to identify the optimal route.

While the signing of the route is now nearing completion, the route itself will evolve over the coming years as new greenways come on stream and other interventions are advanced by local Councils. This will improve the cycling experience and widen its appeal to a more diverse set of users. At the presentation, Doug will explain the context around the development of EV#1 and the main considerations in identifying, signing and improving the route. 

Doug Corrie from Sport Ireland

Our second speaker, Florence Lessard, will be tuning in live from the North Coast of Quebec, having recently returned to Canada after cycling almost the complete EV#1 Irish route. Her journey ran from Rosslare, County Wexford, and on through the counties of Waterford, Cork, Kerry, Clare, Galway, Mayo, Sligo, Donegal, Derry and Antrim – and finishing up in Belfast.

Florence will share her experiences of cycling EV#1 and camping along the way. Some images giving a taster of her trip can be seen below. Florence has cycle toured widely in Quebec and also has considerable hiking experience including in the national parks of New Zealand.

Florence Lessard on her journey in Ireland.

The event will take place online (at 8pm Irish time and 3pm Quebec time) on Tue 15 November 2022. You can register to attend via this link here

For more on the EuroVelo European Cycle Route Network, see here

Cyclist.ie at World Cycling Alliance 2022 AGM

Cyclist.ie is part of the World Cycling Alliance through our own membership of the European Cyclists’ Federation

We were delighted that two members of Cyclist.ie’s Executive Committee attended the (fully online) Annual General Meeting of the World Cycling Alliance earlier today (Tuesday 18 October 2022) – Damien Ó Tuama (National Cycling Coordinator) and Will Andrews. 

The World Cycling Alliance comprises the overarching groups in each continent of the world, and it was fantastic to see cycling advocates from South Africa, Nigeria, Brazil, India, Australia and over a dozen European countries at the meeting. 

The WCA’s major achievement recently was the last-minute change to the transport resolutions made at COP 26 in Glasgow in November 2021. The WCA joined other environmental groups and secured a brief, but crucial, inclusion of active trave in the final Declaration:

We recognise that alongside the shift to zero emission vehicles, a sustainable future for road transport will require wider system transformation, including support for active travel, public and shared transport, as well as addressing the full value chain impacts from vehicle production, use and disposal.
[The full Declaration can be read here.]

Before WCA’s intervention, the ambition had been wholly aimed at promoting electric car roll-out.

Having such measures set and agreed at global level helps us all advocate for improved provisions, even down to local level where, for instance, unsustainable and counter-productive roads and traffic management projects are being backed by local politicians. 

Likewise, WCA membership can give credibility to those in emerging economies who want to promote cycling and sustainable transport in the face of car-biased urban planning policies.

Other initiatives of WCA include: 

* Promoting World Bicycle Day on June 3rd – for the background on this see here;

* Encouraging the UN General Assembly to pass Resolution 76/255, which calls for all governments to promote and encourage cycling as transport;

* Applying to the UN to be included in all future COP meetings.

The World Cycling Alliance 2022 AGM elected a member from each continent to its Board, and selected a new Chair, Graham Watson, who is a former MEP and current ECF board member.

Cyclist.ie looks forward to engaging more closely with the World Cycling Alliance over the coming months and years.

The photo at the top was taken at the (2016) Vélo-city Taipei parade.

EUROPEAN SCHOOLS AND CYCLING ASSOCIATIONS PARTNER IN A NEW ERASMUS+ PROJECT

We have terrific news in Cyclist.ie in that we have been successful with an Erasmus+ funding application to the European Commission where we are partners with six other organisations on a project focused on cycling, inclusion and climate action. This project will build on our previous involvement in an Erasmus+ project which was led by the same dynamic group of cycling advocates and teachers from Corella in Spain as is leading on this project. You can read the full press release here. 

Four countries. Seven partners. Three years. €250,000. These are some of the key figures of the Erasmus+ project Generations Pedaling for Inclusion and Climate Action or, in its abbreviated version, GenCy4In&ClimA

It is jointly coordinated by IES Alhama and Biciclistas de Corella (Navarra, Spain), who have partnered with four secondary schools: Zespol Szkol Ponadpodstawowych (Wodzislaw Slaski, Poland), Escola Secundária Azambuja (Ribatejo, Portugal), Newtown School (Waterford, Ireland) and a third partner from Navarra (Spain),  Tierra Estella High School. Additionally, Cyclist.ie –the Irish Cycling Advocacy Network, the organisation which encompasses associations all around Ireland  promoting everyday cycling, is on board as a partner.

This new project builds on from the Sustainable Mobility, Sustainable Community project, which between 2018 and 2022 made many achievements such as a developing a Cycling Without Age chapter and running 400 rides for elders and people with disabilities in tricycles, creating several cycling trails, publishing a blog with more than 350 entries, and organising four successful training and learning trips to Navarra, Dublin, Copenhagen and Lithuania (and much more!). However, the current project includes not only five new partners, but also new contents that fall into five categories or work packages (WPs):

  • Coordination and implementation of the project (WP1): management of activities, budget, online and onsite meetings, blog, dissemination, eTwinning, etc.
  • Social inclusion (WP2): embellishment/regeneration of neglected urban spaces and creation of Erasmus boards with the activities of the project in the five secondary schools.
  • Climate action (WP3): vegetable gardens and tree nurseries, tree plantations, nature clean-ups and environment weeks.
  • Intergenerational relationships (WP4): “Cycling Without Age” (CWA) tricycles, rides and courses, walking and cycling intergenerational excursions and cooking workshops.
  • Urban cycling promotion (PT5): DIY bike repair workshops, cycling trails, etc.

These five work packages will be developed in the four countries, by the seven partners and for the three year duration of the project. Additionally,  there will be two international Learning / Training / Teaching meetings per school year in order to meet the project objectives: Corella and Waterford (Ireland) in 2022-23, Azambuja (Portugal) and Wodzislaw Slaski (Poland) in 2023-24, and Dublin and Estella in 2024-25.

A further strength of the GenCy4In&ClimA project is its connection with the community. The project’s methodology is based on three premises: firstly, the students and volunteers become Erasmus ambassadors and lead the different activities; secondly, it runs according to a merit-based, transparent and public process; and thirdly, it aims to nurture strong relationships with local entities such as nursing homes, parents’ associations, local Councils, and other associations.

VELO-CITY 2022 – CYCLIST.IE REPORTS – GIULIA GRIGOLI

This is the forth in a series of articles on the recent Velo-city International Cycling Conference – with this one written by Giulia Grigoli of Dublin Cycling Campaign / Cyclist.ie.

The Beginning

Velo-City 2022, Ljubljana, was my third Velo-City, having attended and presented before at Velo-City 2019 in Dublin and at the hybrid remote-in person edition in 2021 in Lisbon. I arrived a few days prior to the beginning of the biggest international conference about cycling, so on Sunday afternoon I started exploring a bit of Ljubljana and I could appreciate from the beginning how liveable and pleasant the neighbourhood was. Trubarjeva cesta, one of the roads that lead to the city centre, is very quiet, safe and nice to walk in.  The car-free city centre was one of the best things I experienced in there. 

Beginning of Quiet zone Trubarjeva cesta

             

View of Park – Hrvatski Trg

The conference started on Tuesday, the 14th of June with an amazing plenary session kicked off by Professor Jan Gehl, who immediately set the tone for the next 4 days; it was the first time for me seeing him speaking in person and I was honoured to have had this opportunity.

One of the messages he so simply, but strongly, conveyed and that stuck to me the most was about remembering that when we talk about cycling, we always talk about people and that we shouldn’t forget that cycling should be something that brings us joy.  He also spoke about how his mother-in-law would use her bike as a walking stick when she couldn’t cycle it anymore, which I also found fascinating.

A picture containing text, monitor, television, indoor

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Jan Gehl presenting at the Opening Plenary session. 

Highlights from the sessions I’ve attended

Changing mind and Behaviours one ride at a time

Lucas Snaije from BYCS spoke about the Human Infrastructure concept, which means “Developing initiatives that reinforce cycling cultures and the ability for all individuals to access and perceive cycling as a viable, safe, empowering mode of transportation”. He mentioned the need for a paradigm shift from considering behavioural change interventions as “soft measures”, which  resonated with me a lot, together with the fact that “Solutions to behavioural barriers are often seen as a ‘nice to have’”, while it is probably the most important aspect to be focusing on to develop inclusive cycling cultures in tandem with providing the built cycling infrastructure. One of the recommendations that also echoed with the work I’ve been doing on the research Women on Wheels is the significance of the advice to “Emphasise storytelling with a focus on diversity”. 

Other highlights from this session was the presentation of Martti Tulenheimo on social media campaigns to keep people cycling through the winter-time in Finland. These campaigns reached an incredible number of 1 million people. Niccolo Panozzo from SCOTT sports spoke instead about e-bikes try-outs in a very little rural town of Germany populated by quite affluent rich people and the idea was that they’d swap their car keys for an e-bike for a short amount of time. Many people continued cycling after the try-out. 

Pitch your idea match-making session

Hosted by ECF Director of Projects, Goran Lepen, I was invited to participate in the match-making session, the first of this kind, where people with new project ideas or existing start-up ideas pitched their work and connected, after the end of the session, with potential new partners, collaborators or investors. I was very happy to briefly mention the work on gender and cycling that I’ve been doing with the Dublin Cycling Campaign, and I was accompanied on stage by Ines Sarti Pascoal, who’s also enhancing awareness of the gender gap in cycling and improving women’s participation in her cycling advocacy organisation (MUBI) in Lisbon. The idea is to continue this conversation on gender and transport with the ECF and possibly write together a proposal for further research through the Erasmus+ platform, so watch this space! 😊

After the match-making session, I had the pleasure of talking more with Annarita Lesseri, who also pitched the idea of the start-up she works for:  Pin Bike which gives rewards to people who cycle in the form of money or vouchers/tickets to different leisure activities. A number of pilots are active in many Italian cities and in Turkey, Portugal and Estonia. I look forward to talking to Annarita again about the possibilities of working together in Dublin.

In the afternoon I tried to divide myself between two sessions: Kids on bike: early practice for an active lifestyle, where I learnt about an inspiring project, Safe4Cycle, where online training material has been produced to train up children and youth to cycle and to create education about cycling as a legitimate mode of transport and lifestyle. It was interesting to note how the online format proved very successful, with the practice partly happening only at the end when Covid restrictions were lifted.

Extract of “Online cycling education –is it possible?” presentation from Tamás Abelovszky.

In the second session, When one in four is not enough: Implementing Smart Cycling Policies, Ruben Loendersloot spoke about Active-Travel oriented planning, and he raised important points such as listening to citizens as they have plenty of on-site experience, which is another conclusion I also came to in my transport planning career.  

Ruben Loendersloot speaking at parallel session “When one in four is not enough: Implementing Smart Cycling Policies”

Working towards more gender and equality

On Wednesday morning I spoke at this incredible panel session about my research project on gender and cycling developed with the Dublin Cycling Campaign: Women on Wheels. Since I had already presented last year (2021) in Lisbon the main findings and recommendations from our research, this year I took a slightly different angle and gave my perspective of being a transport planner and engineer, who’s been involved in social science research on gender and cycling and how this has impacted my perspective on the type of data and analysis transport planners mainly focus on, highlighting the fact the qualitative research should always be integrated in the process of transport planning to better understand real people’s experiences, needs and unmet demands in order to shape more desirable futures, rather than just using models and quantitative data that do not provide us with a full picture and appreciation of the potential for people’s propensity to change behaviour. 

The presentation was well received and got a mention on the official event ECF daily report: “When we talk about women’s mobility; the perception of safety and the quality of infrastructure is key. We need a holistic approach to transport planning”.

Giulia Grigoli (Dublin Cycling Campaign) speaking at parallel session “Working towards more gender and equality”

It was such a pleasure and an honour to be part of this great panel and group of women, all so supportive of each other. It was also very interesting to see again how research conducted in different parts of the world still shows that the main barrier to having more gender equality in transport, is the lack of representation of women in the sector and where decisions are taken. As Berta Molnár also highlighted in her presentation, society really needs to re-think gender roles if we really want the provision of transport services to be equal and to suit women’s needs and their different travel patterns. 

A group of women posing for a photo

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The full panel (From the left): Špela Berlot, Helena Porto, Inês Sarti Pascoal, Berta Molnár , Giulia Grigoli, Serra Garipagaoglu.

Cycling to School: from safer routes to school streets

In the afternoon I attended this panel, which reported on different solutions adopted to support active mobility around schools in different cities and countries (Belgium, Austria, Brazil, Slovenia, the UK and in Ireland). 

A group of people on a stage

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Conor Geraghty, Senior Engineer of Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council, speaking about the Active School Travel project.

Conor Geraghty, Senior Engineer of the Active Travel team of Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County  Council (DLRCC), presented The Active School Travel project, which aimed at delivering a connected and coherent network of cycle routes between schools in the County, using the least amount of new infrastructure. The project resulted in a success with one school reporting 91% of students travelling sustainably (bus, walk, cycling). It also demonstrated that using quick build facilities and thinking strategically (at a network level) can help with getting the support – and this can be followed by the expansion of schemes and larger interventions. 

Health benefits of cycling 

Finally, I really enjoyed, Melissa Bruntlett’s presentation on “Re-thinking urban space mental health, and the urban experience”, where she spoke about different aspects and maybe less obvious benefits of cycling through her own experience. For example, the importance of context and environment in shaping our perceived reality and the quality of our experience on the bike. Streets can be pleasant places or threatening places. When we can actually enjoy cycling and the environment surrounding us and we see people’s faces, we naturally feel more connected to others, thus increasing the production of happiness hormones. 

Melissa Bruntlett at the Freewheel stage session on “Health benefits of cycling”

The technical visit by bike to Ljubljana city centre 

On Thursday morning I took a break from the lectures and went on one of the technical visits of the city centre of Ljubljana. The cycle tour gave us the opportunity to experience first-hand the benefits of the full pedestrianisation of Ljubljana’s city centre. The pictures (below) speak for themselves – many squares that once were car parks are now places where people can linger, rest on a bench, walk with their dogs and families. Those spaces have been given back to people, rebuilding social life. What I found very clever was the idea of providing electric mini-trolley vans to transport people with disabilities, mobility issues or simply people carrying heavy weights for free around the city. The lift can be booked by phone, making the services very accessible and is paid by the Council. Given the extensive area that became car-free, I think this solution helped with making the pedestrianisation solutions fully inclusive and accessible. 

City Centre bike tour – the Market Square. 

Ljubljana City Council’s e-cart free mobility service in front of the Triple Bridge.

A view of motorised traffic closure in Slovenska Cesta.

Palača Novi trg (New Square) closed to traffic since 2013.

The Gala dinner and the European Cyclists’ Federation (ECF) Cycling Awards 

On the last night, the Gala dinner was magnificent – hosted at a stunning location, Ljubljana castle, where we were welcomed by a very Irish rain shower, and some lovely food and wine.

On that night the winners of the first edition of the ECF Cycling Awards were presented. Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council proudly won the Cycling Infrastructure Award for the innovative Coastal Mobility Route project which contributed to make cycling safer and more inclusive along the coast and helped with connecting communities during the Covid-19 pandemic. It also sustained the local economies of the little villages connected by the new cycle infrastructure, with 2 million cycling and walking trips in its first year.

Conor Geraghty, Senior Engineer of the Active Travel team, received the prize on behalf of the county. I was very happy and proud to see Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council winning this prize. It was well deserved as the Coastal Mobility Route project demonstrated that change can happen and it can happen faster than we think if enough will, trust and support are built between the Council and the citizens.

(Left to Right): Conor Geraghty, Senior Engineer of the Active Travel Team of Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council receiving the ECF Cycling Award prize, Tiago Oliveira, Director of Arup – sponsor of the Cycling Infrastructure Award, Jill Warren, CEO of European Cyclists’ Federation.

Being also a member of the Active Travel team of the Council, I was very proud for the win, so the Gala night just meant double celebrations for me too! 😊

Another happy moment at the Gala Dinner (Left to Right): Katleen Bell Bonjean (Cyclist.ie), Jo Sachs-Eldridge (Cyclist.ie), Rebecca Breslin (Cyclist.ie), Conor Geraghty (DLRCC), Damien Ó Tuama (Cyclist.ie), Giulia Grigoli (Cyclist.ie & DLRCC).

In Conclusion

For me one of the main take-aways from this experience is that with the right mix of good will, expertise and leadership anything can be achieved. Dublin and most cities around the world could be transformed as radically as Ljubljana was in the last 10 years. One of the last panel discussions also reminded us that a 10-year span is not so long as we may think, so it’s all down to keeping the focus on the things that really matter and to think big.

I loved seeing so many panels truly gender inclusive and so many good lines and strong messages delivered by women both at plenary and parallel sessions. Gender mainstreaming, for example, was mentioned at a plenary session by both Heather Thompson from ITDP and by Karen Vancluysen from Polis.

It was also good to hear different speakers calling for a change of paradigm in transport planning and talking about listening to the voices of citizens because they are the experts of their own lived experience in their local areas and streets. 

Last but not least, it was amazing to be part of this big crowd and getting to know other advocates from Cyclist.ie, having fun together and being at Velo-City again representing both the Irish Cycling Advocacy Network and Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council. 

Thank you all for making this experience so special!

The Cyclist.ie delegation (Left to Right): Rebecca Breslin, Katleen Bell Bonjean, Jo Sachs-Eldridge, Damien Ó Tuama, Giulia Grigoli.



Velo-city 2022 – Cyclist.ie Reports – Damien Ó Tuama

This is the third in a series of articles on the recent Velo-city International Cycling Conference held in Ljubliana in Slovenia – with this one penned by the National Cycling Coordinator of Cyclist.ie and An Taisce, Dr. Damien Ó Tuama.

Listening to Prof. Jan Gehl in the opening plenary of Velo-city 2022 brought me right back to hearing him speak at one of the first conferences Dublin Cycling Campaign organised on the theme of “Making Dublin a bike-friendly city” (see here). That was in 2004 and his message has remained consistent: we need to move from streets filled with objects (cars) to ones filled with people (on bikes and on foot) – and we need activism to make it happen! His story of how Copehagen was invaded with cars from the 1950s, but then rehumanised from the mid-1970s onwards never fails to inspire. 

It was particularly inspiring this year to see a strong Irish delegation from the advocacy sector, local authorities, state agencies and private companies. Some of these delegates would have participated in Velo-city in Dublin in 2019 (see Dublin Cycling Campaign’s report on that conference here), but there were plenty of new faces too which probably reflects the ambitious investment plans for cycling following the publication of 2020 Programme for Government, the advancement of plans such as the National Cycle Network (on the NCN, see here) and the growing membership of Cyclist.ie. 

In this article, I pick out just some of my highlights from Velo-city Ljubliana – and there are many to choose from.

1 – Session on Cycling Advocacy in Central and Eastern Europe
While attending conferences it is always interesting to learn about the local cycling advocacy culture in the Velo-city host country, the political contexts advocates work within and the successes groups have contributed to. Slovenia itself shares borders with Italy, Austria, Hungary and Croatia (see below), and there was strong representation at the conference from each of these countries and from other Balkan states. 



Ljubljana, the Slovenian capital city with a population of just under 300,000, is undoubtedly very impressive with its 17 hectares of refurbished open public space designated to pedestrians and cyclists (see here), and with Slovenska Cesta, one of Ljubljana’s busiest streets, turned into a road exclusively for public transport, pedestrians, and bicycles. There are also 830 public bicycles available from 83 stations around the city. The Slovenian Cyclists’ Network continues to campaign throughout the country for improved infrastructure, more bike parking at train stations and for an expansion of their Bike to Work scheme.

To the north east of Slovenia, we heard about some successes in Slovakia (the biggest car producer in the world on a per capita basis) and in Hungary where the national cycling association has approximately 2000 members across 18 local groups. Meanwhile in Croatia, the cycling advocates of Zagreb are role models for the rest of Croatia, where the main emphasis is on the need for safe cycling infrastructure. It was lovely to be able to share the 2-3 hour train ride from Zagreb to Ljubliana with lead members of Sindkat Biciklista from Croatia and to get a sense of how their organisation is faring. It is somewhat similar to Cyclist.ie is that it has one full-time employee supporting a large body of active volunteers, but is actively seeking to grow in size and make a bigger impact. 

The most challenging context for cycle advocacy in the region appears to be Romania, and Radu Mititean, President of the Romanian Cyclists’ Federation, gave a strikingly candid presentation on the difficulties facing cyclists and cycling advocates in the country. He distilled the challenges faced down to three (large!) domains: attitudes, infrastructure and legislation (see below). Shockingly we learnt that there is a complete ban on cycling for those under 14 years on all public roads in Romania. However hard cycle advocacy  is in Ireland, the challenges faced in Romania appear to trump ours – but we wish our colleagues in Romania the very best with their work.



 
2 – Increasing Diversity at the Helm of Advocacy Organisations
One of the best plenary sessions at Velo-city was on the topic of “Citizens, Stakeholders and Community” and the CEOs of some of the largest advocacy organisations in the world shared their views on the topic. The session was moderated by Saskia Kluit, former Director of the Fietsersbond / Dutch Cyclists’ Union and current Member of the Senate of The Netherlands.



Ann-Kathrin Schneider is the new CEO of the ADFC (the German National Cycling Advocacy Association) which has 215,000 members, and she herself has recently moved into the sustainable transport advocacy space having come from the climate movement. She had traveled directly to Ljubliana from the 30,000 strong cycle protest in Berlin which was calling for more space on Berlin’s roads for people on bikes. She stressed the need for there to be greater collaboration between climate and sustainable transport campaigners.

Sarah Mitchell is the new CEO of Cycling UK, which itself has 70,000 members from England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Sarah has recently led the move for Cycling UK to rejoin the European Cyclists’ Federation. She is putting a special effort into helping to diversify the membership of Cycling UK, and is seeking to resist the attempts of the UK media organisations to drag the cycling advocates into the culture wars and the false dichotomy between “cyclists” and “drivers”. 

Jill Warren, CEO of the European Cyclists’ Federation, recounted the story of the global campaign led by ECF that included an open letter to governments at COP26 signed by 350 organisations worldwide, and that helped achieve a last-minute recognition of active travel in the official declaration published at COP26 Transport Day in November 2021. Clearly, at both EU and national levels, there is a need in the policy debates about decarbonising transport to continue to shift the emphasis from only thinking about e-cars, to broader considerations of how much we travel and by what means. 

Jenn Dice, CEO of People for Bikes in the US, spoke of the need to build coalitions in their advocacy work, and to lead with the argument of ‘developing mobility choices’ rather than ‘providing for cyclists’. This was a message echoed by Ana Carboni, CEO, Union of Cyclists of Brazil which was founded around 15 years ago. 

A further excellent session, featuring lead women in cycling advocacy and cycling planning, included Giulia Grigoli (below) from Dublin Cycling Campaign. 

One of the slides of Berta Molnár (pictured above on the right) from the Centre for Budapest Transport

3 – Let’s Talk About Funding
One of the essential demands of cycling campaigners over the years has been for adequate funding for cycling interventions, and I spoke about Cyclist.ie’s successful advocacy work in this domain. This work embraced research to interrogate how transport capital funding was being spent over several years, drafting pre-budget submissions, organising protests and putting the funding demand to the fore ahead of General Election 2020. My full presentation can be read here

The advice from Dan Kollár from Cyklokoalícia in Slovakia, in his own presentation in the same session (abstract here), was that cycling advocates need to focus on seeking to reach higher modal share of cycling – and reducing the mode share of driving – by having the right selection criteria set for infrastructure projects. This point was endorsed by other attendees who stressed the need for municipalities to have coherent plans ready while also securing significant funds for cycling.  

Damien speaking in the session on funding for cycling. Photo taken by Hans Stoops from Cykelfrämjandet (the Swedish Cyclists’ Union)

4 – Keeping the Planet’s Health to the Fore
With all the talk of continually expanding the production of new bikes and e-bikes, it was refreshing to hear the grassroots perspectives of Priscillia Petitjean (pictured below) from Les Ateliers des l’Audace in France. She stressed the need for us to take a close look at the resources involved in bike construction and disposal, to promote the refurbishment of second-hand bicycles and to increase access to bikes.

Issues around the affordability of bikes were also raised by Angela Van der Kloof who pointed to research showing that 10% of households in Amsterdam in The Netherlands – one of the richest countries in the world – cannot afford bikes for their children. Meanwhile Oscar Funk from the City of Copenhagen (pictured below) focused on the transport poverty arguments and the need for more inclusive policies to support a wider take-up of cycling.  

5 – “The future is already here – it’s just not very evenly distributed”
The plenary session on Urban Mobility Innovation was particularly stimulating – with the quote of William Gibson on the future (above) referenced early on. Phillipe Crist (from the OECD) reminded us that 2050 is to today as 1994 is to 2022, so the landmark year of 2050 – in terms of the need to have fully net decarbonised systems – is really not that far away (just 28 years). Karen Vankluysen, Secretary General of Polis (the network of European cities and regions working together to develop innovative technologies and policies for local transport), spoke of the future of mobility needing to be “people-powered”, involve “peak seamlessness and intermodality” and of autonomous cars “only being used for very specific contexts”. Meanwhile Mette Granbergy from Helsinki Region Transport spoke of the need for “transport emissions to be sorted” and for infrastructure not just to be enabling of cycling, but to be properly inviting

With the global population expected to be around 10 billion people by 2050 and with 70% living in the urban environment, it really is essential that our systems of mobility are zero carbon, equitable and without the mass of casualties that is currently an inherent part of our transport systems. 

In Conclusion
It was informative and fun to be back at Velo-city, and encouraging to see the strong participation of Irish delegates. The informal conversations over lunch, between formal sessions and on the cycles are as important as the pure content of the sessions. Do take a look at the short video produced by ECF to get a better flavour of the event. 

However, the representation from Irish officialdom was not evenly distributed countrywide, so I really think it’s essential that Councillors, Directors of Services and senior officials from local authorities not represented in Ljbubliana or at recent Velo-city conferences seek to attend and present at Velo-city 2023 in Leipzig and Velo-city 2024 in Ghent. The call for abstracts for Leipzig will happen (most likely) in September 2022.  

Ireland has shown it can take the lead on “building ambitious and innovative cycling infrastructure” with Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council winning the ECF’s Cycling Infrastructure Award at Velo-City 2022. We need to see a lot more of that as the pressure is on both at home and abroad to decarbonise our transport systems very quickly.

For further accounts of the conference, see the ECF’s Daily Reports:

ECF AGM 2022 – WE MEET IN PERSON AGAIN!

Cyclist.ie was once again delighted to be able to attend the recent AGM of the European Cyclists’ Federation (ECF) in person! Cyclist.ie is the member for Ireland of the ECF. It was held in Berlin and hosted by ECF Member German Cyclists’ Association (ADFC). This followed two years of online AGMs where we craved some real interaction, workshops, socialising and guided bike trips with our European colleagues. 

Cyclist.ie was represented by Mary Sinnott from the Cyclist.ie Executive Committee, Damien Ó Tuama (Cyclist.ie’s National Cycling Coordinator) and Colm Ryder (former Chair of Cyclist.ie). 

Overall ECF is in good shape after another year of high impact campaigning at an EU level. At the AGM, ECF members welcomed four newly elected and re-elected board members – Jan Vermeulen (from Belgium) as Treasurer, and Camille Thomé (France), Francesco Baroncini (Italy) and Prof. Angela Francke (Germany). 

ECF also welcomed six new member organisations. They were Cycling UK, Biciklo.me (from Montenegro), Marakli t’Biciklave (from Kosovo), and Tüm Bisiklet Dernekleri Federasyonu (TUBIDEF – the Federation of all Cycling Associations of Turkey) as Full members, as well as Polish Union of Active Mobility (PUMA) and Cycling & Health Tech Industry R&D Center (CHC from Taiwan) as Associate members.

Cyclist.ie is especially happy to see Cycling UK  (formerly known as the CTC / Cyclists’ Touring Club) back to being part of ECF and we look forward to liaising with them over the coming years. Sarah Mitchell, CEO of Cycling UK, informed us that it was the pressure from her members that pushed them to rejoin ECF, and break that Brexit hoodoo. As a membership organisation of approximately 70,000 members, it also represents a significant boost to the ECF to have them back on board.

The most impactful and emotional presentation from the AGM was, undoubtedly, that made by the two members of U Cycle in Kyiv, Ukraine, who managed to attend against all the odds. Even their journey to the AGM was highly eventful as they were delayed at various points along the way due to the attacks on their transportation system. But what the volunteers from U Cycle have achieved since the war started has been inspirational – and, as the women stated in their presentation, bikes have become central to the movement of people and goods in their war-torn cities. Do check out their presentation here.

Workshops were also held around Data and Cycle Campaigning, which gave much food for thought including impressive statistics on the growth of cycling in most EU countries during Covid. We recommend you take a look at these presentations too. In particular, there is a huge amount happening on the data front that we need to keep abreast of and use in our own plans in Cyclist.ie. Additionally, there were several presentations from smaller ECF organisations showing some of their recent successes. The ones from Croatia, Portugal & Slovakia were particularly impressive.

One of the most enjoyable parts of any ECF AGM is the half-day bike tour with other delegates, where one experiences a good sample of cycling infrastructure and cycle-friendly areas. We observed that Berlin is a city with a lot of space given over to cars, both parked and moving, but some better quality cycle routes have been built during Covid. That said, the quality of the cycle infrastructure in the city is decidedly mixed. What is perhaps most impressive though is the myriad of parks dotted around the city, complete with table-tennis tables, playgrounds, mature trees and some fine street art. There does appear to be quite a strong cycling culture in Berlin with far more cargo bikes about, and a greater age diversity of people on bikes than one finds in Irish cities. 

All in all, it was a great trip to Berlin and we look forward to the 2023 event.

You can read more about the ECF AGM here.  

Ambitious Targets Set for Cycling in Europe!

Cyclist.ie is the member for Ireland of the European Cyclists’ Federation (ECF), and we are a regularly active participant in shaping policy and plans for the future of cycling in Europe through our parent advocacy body, the ECF.

Just recently the ECF, and the cycling industry grouping, Cycling Industry Europe (CIE), agreed a new cooperation agreement that set clear targets for the growth of cycling in Europe. The role of both ECF and CIE is critical in advocating for cycling at a European level, and major changes in the policy within the EU in relation to transport and ancillary areas have occurred as a result.

Some of the agreed targets for the next decade, as agreed between ECF and CIE, are outlined here:

  • Overall cycling levels to increase by 50%
  • 50 million European adults who prior to 2019 “rarely or never” cycled to take up cycling
  • 100,000km of new cycling infrastructure to be built in Europe
  • 15 new national cycling strategies to be adopted in the UNECE/WHO Europe region
  • An additional €15 billion for EU-funded cycling infrastructure projects, on top of national spending
  • Fiscal and financial incentives for cycle purchase and use to total €500 million per year in tax breaks, leasing support and new bike-sharing schemes
  • Bicycle and e-bike sales in Europe to grow to 30 million annually

These are undoubtedly ambitious but also achievable targets. We in Ireland must be similarly ambitious, by working at national and local levels, in pushing for better policies and radically improved and connected infrastructure. We need to encourage the “rarely” or “never cycle” cohorts to adopt changes in their lifestyles for their own benefit and for the benefit of the planet.

And as a final teaser; would you be able to describe in 5 words what cycling means to you? Try it out, and check out what Leury Kerpen of Thun Cycles in Germany, a family firm making bike parts thinks. Here are his 5 words for cycling

Do you agree? Let us know via [email protected] what your 5 words might be, and feel free to pass on the challenge to friends and family!

Streets 4 All NI – Webinar #2 – 25 Nov 2021

Streets 4 All NI’s second webinar will take place on Thursday 25th November 2021 from 8pm to 9pm.

In this webinar you’ll hear perspectives from Germany on the cycling industry, cycling advocacy, and progress in liveability, and from Northern Ireland on issues around transport and infrastructure development that affect the mobility of disabled people and older people.

Burkhard Stork is the Managing Director / CEO of Zweirad-Industrie-Verband (the German Bicycle Industry Association), and former Director of Allgemeiner Deutscher Fahrrad-Club (ADFC, the German National Cyclists’ Association).

Michael Lorimer is the Executive Secretary of IMTAC (the Inclusive Mobility and Transport Advisory Committee) which advises the Government and others in Northern Ireland.

You are very welcome to join this one hour webinar hosted by Cyclist.ie. Attendance is free, and registration is required – see here.

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/