Elaine Baker from the Cycling Cloughjordan group in County Tipperary is taking a stand about the issue of Irish Ferries not allowing push bikes on the Pembroke to Rosslare ferry, despite allowing motorbikes and motorized vehicles on board. Cycling Cloughjordan is part of the Irish Cycling Campaign organisation.
In her series of video blog posts, filmed on Sat 17 to Sun 18 February 2024, she tracks her experience of trying to bring her folding bicycle on board the service from Fishguard having been visiting friends in South Wales, with a view to sailing into Rosslare and then travelling on back home to County Tipperary.
In this first video, filmed en route by bus to Fishguard, she explains her rationale for wanting to take the direct ferry to Rosslare – and thus avoiding the much more carbon intensive mode of flying.
In the next video, she reports on the refusal of the company to let her on board with her bicycle – despite there being no good reason for the rule itself.
In the third third video here, filmed at 2.30am on a wet morning, she elaborates on the absence of any logic in allowing motorbikes on board the ferry but not allowing bikes without motors on board. Despite spending several hours at the ferry port talking to many different staff members, she was offered no sensible reason for why push bikes were not allowed on the ferry.
And in this forth video, filmed with the early morning birds audible in the background and after she was asked by staff to leave the dark and fairly desolate area, she observes the ferry she was supposed to be on leaving the ferry port with motorbikes on board.
At the time of posting this article here, Elaine was en route to Holyhead in North Wales – which is quite a circuitous route by train from Pembroke.
Two updates further on Elaine’s journey – video #5 here and video #6 here, both from Holyhead port at around 5.30pm and 6pm respectively. In these videos (screen shot below), Elaine highlights that one of the two sailings from Holyhead around 8pm / 8.30pm would be taking foot passengers and cyclists, whereas the other one wouldn’t be.
At the time of updating this article (8.30pm on Sunday night), Elaine should have left Holyhead and be en route to Dublin Port…… after a very long and circuitous journey.
Elaine and Irish Cycling Campaign would like to make it a condition of the licences issued to ferry companies that any ferry which carries passengers who travel with a car or motorcycle should also be mandated to carry people on bikes and foot passengers. They can put limits on the total number of passengers of course and the total weight / size of vehicles, but they should not be allowed to carry larger vehicles but not the smaller ones.
Irish Cycling Campaign is fully behind Elaine’s activism on this issue. If we want to encourage less carbon intensive travel and therefore less flying, it should be safe, easy and permissible to take bikes on ferries and to continue journeys by bike and rail, or bike and bus.
We will add further updates to this story in due course.
As Cyclist.ie has called for throughout its campaigning history, we need bold action to promote walking and cycling as part of the process of decarbonising our transport systems.
As COP28 takes place in Dubai, Cyclist.ie is proud to be joining hundreds of NGOs in signing a joint letter from The Partnership for Active Travel and Health to call on world leaders to promote active travel in facing the climate crisis – but we need more to join our open call!
Active travel delivers more than any other transport mode when it comes to sustainable development and climate action. If more people were enabled to walk and cycle safely, it could reduce transport emissions by as much as 50%!
Yet, the recent PATH report on the climate plans of UNFCCC countries – see here – reveals that only eight countries have properly linked walking and cycling with their climate plans!
Cyclist.ie is delighted to announce a collaboration with Cycle Friendly Employer Ireland. CFEI is the only official provider of the EU-standard Cycle-Friendly Employer programme in Ireland. Developed by the European Cyclists’ Federation, the programme is aimed at getting more people on bikes and cycling to work. Together, Cyclist.ie and CFEI support the development of more cycle-friendly routes nationwide and more funding opportunities for cycling.
Cyclist.ie is the national cycling advocacy organisation for Ireland. At present it has 35 member groups countrywide in both urban and rural areas, and engages systematically with national level government departments and agencies, and with local authorities through its local groups. Cyclist.ie was founded in 2008 to advocate nationally for better cycling conditions, and built on the work of its member organisations, some of whom had commenced cycle campaigning over 30 years ago (as reported here). Cyclist.ie is the member for Ireland of the European Cyclists’ Federation and has engaged closely on European transport policy formation, through the ECF, for many years. Cyclist.ie is also a member of the Irish Environmental Network and The Wheel (Ireland’s national association of charities, community groups and social enterprises).
CFE is part of Ireland’s Sustainable Mobility Action Plan. Participation in the CFE scheme helps to:
Decrease carbon emissions
Reduce transport costs
Lower employee absence and improve wellbeing
Demonstrate one’s commitment to the environment and sustainability
Attract and retain talent and customers
The collaboration between Cyclist.ie and CFEI will work to increase awareness amongst companies / organisations in Ireland of the CFE certification framework, and of the campaigning and advocacy work of Cyclist.ie which is helping to reshape transport policy and culture in Ireland.
On the announcement of the alliance, Mairéad Forsythe, Chairperson of the Board of Cyclist.ie, said
“We are at an extremely exciting time in the development of cycling in Ireland. Cycling advocacy plays an integral and important role in influencing how progressive transport policy is developed, and Cyclist.ie is leading the way in recasting transport policy at local and national levels. But companies and other organisations also have a crucial role in influencing how employees commute to work – so Cyclist.ie is delighted to team up with Cycle Friendly Employer Ireland and help to shape how companies think about the development of local transport plans and the provision of cycling friendly infrastructure.”
Meanwhile, Michael O’Boyle, CEO of Cycle Friendly Employer Ireland, said
“Companies and other organisations are now recognising the multiple benefits of having a healthy workforce with more employees cycling to work. It reduces emissions and is cheaper for employers and employees, and improves health outcomes. CFEI helps employers to measure their current cycle-friendliness and implement effective, actionable strategies to help more employees to cycle to work.
Our services include bike pool schemes, insurance, maintenance support and facilities consultation, as well as building community within and between cycle-friendly organisations.
Individual action can have a big impact and we are delighted to team up with Cyclist.ie to promote cycling throughout Ireland.”
All in all, the alliance between the two organisations is a positive move for cycling development in Ireland. Both organisations look forward to seeing – and to contributing to – the development of a strong cycling culture countrywide.
Last weekend cycling campaigners from Cyclist.ie groups / branches across the country descended on Dublin to re-energise each other ahead of what we expect will be a busy next 12-18 months of campaigning.
The Tailors’ Hall Gathering (Saturday 30th Sept) Representatives from many of our 35 groups landed into the lovely Tailors’ Hall (An Taisce’s HQ) for a day of debating our campaigning priorities for 2024. We were delighted to have two representatives (Clare and Keelan) there from the newest local group, Gorey Pedestrian and Cycling Association – and with other delegates having traveled from as far away as Skibbereen, Sligo and Gort. And we were even more delighted that Mná na h-Éireann were out in force, with slightly more women attending the meeting than men – and even more women attending the cycle on the Sunday (see below).
The Gathering was especially important since our network of groups had not met since before the pandemic – and there is nothing like meeting in person to have proper debates with one’s peers.
Cyclist.ie Chairperson Neasa Bheilbigh setting the scene for the day – Photo credit: Dave Tobin
To start the day off, we were treated to ten short talks show-casing successful campaigns and initiatives at a local level. These included talks on:
School streets in Galway [Reg Turner, Chair of Galway Cycling Campaign]
Community garden cycles, Miren Maialen [Dublin Cycling Campaign]
Biodiversity themed pedal parades – see poster below [Claire Anne Tobin]
There then followed two engaging sessions – one, gathering our thoughts ahead of the 2024 Local Elections; and the second, exploring the nature of crises and what it means for an advocacy body to be ‘crisis-fit’.
Ger O’Halloran (Dublin Cycling Campaign) reporting back on the breakout session – Photo credit: Damien Ó Tuama
All in all, there were some rich discussions and learnings from the event which we are now digesting, and which the Executive Committee will analyse in more depth over the coming weeks.
How many Brompton bikes can you store in a historic fireplace? Photo credit: Siobhán McNamara
Dublin Cycling Campaign’s 30th Birthday (Saturday 30th Sept) The timing of our Gathering was chosen so as to synchronise with Dublin Cycling Campaign’s big 30th Birthday celebrations. As explained in the press release issued ahead of the party, Dublin Cycling Campaign “emerged in 1993 in response to the systematic omission from official transport thinking of cycling as an essential part of the urban transport system. Cycling, and indeed walking, had essentially been cut out of all of the ‘serious’ transport strategies and investment programmes for several decades”.
The party brought together members and friends of the Campaign going back in time – and we were fortunate enough to have some gorgeous black and white photos from the 1990s taken by Photographer Jim Berkeley on display for the day – many thanks Jim! Additionally, seven of DCC’s 13 Chairpersons over its three decade span came along, and elected politicians from an array of parties at Council, Dáil Éireann and European Parliament levels popped in over the course of the evening to mark the occasion.
A huge thanks to DJ 25Seán who played some fine dancey tunes upstairs in the hall – the perfect way to unwind after a day of meetings!
DJ 25Seán mixing it up for the guests – Photo credit: Miren Maialen
Excitement all round at the party! – Photo credit: Will Andrews
Dodder Cycleway Spin (Sunday 1st October) To top the weekend off and wipe the cobwebs away on Sunday morning, Mairéad Forsythe from Dublin Cycling Campaign led a lovely spin along the Dodder Greenway from Rathfarnham to Kiltipper Park where all the gang enjoyed a picnic – as per the photos below.
Rendezvous point #1 at the Grand Canal: Photo credit: Katleen Bell Bonjean
The Cyclist.ie / Dublin Cycling Campaign gang at Balrothery weir on the Dodder Cycleway – Photo credit: Katleen Bell Bonjean.
Mary Sinnott and Katleen Bell Bonjean from Cyclist.ie’s Executive Committee enjoying the picnic – Photo credit: Katleen Bell Bonjean.
Anne Nospickel and Snoobles taking a break in Kiltipper Park – Photo credit: Katleen Bell Bonjean
Cyclist.ie wishes to thank all of the organisers for their work in making the weekend happen – and all of the delegates and party people for contributing to the events. We also thank An Taisce, The Tailors’ Hall Tavern, and The Right Catering Company for the venue and the fine food served on the Saturday.
We look forward to the next Cyclist.ie in-person gathering which, we hope, will be west of the Shannon in Spring 2024!
Damien Ó Tuama 03 October 2023
Note: featured image at the top of this page taken by Jessica from The Right Catering Company
Cyclist.ie is delighted to hear of the ambitious news on cycling (as below) from Brussels. Cyclist.ie is the member for Ireland of the European Cyclists’ Federation and an active player on the European stage through the ECF.
Today, at the Cycling Industries Europe Summit, European Commission Executive-Vice President Frans Timmermans, announced that the EU institutions will complete an ambitious cycling plan this year, including commitments to increase funding for infrastructure and industrial growth. This follows a resolution passed by the European Parliament in February which called on the Commission and Member States to take actions to double cycling in the EU.
In front of a packed house of industry leaders in Brussels, Timmermans was joined by MEP Karima Delli and Belgian Transport Minister Georges Gilkinet representing the Parliament and Member States. Both confirmed that the proposed Cycling Declaration will be inter-institutional, representing the EU’s highest level of political commitment for cycling.
Saying that Europe must have a role in supporting cycling, Timmermans announced the declaration saying: “I am announcing an initiative to boost the bike in Europe. The Commission will propose a European Cycling Declaration and invite the Parliament and Council to join and make this an interinstitutional agreement. We will include principles for supporting cycling, along with access to tools and funds. This will ensure our citizens will not only have the right to cycle on paper, but access to support. European instruments must be used to double cycling in Europe!”
Timmermans also welcomed the adoption of the recent European Parliament resolution on developing a European Cycling Strategy, calling it a “huge democratic mandate for cycling”, making his job in the European Commission easier. With momentum for more European support for cycling building, he said that now is the right time for a Declaration, saying that this “is the way”.
Tony Grimaldi, President of CIE responded positively to the announcements, thanking Timmermans, Delli and Gilkinet for their leadership on the Declaration, especially Karima Delli for the strong collaboration with the European cycling associations that created ambitious targets for the cycling plan, doubling the level of cycling in Europe and creating one million new, green cycling jobs.
Speaking to the attendees, Grimaldi said: “Today we are proud that the three EU institutions are coming together at the CIE Summit to announce their latest plans for an EU Cycling Declaration. The CIE Summit has become an essential milestone for all our cycling stakeholders to come together and share what we can do for Europe.”
He continued: “However, today is not the day to say “job done”, today is when we take the next steps. The Commission must now produce a final EU Cycling Declaration that takes concrete actions to deliver these goals, and we in the cycling industry will show again that we are the greenest, smartest, most reliable partners in the European Mobility Ecosystem.”
Jill Warren, CEO of the European Cyclists’ Federation said: “ECF welcomes today’s announcement that the Commission will act on the Parliament’s resolution and elevate cycling to a strategic priority. As part of this, more funding for high quality, safe cycling infrastructure will be key to doubling cycling levels in Europe.”
In the detailed announcement for the EU Cycling Declaration, Frans Timmermans said that the Commission will produce a vision for cycling by the summer, supported by detailed proposals on the actions to be taken to deliver the plans. This must include funding for infrastructure, a review of regulations and support for cycling industries in the EU’s industrial strategies. It is expected that the Parliament and European Council of Member States will complete their review of the plan by the end of 2023.
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.
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).
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).
Appendix I – Criteria for Assessing Applications for Partaking in the first LTT trip to Corella in Spain
Further Details / Background / Explanation
Marks (out of 100)
Member of a Cyclist.ie Member Group
The 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.
Active in your local group
Please 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.
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.
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).
There 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.
Organised / Can help out with some basic admin
Besides 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.
Additional Criterion to be used in assessing all applications collectively, after the initial individual assessment has been completed
For 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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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”.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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! 😊
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!