Category Archives: EU Posts

European Union

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/

A New President and Board at ECF

Cyclist.ie was well represented at the AGM of the European Cyclists’ Federation held today, Friday 23 April 2021. 

It was another successful AGM with the ECF family of groups growing further. 

Cyclist.ie wishes to congratulate the newly elected President of the ECF, Henk Swarttouw (based in Sweden/The Netherlands), on his journey ahead. Henk has been a Vice-President of ECF for the last two years.  

We also want to congratulate the other new board members. They are:

  • Sidsel Birk Hjuler (Denmark)
  • Graham Watson (UK)
  • Judit Toth (Hungary)
  • Francesco Baroncini (Italy)

The term of Cyclist.ie’s Damien Ó Tuama as a board member finished at the AGM, as did those of Raluca Fiser (Romania) and Alessandro Tursi (Italy).

The new board members will join the existing members of Lars Stromgren (Sweden) and Camille Thome (France) on the board.

More news about ECF activities in due course.

ECF: RECOMMENDATIONS FOR THE COVID-19 RECOVERY

During the quarantine, cycling has proven to be the safest, most efficient mode of transport we have. It cuts air pollution, which is likely to help spread the virus, and guarantees social distancing between commuters. In order to ensure a fast recovery, the European Cyclists’ Federation (ECF) issued a set of recommendations for European, national and local authorities to promote cycling.

“This is not just a matter of sustainable mobility any more: more and better cycling has become a primary health issue. And if we want to reap the benefits bicycles can provide, we must ensure the measures we are taking will stay in the future. This is our opportunity to redesign cities for good, we can’t waste it with temporary solutions” declared Morten Kabell, co-CEO of ECF.

Cars have almost disappeared from the streets of Europe, bringing noise and air pollution levels down to historic lows. On the other hand, bicycles have emerged as the best option to do essential trips, deliver food and medicines, and get physically active. Never before have we been able to see, in such a clear way, the impact of our current mobility model on health, the environment, equality and safety. And never has such a great share of the population realised that private motorised mobility is far from the ideal commute.

Yet, the prospect of another traffic jam clogging our cities and polluting our air is not difficult to imagine. With public transport operating at reduced capacity, the only truly viable alternative we have to relaunch our economy and society is active mobility. Cycling is the hyper-efficient, quick and cheap option that will enable a boost recovery for Europe, instead of a slow and clumsy one.

“We have put together a set of recommendations for new streets that will unlock the full potential of cycling mobility. These solutions will enable extensive benefits in terms of traffic efficiency, a local economy reboot, public health savings. We call on all municipalities, regions and national governments to adapt these principles to their local context and give Europe a head start in the recovery phase”, said Jill Warren, co-CEO of ECF.

1. Cycling infrastructure networks

A well-designed network of bicycle infrastructure is essential to the promotion of cycling as a safe, efficient and healthy mode of transport. A comprehensive network of so called “COVID lanes” will immediately facilitate cycling access in cities. Following the example of Berlin, Budapest, Paris, Rome, among many others, a total target of 95,000 kilometres of roads should be repurposed for cycling. The deployment of various elements of street furniture can help ensure that the segregation of modes is respected by all users.

To further improve the efficiency of the investment, these elements should then be reconciled and integrated in the permanent urban infrastructure.

2. Reduce traffic speed limits

Road safety experts agree that speed is one of the major threats to safer streets. Reducing traffic speed in cities to 30km/h (if not lower) is the first step to achieve that goal and would not make overall mobility any slower. The City of Brussels took an exemplary measure, reducing speed limits to 20 km/hour in all streets inside the inner ring road.

3. Incentivise positive change, dis-incentivise business as usual

Together with Cycling Industries Europe and several other bicycle organisations in Europe, we are calling on the European institutions to create a €5 billion centralised EU e-bike Access Fund. Establishing a set of subsidies scheme for the purchase of (e-)(cargo)bikes can go a long way in nudging people in the right direction.

On the other hand, we need to reduce the over €100 billion congestion costs in European cities (more than 1% of the EU GDP per year). Looking for a solution, ECF studied the implementation of congestion charges in 4 cities over many years: Milan, London, Gothenburg and Stockholm. The ECF report “Congestion charges and cycling” proves the success of investing revenues from congestion charges into a sustainable mobility plan, and particularly cycling. With different approaches, the 4 cities achieved similar, positive results: introducing a congestion charge scheme created net revenues, reduced congestion, improved air quality and was beneficial for sustainable mobility.

4. Cycle logistics

Right-turning (left in Ireland & the UK) trucks in urban areas are one of the leading causes of deadly and life-changing accidents with cyclists. Also, over 90% of all commercial vans and trucks currently circulating are diesel-fuelled. The promotion of alternatives such as cycle logistics for the last-mile delivery is essential. The Horizon2020 EU-funded project City Changer Cargo Bike has already collected a number of valuable resources to guide cities and businesses in the process of converting their urban logistics into a more efficient, cleaner and infinitely safer system.

At a national and European level, stricter safety and visibility standards for lorry manufacturers must be imposed. While the revised General Safety Regulation already represents a great leap in cycling safety, the EU must firmly lead the negotiations at the UN to define the exact technical specifications for each of the measures.

Cycling Beyond the Crisis

The coronavirus pandemic is hitting our lives, our economies and even our way of seeing the world. There are always lessons to learn from difficult times and this crisis has made it clear that we need to change the way we live, work and move. During these days, cars have almost disappeared from all streets of Europe, noise and air pollution levels have fallen to historic lows and bicycles have risen as the safest means of transport to do essential trips for food and medicine and to get some outdoor exercise. Never before have we been able to see, in such a clear way, the impact of the current mobility model on health, environment, equality and safety. Nor has a generation ever faced such a crucial “what if” moment for transportation. ECF finds, in this COVID19 crisis, one of those life-changing moments that can drive great social changes. With ‘Cycling Beyond the Crisis’ we want to gather facts, initiatives and insights that could lead to reset European mobility and economy once we’ve beaten the COVID19.

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Amsterdam bicycle mayor thinks cycling could save the world

Amsterdam is known as the bicycle capital of the world because of its cyclist-friendly culture and infrastructure, including more than 500 kilometers of cycle paths and lanes. Nearly half the working population of the city commutes daily by bike. But it wasn’t always this way. In the 1950s and 60s, the city was “in thrall to motorists,” according to The Guardian, and it was only after traffic casualties rose that activists managed to insist on a change in transit policies. The oil crisis of the 70s also made fuel more expensive and led to a push for energy conservation.

Now, bicycle mayors have spread to 91 cities—a global movement powered by the idea that “if Amsterdam can do it, any city in the world can do it.”

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Vote for the Right Candidates in Euro Elections!

As the European populace is voting for their representatives in the new European Parliament later this week, we are extremely pleased to see strong cross-party support for cycling as the future of transport among the next generation of elected officials. This is the key result of the ECF European Parliament 2019 election campaign coordinated with our members over the last few weeks.

In 25 out of 28 Member States, candidates to become MEPs have been asked to complete a survey of their views on five of the most pressing issues for Europe’s cyclists. Candidates were also asked to sign the Cycling for All pledge, signing up to be champions for cycling in the next parliament.

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Cyclist.ie in Erasmus at Corella

Back in September 2017, we were delighted to be contacted – completely out of the blue – by Toño Peña, the Vice-President of Biciclistas de Corella, a Spanish organisation promoting the bicycle as a means of transport. He was inquiring to see if Cyclist.ie would like to be a partner in an Erasmus+ project funding application he was leading on. The project was to be all about social inclusion, youth empowerment and sustainable transport. The answer was an emphatic ‘yes’!

Roll on March 2019, and after many months of SKYPE calls, emails, Garda vetting of volunteers and navigating labyrinthine forms for EU projects, we were part of an exciting partnership and on our way to the lovely town of Corella in the the region of Navarra. In the intervening period, Cyclist.ie had teamed up with Green Schools Ireland, and the other project partners were Frie Fugle and Cycling Without Age from Denmark, a youth association (LAG Suduva) from Lithuania, and the Alhama High School and Biciclistas de Corella in Spain. Crucially, on board with the adults from the cycling and environmental organisations above were school children from all four participating countries – around half a dozen from each. The pupils from Ireland came from St. Tiernan’s Community School in Dundrum. The adults comprised Dr. Damien Ó Tuama from Cyclist.ie, Jane Hackett from Green Schools, Martina O’Shea linked to the school, and Allison Roberts from Clonakilty Bicycle Festival (who was joined by her partner Justin and three year old Ari, all of whom were on bigger bicycling and camper-van adventures in Spain and Portugal at the time!).

All 40+ participants who travelled to Corella were treated to a wonderfully diverse and amazingly action-packed week of activities. We have to say that the crew from Biciclistas de Corella were the best hosts ever! Each day was jam-packed with formal and informal, indoor and outdoor, day-time and night-time activities of every type imaginable. Some of the highlights included a tree planting workshop, a lovely 40km cycle through a farming region to Fitero, a trip to the Bardenas Desert with a picnic and barbeque afterwards, a dancing workshop, a pottery-making session, singing jotas with the residents of the nursing home and then heading out with them on a Cycling Without Age trishaw, evening time dinners with home-made food provided by locals, visits to wineries, a trip to Pamplona and visiting the palace of Navarra, tortilla-making workshops, meeting the Mayor of Corella, visits to cathedrals….. and lots of presentations on cycling and cycle tourism. It is exhausting listing even some of our activities! Most importantly, we got a lovely warm welcome from the hosts and from everyone we met in the school and on our trips.

The first project meeting definitely succeeded in getting cycling campaigners and school pupils from four quite different countries swapping ideas with each other over the course of the week. It was educational, sociable and a breathe of fresh air for us all. Take a bow Toño, Cristina, Quique, Chivvy and team!

The next ‘mobility’ or trip for the project participants will be to Dublin in June and – as per the funding application submitted over a year ago – the plan is for the group to be here during the same week as the Velo-city Cycling Planning Conference at the end of June. As far as is possible, we will aim to knit into some of the Velo-city events such as the Cycle Parade and other side events, and Toño Peña himself will be presenting at the conference. Further trips will be to Copenhagen in October and Lithuania in mid 2020 – and then there will be a additional trip back to Ireland in 2021 and we are exploring the idea of heading to Clonakilty for the bicycle festival!

To hear more about the project, pop along to the public meeting of Dublin Cycling Campaign taking place on Monday 8th of April – details here – and/or get in contact with Cyclist.ie’s National Cycling Coordinator.