Category Archives: Irish Posts

Ireland, see also NI

Cycle for Palestine 19th and 20th June

Cyclist.ie and all our members are supporting medical aid for Palestine, by cycling next weekend the 19th and 20th of June.  All you have to do is organise your cycle, by yourself or with friends, and collect any small donations which you can donate directly online to the medical relief fund via the link https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/muhannedb.  Cyclist.ie is delighted to support Islamic Relief in this Cycle for Palestine Challenge. These fundraising cycles can be done individually or in groups anywhere in the country. 

For more details see here or the enclosed booklet.

Our ‘Vision for Cycling in Rural Ireland’ Gains Momentum

Last September (2020) the Cyclist.ie Rural Cycling Collective officially launched our Vision for Cycling in Rural Ireland with the 8 priorities which we believe will enable more people in rural Ireland to cycle more often for everyday journeys.

Since we launched the Vision we are pleased to see changes have been made, linking to each of our 8 priorities. Some of these changes are big, others small but we believe all changes in the right direction are worth celebrating.

Below is a summary of the 8 priorities and what’s happened so far as of mid-2021.

1 – Create an environment in our cities, towns, villages and rural roads where Cyclists are Expected and Respected.

There is a growing recognition that,in addition to dedicated cycle lanes and tracks, there is huge potential to create environments in our urban and rural areas where people on bicycles feel expected and respected. Glimpses of this welcoming environment have been seen in a number of different towns and villages such as Ennis, where they redesigned the streets to create more space for active travel; Clonakilty where they removed motor traffic from some streets; Kilkenny where they introduced traffic calming measures; many towns where they introduced lower speed limits; and across the country where signs such as the 1.5m safe passing distance signs have been installed.

Within and between many towns and villages, cycle friendly infrastructure could include identifying safe routes along the existing smaller rural roads. With extra signage, traffic calming measures and lower speed limits, these “Rothar Roads” would allow people in rural areas to have the opportunity to cycle to schools, shops, work, and amenities knowing that they are ‘expected and respected’ by all road users. Community based projects have been started to identify and map these for example the ‘Share your Rothar Roads project in Leitrim.

2 – Create and map a network of useful, Connected Cycle Routes throughout Local Authority Areas

The Rural Cycling Collective knows that quality network planning is key to quality cycle infrastructure, securing funding, garnering support, promoting cycling as a real alternative and so much more. In December applications opened for a €50M active travel fund for towns and villages, which was subsequently increased to €70million due to the volume of requests. In March the projects were announced. Several counties have received funding for transport studies including: Monaghan where they have drafted a Cycling & Walking Strategy; Kerry, where both Tralee and Kilarney will get interconnected cycleway networks; and Leitrim, where a County Cycle Network Plan Study is being planned. We hope this is the start of network plans being created in every local authority area. 

Photo kindly provided by Cycle Sense, Skibbereen


3 – Implement Best Practice Design to ensure routes are safe and comfortable for cyclists of all ages and abilities

In January the Department of Transport announced the creation of 248 new active travel posts 218 in local Authorities and 30 in TII Regional Design Offices – see the story on our website here. In announcing these posts, Minister for Transport, Eamon Ryan said that the new structure for the delivery of active travel is intended to “ ensure that the increased levels of expenditure planned deliver the right type of infrastructure, in the right place and at the right time.”  

The new posts are yet to be filled but the Rural Cycling Collective are pleased to see the emphasis is on creating multi-disciplinary teams that acknowledge the complexity of reallocating road space and the need for not just engineering and architectural skills, but also communication and promotion. We hope that these new posts will help raise standards across the country.

Cyclist.ie also note that the National Transport Authority are expanding their team to ensure they have the capacity for oversight of all the new active travel schemes. Simultaneously a review of the National Cycling Design Manual is being undertaken – another welcome step. 

A team within Cyclist.ie have also been busy the last few months creating an ambitious tool to be used as part of the design process to help ensure that none of the 5 needs of cycle route design (coherence, comfort, directness, attractiveness and safety) are overlooked. The latest prototype is currently being trialled and Cyclist.ie would welcome your feedback. To find out more about the Cycle Route Assessment Checklist (CRAC) and to get involved in trialling it follow this link – https://cyclist.ie/crac/.

4 – Prioritise Safe Cycle Routes to Schools and car free zones at school gates

The school year began optimistically with Cycle Buses popping up and more and more children cycling to school everyday. Some of these were inspired by the Rural Cycling Collective’s Get to School on Your Own Fuel campaign which saw families practising their routes to school before the September rush. 

Safe Routes to Schools became an issue on many people’s minds. In March, Minister of State, Hildegarde Naughton, announced the allocation of €15million for the Safe Routes to School programme – see here. Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council have initiated a safe routes to school project with widespread consultation. We look forward to seeing similar schemes in other Local Authorities.

 

5 – Lower Speed Limits to make our roads and streets safer and more accessible for everyone, and to reduce casualties

Lower speed limits are a simple but vital way to make our roads and streets more accessible and safer for children, pedestrians and cyclists.  Love 30, the campaign for 30km speed limits, issued a press release in April, calling on the Minister for Transport to mandate a default 30km per hour speed limit in urban and built-up areas and outside schools – see https://www.love30.ie/call-default-30-kmh-all-urban-areas

Kilkenny County Council are set to introduce a Gateways project at the entry points into the city – within this area a 30km/h speed limit is to be applied. Dublin City Council are also introducing reductions in speed limits which again we hope will be an inspiration to local authorities across the country – see here



6 – Ensure clear and timely Access to Funding by improving capacity at all levels of local and national government

A few months before the Vision for Cycling in Rural Ireland was launched it was announced that the new Programme for Government included a commitment to allocate €360M per year in capital funding to walking and cycling over the next 5 years. This was an exciting announcement and the strongest endorsement towards Active Travel ever seen in Ireland.To find out more about the detail of this commitment check out the full Programme for Government here.

This progressive announcement has been followed up with subsequent rounds of additional funding – further welcome steps forward in the country’s commitment to taking climate action. 

7 – Collaborate with all Stakeholders including cycling and community groups – at all stages of planning and design

If the promises in the Programme for Government are to lead to meaningful change, collaboration with all stakeholders is going to be important – the right people need to be asked the right questions at the right time

In Skibbereen, collaboration is happening between cycling activists, councillors, local engineers and the local community.  A  recently formed Greenway group is looking into the permeability of Skibbereen, connecting the town within. Mapping is being developed to link schools and amenity areas with households and shops (for more info contact [email protected]). More information on this can be found by emailing [email protected]

Photo kindly provided by Cycle Sense, Skibbereen

Stakeholders have also come together from various organisations in Kilkenny, including Kilkenny County Council, Kilkenny LEADER Partnership, Kilkenny Recreation and Sports Partnership, Healthy Ireland and Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) to work collaboratively on the CycleKilkenny project. The group has been working closely with Kilkenny Cycling and Walking Campaign group. See here.    

Cyclist.ie’s ambitious Cycle Route Assessment Checklist (CRAC – http://cyclist.ie/crac/) has the aim of enabling a wider range of stakeholders to get involved in the design process. A perceived lack of ‘technical know-how’ and a lack of time can prevent ordinary people from participating in public consultations and assessments. It is envisaged that this user-friendly checklist will give people a quick, simple and meaningful way of allowing their voices to be heard.  The National Transport Authority and a number of Local Authorities are now trialling this tool.

The Stop Climate Chaos coalition of which Cyclist.ie is a member has been holding a series of workshops about aspects of the Climate Plan. On Tuesday, May 4th the Rural Collective had an opportunity to input to the workshop on Transport. On behalf of the Collective, Joan Swift explained how implementing the Rural Vision could contribute to reducing emissions from transport.  She stressed that in Rural Ireland, as elsewhere many trips currently done by car are short and lend themselves to active travel. Cyclist.ie submission on the Climate Action Plan can be read here: here.    

8 – Provide Cycle Training for all ages, especially children

Under a national program Cycle Right (https://www.cycleright.ie/), is being rolled out across the country, run by Cycling Ireland. 

Cycle Training is an important piece of the jigsaw to build a culture of cycling. It improves bike skills and road awareness. For some children it is the first real opportunity to use a bike. Cycle training combined with quality cycle infrastructure, Safe Routes to schools. and a reduction of speed limits will provide opportunities for young people to gain the confidence they need to be able to cycle safely, not just to school but as they grow and gain more independence, to meet friends, to go to college, to work – it really is a skill for life.  

Outside of schools we have also seen cycle training sessions for families (e.g. the Sligo Cycling Campaign Family Fun Cycle) as well as sessions for teenagers wanting to cycle on road and for parents wanting to steward cycle buses (e.g. the Leitrim Cycling Festival Cycle Confidence Programme).

And finally, to spread the love of bikes and work towards their manifesto goals the Rural Collective launched #RotharRides in February of this year. These take place on the first weekend of every month and are fun cycles that everyone can get involved in by simply enjoying a ride in their local area. Already we’ve seen rides happening from Donegal to Clonakility and many places in between. 


Despite the pandemic we have a lot to be positive about. 

The Rural Cycling Collective which only formed last summer has been busy building momentum, bringing media attention to the potential of everyday cycling in rural Ireland and creating something well worth shouting about! 

We can’t wait to see where the roads will take us next!


Note: Further images below kindly provided by Luciana Prado.

Call for cycling ‘superhighways’ & less car use to cut transport emissions

The development of “cycle superhighways” in major cities where there is greatly-curtailed private car use, transport-led housing plans and increasing road charges are recommended in a new report by the Oireachtas Climate Action Committee.

Ireland should fundamentally redirect transport policy and apply the internationally recognised “avoid-shift-improve” approach to cutting emissions in the sector, according to its report issued on Thursday.

Full article (Irish Times)

Cycling is my Superpower – Polish Embassy in Ireland Initiative

Cyclist.ie is delighted to spread the word about the fabulous Cycling is my Superpower initiative being promoted by the Polish Embassy in Ireland.

We have always maintained in Cyclist.ie that cycling gives us extra powers, so it is great to have that endorsed by the Polish Embassy.

Check out the information below, including details of how to win a bicycle of your dreams!  

ATTENTION ALL CHILDREN age 6-10 living in Ireland!!

Celebrate Children’s Day (June 1st) and World Bicycle Day (June 3rd) with us and take part in an art competition CYCLING IS MY SUPERPOWER!

The main prize is a bicycle of your dreams!
Watch this video to find out more:

We are calling on all children aged from 6 to 10 to take part in an art competition: Cycling is My Superpower! The main prize is a bicycle!

If you live in Ireland and attend Senior Infants, 1st, 2nd or 3rd class and you like both cycling and art, then this competition is for you!

Create your own artwork related to the theme Cycling is My Superpower!

It could be any type of drawing/painting in A4 size – done in pencil, charcoal, pen and ink, crayon, markers, pastel, watercolour, gouache, acrylics, oils, poster colour or collage.

What’s important is that you do the work yourself and that this is your original idea.

Don’t forget to sign your name at the back of your artwork. Also, ask your parents / guardians to fill out an entry form for you.

Send both the artwork and the entry form by post before Monday, 21 June to the following address:

Polish Embassy in Dublin
5 Ailesbury Rd,
Ballsbridge,
D04 W221

At the Embassy, we will select the 30 best works and upload them online for a popular vote on Embassy’s Facebook page. The winner will be announced on June 30th!

More info on the competition, Entry Form and Competition Rules are available at:

Website: www.gov.pl/ireland/cyclingismysuperpower
Facebook: https://fb.watch/5RKvoSlvyG/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/PLinIreland/status/1399648785056387072?s=20

Have a great CHILDREN’S DAY!!!

CLONAKILTY BICYCLE FESTIVAL CELEBRATES 10 YEARS!

Cyclist.ie is thrilled to see the announcement of the programme of events for the 10th Annual Clonakilty Bicycle Festival.

As always with the Clon Bike Fest, a proper celebration of all things two-wheels is planned! From humble beginnings in 2011, the Clonakilty Bicycle Festival has held true to its organic DIY ethos and become a popular and much-loved town festival over the years, signalling for many Clon people ‘the start of the summer.’ 

Taking place on the second weekend in June every year, Clon Bike Fest has always aimed to be as inclusive as possible, hosting four days of free events involving all kinds of fun with bicycles – from the hugely popular ‘Meals on Wheels’ (a 5 course mystery dinner party on bikes), the annual ‘Cycle-In Cinema’, kids hullabaloo, yoga and picnic events, and the Free Bike Clinic (which grew into ‘The Bike Circus’, Clonakilty’s community bike workshop). 

Memorable events over the years have included: Clon’s first ever ‘Cycle-Powered Cinema’ in 2016 set up in The Venue of O’Donovan’s hotel with four stationary white bikes needed to be constantly cycled to power the film projector; ‘To Will or not Two Wheels’ with a Shakespeare performances on bikes; the birdwatching ‘Estuary Cycle’, and who could forget 2019’s ‘Bikeoke’ in DeBarra’s, karaoke while riding a bike! 

This year, due to public health interests, an interactive line-up is planned, with most events broadcast on YouTube live and solo or family/pod group cycles to be incorporated into the fun.

The festival kicks off with an international welcome and the annual ‘Blessing of the Bicycles’ online. Other events include a ‘Big Kids Public Art Project’ with a competition to create the funkiest craft bikes that will be displayed around the town, a pop-up bike workshop to drop into at Inchydoney, a film screening event live on YouTube, an Art/Music Collaboration between composer Justin Grounds and artist Becky Hatchett, a zoom fractal ride (a zoom group call on bikes!), a wine, chocolate and bikes evening on YouTube with Fionnuala Harkin and Allison Roberts and a final blow-out zoom dance party! 

There is also a 10th Anniversary ‘ZINE!!’ to get your hands on, and a special edition collection of 10 illustrated postcards to purchase, which all helps fund the festival into 10 more years! 

To get involved or to check out the amazing schedule of events, head over to www.clonakiltybicyclefestival.org

National Investment Framework for Transport in Ireland – Cyclist.ie Submission

On Friday last, 28 May 2021, Cyclist.ie made a detailed submission to the Department of Transport on the National Investment Framework for Transport in Ireland, or NIFTI for short. 

According to the department’s website (where you can find all of the background papers on NIFTI:  

NIFTI is the Department of Transport’s contribution to Project Ireland 2040, Government’s long-term strategy for accommodating population growth in a sustainable manner and making Ireland a better country for all of its people. NIFTI has been developed to ensure that our transport sectoral strategy is underpinned by and supports the achievement of the spatial objectives and National Strategic Objectives set out in the National Planning Framework.

So the question is, will the new investment framework be ‘nifty’ in a traditional sense of that word? It’s too early to say because the final NIFTI document is not due to be published until Q3 of this year, but we are doing our best within Cyclist.ie to help shape what the document looks like. 

You can read our full submission below, but the essence of our it is that transport policy-makers in Ireland need to engage far more seriously with the concept of decarbonisation to the degree that we need to have net zero emissions by 2050 across all sectors – and to have a 50% reduction in emissions by 2030, less than 10 years away from now. 

We stressed throughout our submission that transport investment needs to be massively weighted and front-loaded towards active travel and public transport over the coming decades. We raised in our submission the point that the digital revolution in recent years has enabled people to work on screens while travelling on trains or buses, but crucially this is not possible when one is driving. We urged the Department to promote intermobility so that one can travel to/from rural communities in a low carbon way – with the bulk of the distance covered on public transport – and to do this there needs to be proper funding of conveniently located, high quality and secure cycle parking facilities at every single train and bus station (and stop) in the country, and with high capacity facilities at the bigger stations such as one sees in the cities of Utrecht (NL) and Munster (Germany) for example.

Additionally, we made the point that there needs to be serious engagement by the Department and Transport Infrastructure Ireland with the reality of “induced demand” – i.e. that the provision of extra road capacity results in a greater volume of traffic. The evidence for this has been mounting for 25+ years – e.g. see Goodwin’s 1996 paper entitled Empirical evidence on induced traffic. The policy of seeking to expand road capacity is completely at odds with our commitments to decarbonise transport. 

A sincere thanks to our talented team of volunteers who fed into the preparation of our full submission below – all done at rapid pace while juggling lots of other campaigning jobs. Kudos to you all! 

FULL CYCLIST.IE SUBMISSION ON NIFTI

Section 2: Supporting the Project Ireland 2040 Vision

The National Planning Framework has established a clear direction for the sustainable development of Irish society in the coming decades, as articulated by its ten National Strategic Outcomes. How can transport investment support this vision?

  • All of the 10 national strategic outcomes have their part to play. However, the decarbonisation of all transport, both public and private, is the most critical and cross-cuts all broad outcome areas.
  • While the proposed national Sustainable Mobility Policy (SMP) concentrates on public transport and active travel, the scope of this SMP policy needs to be revisited – and broadened out. All private transport and commercial transport needs to decarbonise and become sustainable, not just the active and public strands of it.
  • In considering the proposed transition to Electric Cars, one needs to bear in mind that burning fossil fuels to provide energy for mining, drilling, processing and transportation of materials for battery and other vehicle components leads to CO2 emissions embodied in a typical EV. See https://sitn.hms.harvard.edu/flash/2019/how-electric-cars-can-become-truly-green-once-and-for-all/. Irish transport policies must take into account the energy and emissions costs of creating the vehicle and disposing of it at the end of its life; only considering the emissions when the vehicle is in use does not provide a complete picture. This needs to change.
  • Clear policies on demand management and the suppression of unnecessary motor vehicle travel by businesses and individuals must be implemented in order to increase active and public transport travel and restrain unfettered growth in private/commercial movements.

Section 3: Delivering the National Strategic Outcomes

How can transport investment support the delivery of compact growth in our towns and cities in the coming years?

  • Resource Local authorities with the required professional staff to plan, promote, and implement the necessary projects in line with national policy.
  • Implement major ‘place making’ public developments so as to encourage social and business improvement.
  • Adopt at a national level the 10 minute town / 15 minute city policy with appropriate practical measures.
  • Improve the quality of data collection on traffic movements, both locally and nationally, and include in this pedestrian, cycle and personal powered transport – and intermodal travel.
  • Provide greater resources for road safety research and improvements.  The cost to the economy and society of the yearly toll of road injuries and deaths needs to be more fully accounted for and acted upon. The 2020 International Road Safety Conference ‘Stockholm Declaration’ stated as follows: “Acknowledge that the overwhelming majority of road traffic deaths and injuries are preventable and that they remain a major development and public health problem that has broad social and economic consequences which, if unaddressed, will affect progress towards the achievement of the SDGs;” We must adopt a clear Vision Zero approach to road safety and a safe systems approach to any transport developments in order to reduce economic and social losses. See https://www.roadsafetysweden.com/contentassets/b37f0951c837443eb9661668d5be439e/stockholm-declaration-english.pdf 

How can transport investment enhance regional accessibility in the coming years?

  • Transport investment needs to be massively weighted and front-loaded towards public transport. Of particular relevance here is the digital revolution in recent years which enables people to work on screens while travelling on trains or buses, but crucially which is not possible when one is driving. This point needs to be fully acknowledged when arriving at a new transport investment framework.
     
  • Review transport/freight companies and their locations and possible grant system to encourage coordination of resources and possible relocation of businesses closer to major transport hubs and routes.
  • Provide inter town segregated greenways with adequate width and sealed surfacing to attract commuters as well as recreational cyclists, similar to the European cycle super highways – see for example https://ec.europa.eu/transport/sites/default/files/cycling-guidance/cycle_superhighways_2018.pdf 

How can transport investment strengthen rural economies and communities in the coming years?

  • There needs to be an additional focus on strengthening the local public transport bus system and ensure it connects seamlessly with the rail system.
  • In regard to promoting intermobility so that one can travel to/from rural communities in a low carbon way, there needs to be serious funding of conveniently located, high quality, secure and attractive cycle parking facilities at every single train and bus station (and stop) in the country, and provide high capacity bike parking facilities at the bigger stations taking inspiration from the state of the art facilities which one can find at train stations such as in the cities of Utrecht in Nl and Munster in Germany.
  • Review the practical and economical use of the public transport fleet to improve the effectiveness of transport options particularly in rural areas.
  • Accelerate the implementation of EV charging points countrywide. 

How can transport investment deliver sustainable mobility and encourage modal shift in the coming years?

  • There needs to be serious engagement by DoT and TII with the reality of “induced demand” – i.e. that the provision of extra road capacity results in a greater volume of traffic. The evidence for this has been mounting for 25+ years – e.g. see Goodwin’s 1996 paper “Empirical evidence on induced traffic” – https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF00166218. The policy of seeking to expand road capacity is completely at odds with our commitments to decarbonise transport.
  • Public transport options need to be improved greatly, particularly rail and bus. Currently we do not have a rail “system”, we have mainly a series of radial lines running to / from Dublin.
  • Every local authority in Ireland needs a high quality cycling and walking policy – https://www.bypad.org/
  • In rural Ireland, a policy of ‘rothar road’ development should be implemented in line with the Vision for Cycling –  https://cyclist.ie/ruralvision/
  • Promotion of the use of sustainable transport options needs to be upgraded to counter-balance the impact of car advertising.
  • People who choose to cycle to their destination need to know that it will have secure bicycle parking and that workplaces have drying rooms. State agencies, public services and health bodies in particular have an obligation to ensure that employees and visitors are provided with bicycle parking.
  • The Safe Routes to School scheme announced in 2021 is welcome, but if we are to enable sustainable mobility on the school run, funding in future years needs to be greatly increased as, at the rate of 100 schools per year, it will take too long to cover our 3000 primary & post primary schools.

How can transport investment in surface access support high-quality international connectivity via our ports and airports in the coming years?

  • Again, in the context of decarbonisation, the rail and sail journeys need to be far more seamless and pedestrian / cyclist friendly. To take the example of the trip from Dublin city via Dublin Port and Holyhead to London, the existing trip for pedestrians is unnecessarily fragmented, unattractive and grim. If seeking to promote surface transport, we need to make proximate trips – such as Ireland to Britain – much more attractive.

How can transport investment help us to transition to a low carbon and climate resilient society in the coming years?

  • See many of the points above, but the overarching policy needs to be centred around a radical shift from investment in new roads to investment in public transport and active travel; otherwise our national carbon footprint will continue to expand.
  • Demand management must be implemented to suppress growth in private vehicle travel.
  • Introduce a scrappage scheme for cars to be replaced by e-bikes or e-cargo bikes. Cf. the scheme introduced into France recently whereby car users are given a €2500 voucher for an e-bike. See https://ecf.com/news-and-events/news/electric-bikes-replace-polluting-cars-france-introduces-innovative-scrappage.
  • Last mile low carbon delivery systems must be implemented in towns and cities to reduce need for access for HGVs and large vehicles to town centres.
  • Introduce Zero Emission Zones and low traffic neighbourhoods in towns and cities.
     
  • Introduce a ban on SUVs in city centres – as per the example in Paris. They are too wide, too high and too long for city centre streets, in addition to the emissions and negative road safety impact in relation to collisions with pedestrians.
  • Commission and publish a peer reviewed independent study to assess the impact of reducing speed limits on motorway, N-roads and other roads on transport emissions in Ireland


Section 4: Transport Investment

What challenges and opportunities exist with regard to decarbonising the transport sector?

  • The big challenge is to reduce the extent of car dependency and give as many people as possible the option of alternative sustainable modes of transport and being able to live without owning the depreciating asset that is a car. There is an opportunity there for the Department of Transport to transition into being a leader in supporting people to live car-free through the provision of radically improved public transport, improved conditions for active travel and high quality information to knit everything together.
  • Encourage businesses to have virtual meetings rather than in-person ones.
  • Obviously provide more charging points for electric cars – Norway has an estimated 16,000 charging points – Ireland has a fraction of these but we must ensure that the space for them is reallocated from cars not from pedestrians or cyclists.
  • Complete the updating of the Common Appraisal Framework to take carbon emissions, and all ancillary issues, into consideration when appraising and making decisions on road projects.
  • Introduce road pricing as in Sweden and London.
  • In the future, the extent of flying must be reduced. Short haul flights nationally should be reduced – similar to what the French government is doing.
  • Introduce a frequent flyer tax. Frequent flying needs to discouraged, not incentivised. 

What challenges and opportunities exist with regard to protecting and renewing the existing transport network?

  • In particular the continued upgrading of existing transport hubs and stops to acceptable standards that enables and promotes greater public transport usage.
  • A shift to rail, especially for freight, will reduce HGV damage to roads. 

What challenges and opportunities exist with regard to improving mobility for people and goods in urban areas?

  • Provide high quality segregated cycling infrastructure to agreed high standard under new developed National Cycle Manual guidelines.
     
  • Restrict the movement of private cars in areas of high pedestrian and cycling use.
  • Reconfigure road space to reflect the person carrying capacity of vehicles.
  • Further restrict vehicles such as HGVs and Sports Utility Vehicles which provide an increased threat to vulnerable road users in urban areas.
  • Encourage and facilitate the use of cargo bikes for last mile deliveries.

What challenges and opportunities exist with regard to enhancing regional and rural connectivity, including to our ports and airports?

  • The biggest challenge is improved public transport, including rail transport for freight, to all major ports and airports. It need to be super easy to get everywhere by public transport – currently it is not. 


Do the four NIFTI investment priorities help to deliver the National Strategic Outcomes? Should anything change about them?

We support these four priorities.

However, renewal should refer more explicitly in the documentation to our too-often-forgotten rail infrastructure, not just the road infrastructure. 


Section 5: Further Comments

Do you have any further comments to make on the National Investment Framework for Transport in Ireland?

  • With the requirement to decarbonise transport completely over the next 29 years – really not a lot of time – we have a unique opportunity, and indeed legal and moral obligation, to shift the direction of transport investment in Ireland away from its utterly unsustainable trajectory to one which is in line with the ecological limitations of the planet. We cannot waste this opportunity. 
  • The government’s target is to reduce carbon emission in transport but any new roads will increase emissions due to induced demand (as per Section 3 above). However, some new roads are unavoidable if we are to improve road safety at particularly unsafe locations. The increase in emissions from the induced demand must be offset by investment in additional sustainable transport schemes, which reduce carbon emissions due to change in modal share in the local authority area.
  • SFILT and SIFLT largely reflected 20th century thinking on investment in transport with a ‘roads first’ policy. The suite of documents did include a paper on climate change, but the paper was published before the 2015 Paris Agreement and the 2018 Citizen’s Assembly report. The inclusion of updated reports is welcome as part of NIFTI.
  • It is accepted that decarbonisation of transport is essential to meet national targets on climate action, but the carbon impact of projects must be an essential part of decision making on project appraisal, rather than simply being noted or “taken into account”.
  • Irish engineers generally use a largely UK database such as TRICs to predict the number of journeys generated by private vehicles. However, the result of Ireland emulating a country with one of the highest car dependency rates in Europe (rather than a country such as the Netherlands with one of the lowest), reinforces the status quo and in Ireland in the last twenty years has contributed to flat-lining in the proportion of people cycling nationally.
  • TII sets out the calculation of future demand on national roads for the next 30 years in its Project Appraisal Guidelines for National Roads Unit 5.3 – Travel Demand Projections. As it specifies a growth rate in future years of between 1% and 3% per annum depending on the county and assumed growth rate, TII are in theory designing roads on the basis of up to 90% more trips in 2051 than at present. In recent years TII has published National Road Indicators annually which report the actual growth of traffic on the national road network. Between 2015 and 2019, the actual annual growth of traffic on national roads is even greater than the TII’s highest prediction with some regions of the country experiencing rates in excess of 5% per annum. This gives rise to questions about the sustainability and cost benefit analysis of current road plans.
  • Phil Goodwin, emeritus professor of transport policy at a number of UK universities, has challenged the cost of carbon used in the cost benefit analysis of new roads and also how the increase of carbon emissions from cars using new roads is minimised by comparison to the percentage of overall carbon emissions. This is in contrast with employment, where additional employment, whether for 10 or 1000 new jobs, is welcomed as a positive thing rather than comparing the increase as a percentage of overall employment levels.
  • Neither the Department of Transport nor the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Transport acknowledges in a meaningful way the central role of transport in creating unhealthy communities and the financial burden it imposes on society. If this government is to be successful, the current road projects in the National Development Plan must be completely reviewed with revised appraisals and realistic models to ensure that future investment is in accordance with current government objectives rather than ones that belong in the past.
  • We wish the Department the very best in producing the final NIFTI document – and, crucially, in reconfiguring the direction of transport in Ireland in a properly sustainable way – and we look forward to engaging with you again soon. 

Cyclist.ie Partnering with UCC on Economics Research project

Cyclist.ie is partnering with Dr. Declan Jordan, Senior Lecturer in Economics at Cork University Business School, part of University College Cork, in a research project funded by the Irish Research Council New Foundations Programme

The project is designed to estimate parents’ willingness to pay for safe cycling infrastructure to encourage cycling to school by children and adolescents in an Irish urban setting. The climate emergency, COVID related needs for alternative commuting modes, urban congestion, and concerns over rates of childhood obesity have increased attention on the need for greater levels of active commuting. There is evidence that higher levels of cycling commuting among young people is associated with persistence in sustainable commuting modes into adulthood. This project will contribute to the need for an evidence base for policy making on developing liveable and sustainable Irish cities.

The project will include an original survey questionnaire to be completed by parents of children in selected classes in primary and secondary schools in Cork city. Parents will be asked to indicate their willingness to pay for various models of cycling infrastructure. They will also be asked about their attitudes towards cycling and other forms of active commuting.

The project is the first to use a ‘willingness to pay’ approach to valuing cycling infrastructure in Irish cities and the first to focus on commuting to school by bike. It will provide further evidence on the economic value of investment in safe cycle lanes.

The project will run until the end of 2021 and the findings of the research will be shared with stakeholders and cycling activists.

Dr. Declan Jordan (pictured below) is the principal researcher on the project and will work closely with Cyclist.ie. He is a Senior Lecturer in Economics and a founding Co-Director of the Spatial and Regional Economics Research Centre in Cork University Business School. He is also a cyclist.

Cyclist.ie is looking forward to engaging on the project and helping to make what we hope will be an important contribution to the economics of active travel. 

The Big Lie of Road Planning

The big lie of road planning is that designs are future proofed to take account of future demand. It is true that they are future proofed but they are future proofed on the assumption that use of private vehicles will increase. They are not future proofed in accordance with government policies to decarbonise transport or on health objectives.

Approximately eight years ago, the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (DTTAS) in Ireland developed a suite of papers which led to the Strategic Framework for Investment in Land Transport (SFILT) and in 2015 the Strategic Investment Framework for Land Transport (SIFLT). Both SFILT and SIFLT largely reflected 20th century thinking on investment in transport with a roads first policy. This was despite active travel having been identified as a major contributor to combating obesity and growing concern among public health experts about sedentary lifestyles and the impact on both adults and children. The suite did include a paper on climate change but the paper was published before the 2015 Paris Agreement and the 2018 Citizen’s Assembly report.

In 2016, the DTTAS published the Common Appraisal Framework for Transport Projects and Programmes. Its purpose was

….. to develop a common framework for the appraisal of transport investments that is consistent with the Public Spending Code (PSC) and also elaborates on the Public Spending Code in respect of the appraisal of transport projects and programmes to assist scheme promoters in constructing robust and comparable business cases for submission to Government.

In essence, it set down parameters for the assessment of road schemes based on the roads orientated SFILT/SIFLT. Needless to say, the DTTAS had identified a large number of major road schemes across the country and in 2018 the Common Appraisal Framework was used to justify their inclusion in the National Development Plan 2018-27 and in Project Ireland 2040.

After the general election in 2020, the new Programme for Government included an unprecedented increase in funding for walking and cycling for which all government parties deserve credit. However, since then there has been pushback by officials and politicians who continue to prioritise roads. The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform published a Review of the National Development Plan (Review to Renew) in which the Strategic Investment Priorities list National Roads as the second priority behind Housing and Sustainable Urban Development, but ahead of Environmentally Sustainable Public Transport in fourth place, Climate Action in eighth place and Education, Health and Childcare in tenth place.

The cross-party Joint Oireachtas Committee on Transport adopted a similar line. The Committee claims to accept the objective of decarbonisation of transport to meet national targets and/or that the carbon impact of projects should form part of project appraisal. However, in a submission to Review to Renew, the Chair of the Committee, Kieran O’Donnell T.D., listed the priorities as

(i) The national road network,
(ii) Environmentally sustainable public transport and
(iii) Airports and ports.

The Committee claims that the national road network is the key to regional connectivity, not only for motorised vehicles, but also for cyclists. (Only the 1% of cyclists “brave cyclists” would agree with that statement.)

The Committee also expressed concern that the current Minister for Transport had revised SIFLT and that the revision, now called the National Investment Framework for Land Transport in Ireland (NIFTI) was already being used to assess projects. The Committee welcomed the commitment from the Minister that the NIFTI will go to public consultation and will be approved by the government before finalisation of the Review to Renew but it put down a marker that it intends to engage further with the Minister and his Department on this strategy.

In planning future transport needs, two key steps are the use of databases to estimate current car trip generation and the extension of car trip generation to future decades. In plain English, this means estimating how many trips will result from a proposed development in the current year and how many additional trips will result in the future, typically a period of twenty or thirty years.

Irish engineers generally use a largely UK database such as TRICs to predict the number of journeys generated by private vehicles from a proposed development. However, the result of Ireland emulating a country with one of the highest car dependency rates in Europe (rather than a country such as the Netherlands with one of the lowest), reinforces the status quo and in Ireland in the last twenty years has contributed to flatlining in the proportion of people cycling nationally.

Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) sets out the calculation of future demand on national roads for the next 30 years in its Project Appraisal Guidelines for National Roads Unit 5.3 – Travel Demand Projections. As it specifies a growth rate in future years of between 1% and 3% per annum depending on the county and assumed growth rate, TII are in theory designing roads on the basis of up to 90% more trips in 2051 than at present. In recent years, the TII has published National Road Indicators annually which report the actual growth of traffic on the national road network. The results are shown in Table 1 below:

Year20152016201720182019
Annual Growth4.1%4.6%3.0%0.5%2.5%
Table 1: Annual Growth of Traffic on the National Road Network

Between 2015 and 2019, the actual annual growth of traffic on national roads is even greater than the TII’s highest prediction with some regions of the country experiencing increases greater than 5% per annum. This gives rise to questions about the sustainability and cost benefit analysis of current road plans.

Phil Goodwin is emeritus professor of transport policy at a number of UK universities and some twenty years ago was one of the first academics to report on the phenomenon of “evaporating” or “disappearing traffic“. In an article last year on the appraisal of road schemes, he challenged the cost benefit analysis of new roads and how the increase of carbon emissions from cars using new roads is minimised by comparison to the percentage of overall carbon emissions. This is in contrast with employment, where additional employment, whether for 10 or 1000 new jobs, is welcomed as a positive development rather than comparing the increase as a percentage of overall employment levels.In response to the largest ever road building programme in the UK, he wrote:

The new decarbonisation strategy requires that we will use cars less, by a substantial amount.

A similar reduction is required in Ireland. The Appraisal Guidelines refers to four scenarios – Sustainable & Urban Communities, Global Communities, Dispersed Communities and Car focussed Communities but it appears that local authorities, which are responsible for planning transport infrastructure only concentrate on the last scenario – Car Focussed Communities – in developing their Transport Strategies.

Neither the Department of Transport nor the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Transport acknowledges in a meaningful way the central role of transport in creating unhealthy communities and the financial burden it imposes on society. If this government is to be successful, the current road projects in the National Development Plan must be reviewed with revised appraisals and realistic models to ensure that future investment is in accordance with current government objectives rather than ones that belong in the past.

NOTE – NIFTI is currently the subject of public consultation with a closing date on 28th May. Details at https://www.gov.ie/en/consultation/737a6-national-investment-framework-for-transport-in-ireland-nifti/ .

CLIMATE ACTION PLAN 2021 – CYCLIST.IE SUBMISSION

CLIMATE ACTION PLAN 2021 – CYCLIST.IE SUBMISSION

A large part of Cyclist.ie’s advocacy work is conducted through making submissions to government departments, agencies, local authorities and other bodies in response to public consultation processes. In these submissions we set out Cyclist.ie’s position and make recommendations. 

Yesterday (18 May 2021), Cyclist.ie made a submission on the Call for Expert Evidence for the preparation of the Climate Action Plan 2021. A copy of our submission on the topic of transport is pasted below. 

The overarching context here is the commitment in the 2020 Programme for Government to an average 7% per annum reduction in overall greenhouse gas emissions from 2021 to 2030 (a 51% reduction over the decade), and to achieving net zero emissions by 2050. 

We note in particular that according to the EPA, the transport sector in Ireland accounted for 20.3% of greenhouse gas emissions in 2019. And between 1990 and 2019, transport showed the greatest overall increase in emissions at 136.8%, with road transport increasing by 142.4%.

The direction that transport takes over the next ten years clearly needs to change radically if we are to address the climate and biodiversity crisis which threatens our safe future on this planet.

We need to step up our campaigning.

Image from: https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/images/147659/shadows-from-a-solar-eclipse

Transport 

1 What further policy measures might be required to enable Ireland to meet the CAP 2019 target of 936,000 electric vehicles on the road by 2030? 

We need to be massively increasing the number of electric-assist bikes on the road, and not simply seek to replace a 1500kg+ fossil energy powered car with an equally heavy EV version which itself has a significant embodied energy from its construction and uses scare minerals with significant environment impacts from their mining. 

We need a new transport system, not the same one with electric cars. 

2 Is there scope to increase this target for 2030? What should the new target be? 

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3 What specific measures might be required in the commercial transport sector to encourage a change to EVs or other zero carbon alternatives? 

The initial requirement here is to stop the steady degradation of the Irish rail network so that, in addition to increasing passenger numbers, rail freight can play a serious part in reducing the volumes of heavy goods vehicles on Irish roads. While DART+ is a key element of new rail development, a new full rail review needs to take into account the planned increase in the price of carbon, and hence the new economic calculus of transferring goods to rail. 

Optimise logistics efficiency and reduce freight demand: The reintroduction of the ‘guard’s van’ in addition to the existing rolling stock could provide a flexible solution for transporting smaller parcels/ freight goods along with bicycles, e-bikes and scooters. Introduce parcel hotels at train stations and use the rail network to transport the parcels. 

There is tremendous scope to develop the cycle logistics sector in Ireland, and to transfer over to e-cargo bikes much of the commercial / delivery activity currently happening in urban areas by motorised heavy goods vehicles. For more information on cycle-logistics, see the City Changer Cargo Bike website.

Municipal fleet of the City of Gdynia, Poland
Image from https://cyclelogistics.eu/index.php/about

Note that besides carbon emissions, heavy goods vehicles are very much over-represented in road traffic collision statistics and especially those involving people walking and on bikes. 

Zero-emission urban freight zones (ZEZ-Fs): Well-designed ZEZ-Fs encourage more efficient logistics (reducing the number of trips); a better mix of transport modes (e.g. using shared cargo bikes or light electric vehicles for the last mile of delivery); and a transition of the remaining vans and trucks to zero-emission. 

The Irish government should prioritise zero-emission vans in the upcoming revisions of the CO2 standards Regulation and the Alternative Fuel Infrastructure Directive (AFID). 

4 What additional measures should be considered to promote greater use of public transport or active mobility options? 

Regarding the term “promote”, we believe strongly that we need to go far further than “promote” and to be “enabling” public transport. 

Public Transport 

Funding. After allocating 20% of the capital budget for active transport (see below), the remaining 80% of the capital transport budget should be spent with a  minimum ratio of 2:1 in favour of public transport over road building.

Increase investment in rail with a view to expanding the extent of the network, and increasing the frequency and quality of services available.

Expand the Local Link Bus Services 

Fund / construct conveniently located, high quality, secure and attractive cycle parking facilities at every single train and bus station (and stop) in the country, and provide high capacity bike parking facilities at the bigger stations taking inspiration from the state of the art facilities which one can find at train stations such as in the cities of Utrecht in Nl and Munster in Germany. See the link here (Utrecht):

Implement BusConnects in all of the Irish cities, while using the opportunity to develop high quality cycle networks in all the cities – and in towns. Pilot the introduction of traffic free town centres with only public transport and active travel access. 

Ensure all new urban buses are 100% electric. 

Pilot the potential extension and cost of a free public transport scheme in certain areas to reduce private car use, with a view to developing a nationwide scheme. 

Active Travel 

Funding. Continue to allocate 20% of the land transport capital budget for walking and cycling infrastructure. This will start to make up for the almost complete absence of investments in these modes in Ireland in the latter half of the 20th century and into the 21st century. 

Extend the Bike to Work scheme to include students and unemployed. 

Develop, agree, and ensure compliance with, the new updated suite of mandatory and guidance documents for active travel including the National Cycle Manual (NCM), Design Manual for Urban Roads and Streets (DMURS), and Rural Cycleway Design (RCD). 

Lower Speed limits, with 30km/h to be the default speed limit in built-up areas. 

Segregated cycle lanes with proper treatment of junctions. 

Pavement and cycle lane parking to become as unacceptable as indoor smoking or drink driving. Targeted measures at sporting organisations, event organisers whose supporters/fans are amongst the main offenders. They must tell their supporters that it is quite simply unacceptable to block the access of people walking or cycling and that it may be necessary to park some distance away and walk the last section of their route just as they do to Croke Park on all Ireland Final Day. Just as the Tidy towns competition has a biodiversity section, it should have a “liveability” section where entrants who have uncontrolled pavement and cycle lane parking lose marks. The same should apply to local Authority Tidy Estates competitions. 

Traffic light timings must be adjusted to favour people moving by active means. 

Given that there are 3000 primary and post-primary schools, Safe Routes to School need to be prioritised at more than the current plan for 100 per year. 

Active Travel in Rural Areas / Rural Cycling Vision 

1. Create an environment in our cities, towns, villages and rural roads where CYCLISTS ARE EXPECTED AND RESPECTED. This would mean for example that provision of bike parking becomes mandatory at all public buildings, for example post offices, libraries etc and that provision of bike parking at workplaces and commercial premises becomes the norm. 

2. Create and map a network of useful, CONNECTED CYCLE ROUTES throughout Local Authority Areas LAs must be instructed to think Networks, not isolated segments of routes. This priority is allied to the overall integration of Transport and Planning, to the concept of the 10 minute town and the viability of rural villages. 

3. Implement BEST PRACTICE DESIGN to ensure routes are safe and comfortable for cyclists of all ages and abilities. National oversight of design, otherwise what we sometimes get is unusable and will not contribute to reducing emissions. 

4.Prioritise SAFE CYCLE ROUTES TO SCHOOLS and car free zones at school gates. Increase funding available for routes to school – the school run is one of the prime causes of short car trips. The €15 M allocated this year is welcome, but it will cover just over 100 schools. There are 4,000 primary and post primary schools in Ireland. 

5. LOWER SPEED LIMITS to make our roads and streets safer and more accessible for everyone, and to reduce casualties. Lower speed limits in built up and in rural areas will promote active travel which in turn will lead to a reduction in emissions. It is not feasible to expect people to walk and cycle on rural roads with a speed limit of 80 km/h. It is absolutely essential to introduce a default 30 km limit in built up areas and around schools as agreed by our Government at the Stockholm Convention 2020. You can read the Stockholm Declaration here.  

6. Ensure clear and timely ACCESS TO FUNDING, by improving capacity at all levels of local and national government. Active Travel Teams within LAs to expand – we need to ensure they are multi-disciplinary. The programme announced in January is welcome but many counties are only getting an allocation of 2 extra staff which is not enough to form a team. Consideration should be given to combining resources to form larger teams to serve smaller counties.

7. COLLABORATE WITH ALL STAKEHOLDERS – including cycling and community groups – at all stages of planning and design. Adopt and promote the Cycle Route Assessment Checklist tool (or a version of CRAC) as a national tool to be used as part of the design process by both designers/engineers and people participating in the process – create a common language and common understanding of good quality design and provide a simple way for people to meaningfully input. 

8. Provide CYCLE TRAINING for all ages, especially children. Expand Cycle training budget and number of Cycle Right trainers. Currently only one class (usually 5th) can apply but training needs to start earlier to build the cycling habit and reduce cars/emissions on the school run. A whole school approach to cycle training should be adopted. Transport emissions reduction cannot happen if only one child in a family receives training and siblings still have to be driven to the same school. 

Photo Credit – Luciana Prado

General 

Climate proofing of all proposed public projects must be implemented and seen to be observed. 

Economic assessment of transport projects needs to be more broadly assessed and realistic, and values for parameters such as the ‘value of time’ must be regularly updated to reflect the shift in technology and people’s ability to work while in public transport. This assessment must include the use of the WHO HEAT tool (Health & Economic Assessment Tool), to give full weight to health and societal benefits of proposed projects 

Formalise legislation which encourages greater levels of cycling and makes it safer, as for instance exemplified in the TFL report ‘International Cycling Infrastructure Best Practice Study’ – http://content.tfl.gov.uk/international-cycling-infrastructure-best-practice-study.pdf 

5 What specific policies might be required to reduce overall passenger kilometres driven within the private car fleet? 

The lessons from the Covid-19 pandemic in terms of the ability for many employees to work from home or alternative local hubs need to be acknowledged and  the new practices encouraged. Remote working must be supported.

Introduce a scrappage scheme for cars to be replaced by e-bikes or e-cargo bikes. Cf. the scheme introduced into France recently whereby car users are given a €2500 voucher for an e-bike. See this ECF article on the scheme.

Make the centres of cities car free – as is happening in Paris (see here). 

Expand Safe Routes to School 

Make public transport cheaper especially for families. When making travel choices families don’t consider the embedded cost of driving; they consider that a journey between X and Y will cost €20 in fuel or combined bus fares of €30 and make their choice accordingly. 

Space for public transport needs to be prioritised in towns and cities. 

6 Is there scope to effect a change in the composition of the private car fleet to shift the vehicle mix away from higher emitting classes? 

Introduce a ban on SUVs in city centres – as per the example in Paris. They are too wide, too high and too long for city centre streets, in addition to the emissions and negative road safety impact in relation to collisions with pedestrians. 

Increase taxation levels on higher emitting vehicles even further 

7 Is there scope to further increase biofuel blends rates beyond those already planned under the 2019 Climate Action Plan?

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8 Are there any specific obstacles in the planning system preventing greater modal shift? 

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9 Are there specific further measures that should be undertaken to increase the availability of electric vehicle changing points, whether in public areas or on private property? 

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10 What could be done to make the public sector transport fleets more climate friendly? 

Commission and publish a peer reviewed independent study to assess the impact of reducing speed limits on motorway, N-roads and other roads in Ireland. 


11 What changes should be considered in relation to the management of Ireland’s road network (e.g. reducing speed limits, additional road pricing, or restrictions for specific vehicles in urban areas) to promote emissions reductions? 

12 What other opportunities exist to support the decarbonisation of the Transport sector? 

13 What specific measures could be undertaken in transport infrastructure to address existing and future locked-in climate change impacts? 

See this link here from the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications for more information on the call for expert evidence:

https://climateconversations.citizenspace.com/decc/call-for-expert-evidence-cap-2021/

Bike Week 2021 RESCHEDULED

Bike Week is a celebration and promotion of all that’s great about bikes and cycling. Held over an extended week each year, usually the last week of June, bike week is a collection of bike-themed events organised by local authorities, community groups and cycling groups throughout Ireland.

In 2020 Bike Week was moved to September due to COVID, and the same is happening this year. In 2021 Bike Week will be from Sunday 12th to Sunday 19th September.

Additionally, the Department of Transport have transferred the responsibility for running Bike Week to the Smarter Travel team in the National Transport Authority.

You can find out more at the official Bike Week website, which we understand will be updated at the end of this month. You can contact the Bike Week team directly at [email protected]

Navan Bike Week 2020
Navan Bike Week 2020