Category Archives: Irish Posts

Ireland, see also NI

Hospitals Active Travel Award

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

References:

  1. https://www.fph.org.uk/media/3126/k9-fph-sig-nhs-carbon-footprint-final.pdf
  2. https://www.hse.ie/eng/about/who/
  3. https://www.eea.europa.eu//publications/air-quality-in-europe-2021
  4. https://www.epa.ie/publications/monitoring–assessment/air/EPA-Air_Quality_in-Ireland-Report_2021_-flat.pdf
Picture Conor McCabe Photography
Picture Conor McCabe Photography
PIcture Conor McCabe Photography
Picture Conor McCabe Photography

Business of Cycling Networking Event

Cyclist.ie was delighted to attend the Business of Cycling Learning and Networking event held in the Custom House on Friday 23rd September 2022. 

The event was hosted by Cycling Solutions Ireland and it coincided with the Cycling Friendly Employer (CFE) accreditation being awarded to the Custom House. 

The keynote speaker on the day was Jill Warren, CEO of the European Cyclists’ Federation. Also presenting was Graham Doyle, Secretary General of the Department of Housing, Local Government & Heritage, Ger Corbett, Chief Executive Officer at Sandyford Business District. Sandyford Business District, and representatives from other companies which have recently participated in the CFE process. 

Cyclist.ie wishes to thank Michael O’Boyle and his colleagues from Cycling Solutions Ireland for the invitation. 

In the image at the top are (L to R):
Anne Bedos (Rothar), Damien Ó Tuama (National Cycling Coordinator with Cyclist.ie and An Taisce), Vinny Meyler (Secretary, Dublin Cycling Campaign), Jill Warren (CEO of the European Cyclists’ Federation), Matt McKerrow (CEO, Cycling Ireland), Conor Cahill (Dublin Cycling Campaign), Ellen Cullen (Chairperson of Dublin Cycling Campaign) and Deirdre Kelly (Cycling and Walking Officer of Dublin City Council). 

Efficiency of Space for Different Transport Modes

Kudos to Dublin City Council for organising its ‘Efficiency of Space’ photoshoot early last Sunday morning, 11 September 2022, for which several members of Cyclist.ie and Dublin Cycling Campaign volunteered. 

The images produced are a powerful reminder of how space-efficient bicycles and buses are in a city centre environment. 

The City Council also produced this video as part of the event:

The original image from 1979, which inspired the ones produced this week, was produced by Fietsersbond – The Dutch Cyclists’ Union. You can see that immediately below. Fietsersbond are Cyclist.ie’s counterpart in The Netherlands and a founding member of the European Cyclists’ Federation (back in 1983). 

It’s worth noting the the original Dutch image was produced around the time of the energy crises – and we are back into that political space again now. 

The Dutch image inspired other images such as this one from Munster in Germany:



And this one from Camberra in Australia:

Cyclist.ie would urge other Irish (city based) local authorities to create equivalent images………. and, of course, more liveable city and town centres. 

Cyclist.ie Back in the Electric Picnic

Cyclist.ie and Dublin Cycling Campaign are delighted to be back in the Electric Picnic as it returns to Stradbally, County Laois, after a two year pandemic break. 

We first had our cycling space back in 2009, so this will be our 12th time bringing our bicycle campaigning energies to Electric Picnic.

You can check out some reports on previous EP bicycle spaces here (for 2015) and here (for 2017) for example. 

 If you are heading to EP, do pop over to the fabulous Global Green area and say hello to the cycling network crew. We would love to see you.

At the space, you can find out out how to create a nature-restorative, biodiversity rich greenway, or craft a costume for a bike parade, or just have a relaxed chat!

 

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

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

The Beginning

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

Beginning of Quiet zone Trubarjeva cesta

             

View of Park – Hrvatski Trg

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

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

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Jan Gehl presenting at the Opening Plenary session. 

Highlights from the sessions I’ve attended

Changing mind and Behaviours one ride at a time

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

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

Pitch your idea match-making session

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

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

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

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

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

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

Working towards more gender and equality

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

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

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

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

A group of women posing for a photo

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

Cycling to School: from safer routes to school streets

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

A group of people on a stage

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

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

Health benefits of cycling 

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

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

The technical visit by bike to Ljubljana city centre 

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

City Centre bike tour – the Market Square. 

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

A view of motorised traffic closure in Slovenska Cesta.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In Conclusion

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

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

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

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

Thank you all for making this experience so special!

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



Cycling and Autism

In this piece primary school teacher Dave Tobin and physiotherapist Maeve Howlett outline the immense health, therapeutic and social inclusion benefits of cycling for children with autism. Both have decades of experience and expertise of working with young people with autism in their respective fields.

Children with autism are very often some of the most creative and detail oriented children within the classroom. They are keen observers and are incredibly resilient, accepting and honest. In addition to the huge positives children with autism bring to school and family life, they also have a number of common challenges which may include:

• Difficulty with social interaction
• Delayed or limited communication skills
• Sensory processing difficulties
• Restrictive patterns of behaviour or interests
• Delays and difficulties with motor skills development
• Stereotypical behaviours
• Concentration difficulties

Some of the motor skills problems that children with Autism experience include difficulties with balance, postural stability, joint flexibility and movement speed. The secondary consequence of motor skills difficulties include avoidance of group activities including team sports and therefore decreased opportunity for physical activity and social interaction. We would firmly maintain that our cities and schools must provide support and facilities to allow all children to avail of the right amount of physical activity for optimum health and wellbeing.

Exercise of all kinds increases opportunities for social interaction and improves social motivation and communication for all children but especially for children with autism. It promotes calmness and relaxation while also having clear improvements in physical health. Physical stimulation obtained through body rocking, arm flapping and spinning can decrease with regular daily exercise. As with all school children, physical exertion helps children with autism to complete classroom tasks with increased accuracy. 

Motor Skills and FUNdamental Movement Skills

If we examine motor skills and fundamental movement skills we can very clearly focus on the benefits cycling in particular can bring to children with autism. With many of these children experiencing roadblocks in developing different aspects of their motor skills, the development of physical literacy is a key part of their schooling and life skills development.  hey may need more time and support to learn to cycle but once accomplished their sense of achievement is powerful. The therapeutic and emotional benefits gained are very worthwhile.

The Move Well, Move Often programme (PDST, 2017) has been rolled out in schools in recent years and has a far more skills and assessment focused take on physical literacy than previous physical education programmes. It has been adapted for use by many Special Education Needs (SEN) teachers in Irish primary schools over the past number of years for both individual and group teaching of fundamental movement skills. When looking at these skills it’s important to understand that while they may be given specific instruction during motor skills teaching with children with autism, all of these physical literacy skills are complementary and interconnected. While locomotion and manipulative skills may be easier to teach within a standard school PE hall setting, the stability skills benefit hugely from extra interventions such as horse riding or cycling. 

From Move Well, Move Often – Book 1 (p4)

For many children with autism regulation of sensory inputs can be a particular challenge. They may be overloaded by noisy, busy environments. Proprioceptive (body awareness) and vestibular (balance) sensory senses can often be challenging areas too. This can lead to a more limited ability to explore their environment and, in turn, less opportunity to develop their sensory systems, resilience and relationships with peers. Children with motor difficulties require activities that challenge these systems to help them to improve and develop. They need activities that challenge balance, coordination and motor planning such as cycling to help address these sensory issues. Activities such as these have a hugely calming influence on the sensory systems of children with autism. 

Social Skills Development

Social skills, difficulties with social interactions and making meaningful and lasting connections with peers is a key focus of a lot of school aged interventions. A huge aspect of the teaching of primary school aged children focuses on building and developing these skills. Children with autism have both discrete social skills teaching and social group teaching as part of their school-based interventions. Cycling to school with peers in a group or a cycle bus helps develop a sense of belonging and community with their peers that sits perfectly alongside this. The shared communal routines provide incredible benefits to their levels of social interaction, communication skills and most importantly their self-confidence. 

The importance of cycling to both children’s feelings of belonging and inclusion within a group and their mental health cannot be overstated. This is especially important as children reach adolescence where interests and behaviours develop. A shared hobby such as cycling gives children a sense of belonging and a common interest. It also ensures that the exercise they need to help self-regulate is an enjoyable and communal experience. Having the outlet for their feelings is an especially important part of guiding children with autism through this particular phase of their lives and having a solid peer group such as a cycling group strengthens this resilience.

We know that physical activity rates decrease from childhood to adolescence. Older individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) living in community settings have been observed to live very sedentary lifestyles. If children with ASD do not develop participation skills in active leisure time activities, they will most likely become increasingly sedentary with age placing them at risk of diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers. We must therefore strive to encourage physical activity for these children in our schools and communities.

What can we actually do then to support children with autism to avail of the benefits of cycling?

For these children the interventions we need, while very similar to those of other children, have specific benefits for all children and are cornerstones of good child-centred design.

  • Further investment in services for children with autism that allow physiotherapists and occupational therapists to prioritise adapted physical activity including cycling as an intervention.
  • Further investment in support for children with autism to avail of in-school bike training
  • The development of secondary and connecting cycle network routes that act as quietways (see here for an article on quietways) that reduce sensory overload for children. The importance of the School Streets initiatives cannot be overstated in this regard and should be a key focus for local authorities going forward. There is a huge role for the metropolitan area transport strategies (such as the Limerick Shannon Metropolitan Area Transport Strategy, LSMATS), the National Transport Authority and local authorities in delivering these, and they should be  key recommendations when the draft strategies are being reviewed.
  • The installation of an adequate number of safe, covered bike parking on school grounds including space to accommodate trikes and non-standard bike sizes.
  • An increase in funding for Green Schools transportation projects to enable these changes. 

Support children with autism to learn to cycle and provide the infrastructure to keep them cycling, and they will gain life-long benefits for their physical and emotional wellbeing.  Of equal importance, they will have increased opportunities for meaningful daily social interactions.

Some additional reading:

Connemara Greenway (Stage 2) – Cyclist.ie Submission

Earlier today (Friday 15th July 2022), Cyclist.ie made a brief submission in response to the public consultation on the Connemara Greenway. Once again, a big thanks to our volunteers for the help with this. You can read our submission below and check out the public consultations documents / maps here.  

Route Corridor Options – from the Project Brochure (see https://galwaytooughterardgreenway.ie/publications/)

As the Infrastructural Coordinator of Cyclist.ie, the Irish Cycling Advocacy Network, I am delighted to see these route corridor options for the Connemara Greenway being examined. 

We in Cyclist.ie broadly welcome the progress of the proposals. However we are disappointed that, considering the considerable overlap across many of the options, an accompanying explanatory narrative in relation to the choice and comparison of the differing route sections and options, has not been included with the posted material. Cyclist.ie regards this as insufficient information supplied and makes our comments that more difficult.

Having said all of the above, it is critical that:

1  Both Moycullen and Oughterard are directly served and linked clearly into the chosen route.

2  The chosen route, besides meeting the stated criteria must attempt to reach the greatest local population possible.

3  We have no major preference for a route option other than to omit Option G, which completely bypasses Moycullen.

4  While alignment at times with the major N59 road route will be unavoidable, this should be limited to as little as possible of the alignment while still ensuring that nearby populations are served.

5  Cyclist.ie has been championing the development of local ‘Rothar Roads’ by Local Authorities, to make them safer and more attractive to cyclists and walkers – see here. These roads are also being looked at in the context of the new National Cycle Network. There is no reason why sections of this proposed greenway should not include sections of these wonderful local ‘rothar’ roads?

6  The potential linkage to offshoot cycle and walking routes along the network of nearby country roads will be a major benefit for the area overall, and the potential of these quiet country boreens, or ‘rothar roads’, can open up future opportunities in the area.

Colm Ryder
Infrastructural Coordinator of Cyclist.ie

Pre-Budget 2023 Submission from Cyclist.ie

Cyclist.ie delivered its Pre-Budget 2023 Submission to the Department of Finance (Minister Paschal Donohoe) and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (Minister Michael McGrath) yesterday, 14th July 2022.

You can read it in full as a PDF here or in the body text below. 

A big thanks to our hard-working Executive Committee and wider team for preparing the submission. This behind-the-scenes technical work is but a small part of our broader advocacy efforts to put cycling and walking to the fore in government policy, practice and investment decisions. 

Aggressively Promote Climate Change Requirements

Ensure that at least 20% of Transport Capital Funding is Allocated to Creating High-Quality Conditions for Cycling and Walking countrywide 

1 – Introduction 

Cyclist.ie – the Irish Cycling Advocacy Network, is the umbrella body of cycling advocacy groups in Ireland (https://cyclist.ie/) and the member for Ireland of the European Cyclists’ Federation (https://ecf.com/). Our vision is that cycling, as a mode of transport, becomes a normal part of everyday life for all ages and abilities in Ireland. 

As recognised in the Programme for Government (PfG), cycling as a mode of transport offers numerous well documented broad benefits to society – see below – as well as being ‘the most important tool in combating Climate Change’ (European Executive Vice President, Frans Timmermans, September 2021). Two years on from the publication of the PfG unlocking these benefits has assumed even more urgency.

Firstly, because the war in Ukraine has led to both substantial price increases for petrol and diesel and to anxiety about the supply of fossil fuel in the months and years ahead we need to conserve fuel supplies. Families are feeling the financial pressure, experiencing mobility poverty, transport exclusion and need to be supported to enable them to make short trips by active travel.  As can be seen from the pre Covid 2019 CSO graphic below, private cars are used for 29% of journeys as short as 2km or less.  While 40% walk or cycle these distances, it is still a startling statistic that needs to be tackled.  We need to enable and encourage travel by bike and on foot for shorter journeys, by funding the required infrastructure.

The second reason for prioritising and funding  every possible measure to enable more people to cycle more often, is that enabling cycling is the fastest and most cost effective  means of meeting the targets set for Transport in the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Act 2021.  Cycling infrastructure and fiscal incentives for cycling can be rolled out on a fast timescale and offer a better return on investment than other transport modes, as well as numerous recognised benefits, such as:

● high rates of economic return on investment 

● improved public health 

● reduced congestion 

● reduced greenhouse gas emissions 

● reduced air and noise pollution 

● increased population mobility 

● more liveable and sociable streets and communities

Unlocking these benefits requires continued targeted and sustained investment. Government and Local Authorities must continue to be steadfast in ensuring this value for money and wide social benefits are availed of. 

In summary we are seeking: 

● Continuation of financial support for Active Travel of at least 20% of the Land Transport Capital Expenditure per annum 

● An immediate introduction of supports for the purchase of ebikes including e-cargo bikes on a similar basis to the current SEAI subsidy scheme for electric cars.

● Improvement and complementing the Bike to Work scheme to include students at all levels, unemployed, pensioners, and people with disabilities 

● Resourcing the growth of bike engineering training 

● Other ancillary supports

2 – Taxation and Fiscal Policy Directions to Create Modal-Shift by focusing on the eco-systems surrounding active travel

Continue applying 20% of the transport capital expenditure annual budget on cycling and walking projects – as per the 2020 Programme for Government. This is essential and must be maintained year-on-year. Allocations for cycling development should be accounted for separately from other sustainable transport measures. 

Increase the subsidies for e-bike purchases to ensure greater take-up. Support subsidies for e-bike purchases, especially e-cargo bikes need to be part of the SEAI Grants Package, need to be commensurate with EV grants generally, and need to be widely advertised.

Expansion of the Bike to Work scheme to be more inclusive, possibly with a complementary scheme, with a focus on low earners, students, pensioners, and the unwaged, as well as specific supports for people with disabilities to adapt bikes to their use. The Bike to Work scheme rates should be improved to more realistic limits for E-bikes and  E-cargo bikes, which have the potential to support city/town deliveries, shopping in a greener and more efficient way, and enabling families to transport children.

● Provide support for more bike mechanic training programmes around the country, such as that operated by the Bike Engineering Academy in Pallas Green, Kilcormac, and Kilkenny, and by the Clonakilty Bike Circus. 

Review the VRT levels for all sizes, weights and types of vehicles, to promote  the use of greener and smaller models. Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs) should be specifically targeted for increased VRT. This reflects the increase in road danger for people walking and cycling from the driving of larger, heavier vehicles, which now command 50% of the private car market,  

  • Parking levies legislation to be introduced with a view to encouraging greater sustainable transport use, and curbing car use. For example, a workplace parking levy, as successfully introduced in Nottingham, UK.  
  • Provide increased support for cycle training and education initiatives around the country, through the local authorities / local sports partnerships with particular emphasis on those with lower cycling levels or greater access issues e.g. disadvantaged communities, people with disabilities, females, older adults and migrant communities.

    ● Introduce a scrappage / trade-in scheme similar to France where old cars can be scrapped in exchange for a grant provided for an E-bike / cargo bike purchase 

● The designation of adapted cycles (and all bicycles purchased by people with disabilities) as mobility aids for the purpose of VAT and other financial aid should also be implemented. 

● Provide and promote attractive Mileage / km allowances for cycling, to encourage greater use of commuting and working by bike, similar to what Belgium has done  

● Active Travel funds to be made available for local Authorities to purchase bikes, including E-bikes for elected officials, state and semi-state employees to use instead of cars for applicable journeys. 

● Provide the necessary funding to enable multi-modal trips by ensuring the Connecting Ireland programme includes the provision of covered secure bike parking at all transport hubs and at bus stops.   Continued greater provision of covered secure bike parking for all major transport hubs / interchanges, shopping and service centres, and in particular in schools and colleges. 

Zero rate VAT on bicycle repairs and businesses – to promote the circular economy, create jobs in the green economy, and make cycling more affordable for people of all incomes. Cf. https://ecf.com/news-and-events/press-releases/cycling-organisations-achieve-important-victory-eu-consumers-reduced

  • Provide funding specifically for inclusive engagement that enables local communities and other key stakeholders to co-design solutions, thereby helping to ensure any proposed infrastructure meets the needs of all potential users including women, young people, those with disabilities and people experiencing mobility poverty. 

We look forward to having the above recommendations considered favourably by the Department, and are happy to discuss any of the above in detail at any stage. 

Yours sincerely, 

Neasa Bheilbigh
Chairperson 
Cyclist.ie – the Irish Cycling Advocacy Network
[email protected]  

On the Roads TV Series – Cyclist.ie Input

Cyclist.ie was delighted to be invited to contribute to the recently broadcast “On the Roads with Simon Delaney” series on RTE 1 TV.

In the series, presenter Simon Delaney looked at Ireland’s new Road Safety Strategy which aims to reduce the number of deaths and serious injuries on Irish roads over the next 10 years and to achieve Vision Zero (no fatalities) by 2050. He looked into how we might make travel in Ireland safer, greener, and simply more pleasant, not just for the road users but also for the people living in the areas we move through.  

Amongst the contributors were Jo Sachs Eldridge from Leitrim Cycling Festival (and the Executive Committee of Cyclist.ie) who spoke about the need to create ‘Rothar Roads’ in rural Ireland – a simple concept that would see some of our narrower, lightly trafficked roads redesignated as spaces where people on bicycles are ‘expected and respected’. This would involve a reduction in speed limits, and an introduction of gateway signs and behaviour changes such as approaching blind bends more cautiously with the expectation that there may be someone cycling – all of which could help make these public spaces safer for all road users. Cyclist.ie has been liaising with Transport Infrastructure Ireland on the Rothar Roads concept, and how it might be knitted into the National Cycle Network which is currently being planned. This was shown in episode #4.

Jo Sachs-Eldridge from Leitrim Cycling Festival

Another contribution from a member group of Cyclist.ie was from Liam Frawley from Oranmore in County Galway (also in episode #4). He described the work his group carried out to get protected cycle-lanes on the routes to schools. This involved liaising with the Council, the principals of the four local schools, the Gardaí, the parish priest, over 70 businesses on Main Street, and investigating other schemes such as the Malahide School streets. Quite the epic to get the lanes introduced! Great campaigning work.

Liam Frawley from Oranmore Cycle Bus

In episode #3, Lorraine Flanagan, Senior Travel Officer with An Taisce and also representing Love 30, a member group of Cyclist.ie, made the case for default 30 km/h speed limits around schools and in built-up areas. Lorraine made reference to the 2020 Stockholm Declaration, of which Ireland is a signatory, which includes a commitment to 30km/h speed limits where vulnerable road users and vehicles mix. 

Lorraine Flanagan from An Taisce and Love 30

In episode #2, Kieran Ryan from 15 Minute Westport, another member group of Cyclist.ie, highlighted the disconnect between cycling facilities on the Great Western Greenway and those in Westport itself where so much of the public urban realm is currently used for parked and moving cars. Kieran stressed the need to reallocate space in the town for people on foot and on bikes. This would help to transform the town both for locals and for visitors.  

Kieran Ryan from 15 Minute Westport

All in all, the series made a valuable contribution to the conversations around road safety and making our towns and villages more liveable. It also highlighted how simple many of the solutions are, with lowering speeds and reducing the dominance of motor vehicles on our roads being key parts of any rural or urban strategy. The examples from Sweden, Wales, Spain and Belgium served to illustrate that it is not just the better known ‘cycling countries’ such as The Netherlands and Denmark that are leading the way in making cycling safe and inclusive.

A special thanks here to Mairéad Forsythe (Chair of Dublin Cycling Campaign CLG and from Love 30) and Martina Callanan (Galway Cycling Campaign) for the work carried out in advance of the filming which helped to shape the programmes and the choice of international examples examined.  

The series is well worth a watch on the RTE Player. See here.  

Velo-city 2022 – Cyclist.ie Reports – Jo Sachs-Eldridge

This is the second in a series of articles on the recent Velo-city International Cycling Conference – with this one penned by Jo Sachs-Eldridge from Cyclist.ie’s Executive Committee and Leitrim Cycling Festival.

In her report, Jo presents her reflections on Velo-city 2022. It comprises a mixture of reporting back with interesting facts and figures garnered from the sessions in Ljubliana, but also includes some initial thoughts on how one might apply some of the ideas to an Irish cultural context.

She raises new questions on how one might best seek to regenerate strong cycling cultures in rural Ireland and this ties back to her extensive work of recent years on rural cycling. 

Jo’s report on Velo-city 2022 can be read here.