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Cyclist.ie at World Cycling Alliance 2022 AGM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other initiatives of WCA include: 

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Business / Organisation Member – Lime

Cyclist.ie is delighted to have Lime joining as our latest Business / Organisation member.

This membership type for Cyclist.ie is available for those businesses and organisations who support our aims to make the cities, towns, villages and roads of Ireland bicycle-friendly for their employees, customers and their community. 

Lime joins Dropbox and the Irish Heart Foundation (amongst others) who support the advocacy work of Cyclist.ie / Dublin Cycling Campaign as Business / Organisation members. Lime join as a “Gold” category member. 

Lime is the world’s largest shared electric vehicle company. Its mission is “to build a future where transportation is shared, affordable and carbon-free”. See here

More information on our Business / Organisation membership scheme at:

https://cyclist.ie/membership/join-cyclist-ie-business/
and
https://www.dublincycling.com/businessmembers

CYCLIST.IE SUBMISSION ON NATIONAL ROADS 2040 DRAFT STRATEGY

Cyclist.ie – the Irish Cycling Advocacy Network
The Tailors’ Hall
Back Lane
Dublin, D08 X2A3
www.cyclist.ie
RCN 20102029
Date – 14 Oct 2022
 

1 – Introduction

Cyclist.ie, the Irish Cycling Advocacy Network (ICAN), is the federation of cycling advocacy groups, greenway groups and bike festivals on the island of Ireland. We are the Irish member of the European Cyclists’ Federation.  Our vision is for an Ireland with a cycle friendly culture, where everyone has a real choice to cycle and is encouraged to experience the joy, convenience, health and environmental benefits of cycling. 

Cyclist.ie welcomes the opportunity to respond to the public consultation on NR2040. However, we are very disappointed in the limited options for submission of comments in this form – and with the word limit here which limits the ability to respond to the consultation. 

We welcome the broad “NIFTI approach” where the intervention hierarchy is (in this order):

Maintain > Optimise > Improve > New
And
Active Travel > Public Transport > Private Vehicles.

2 – Main Points

What the draft does not set out clearly enough is how exactly, with figures underpinning the strategy, NR2040 and investment priorities ensuing from it will align with the overarching aim of the Government’s Climate Action Plan, which sets a 51% reduction in overall greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and sets Ireland on a path to reach net-zero emissions by no later than 2050. The section on Decarbonisation (5.1), referencing the EPA Ireland’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions Projections, 2021-2040 (June 2022), states the following:

“Emissions from the sector are estimated to reduce to 39% below 2018 levels by 2030 if additional measures in plans and policies are implemented, including significant EV share by 2030 and measures to support more sustainable transport.”

However, in the 2022 OECD report entitled Redesigning Ireland’s Transport for Net Zero: Towards Systems that Work for People and the Planet, (Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/b798a4c1-en), two of its key findings are as follows (pages 8 to 9):

“The Irish transport system fosters growing car use and emissions by design, and is thus unfit to enable the country to meet its greenhouse gas reduction goals while improving well-being. Growing car use in Ireland is largely determined by car-dependent transport and urban systems, organised around increased mobility and characterised by three unsustainable dynamics: induced car demand, urban sprawl, and the sustainable modes low-attractiveness trap.”

and 

“Aiming at decarbonising the system via private vehicle improvements is unlikely to lead to substantially different patterns of behaviour, rapid emissions reductions, and large well-being improvements. Car-dependent systems make rapid electrification slow and difficult, by locking-in large and growing vehicle fleets. Even with improved (and fully-electric) vehicles, they also fail to reduce lifecycle emissions, address accessibility gaps and other negative impacts (e.g. road fatalities).”

The same report recommends the following (page 9):

  • Redefine the goal of the transport system as sustainable accessibility.
  • Prioritise the up-scale of policies with high potential to transform the car-dependent system.
  • Redefine the electrification strategy to support the transition towards a sustainable transport system.
  • Embrace a systemic approach to policy decision-making across government departments.

It is our view that the current NR2040 strategy needs to engage with and respond to these recommendations.

In short, the final / adopted version of the NR2040 strategy needs to respond fully to the newly published OECD analysis.

It also needs to set out how the implementation of the strategy will contribute, in concrete terms, to the steady decarbonisation of the Irish transport sector over the years and decades. This needs to be set out in quantitative terms.

OUR SUB IS CONTINUED ON ANOTHER FORM – VERY FRUSTRATING FORM WITH ITS WORD LIMITS.

—————–

THIS IS PART 2 OF THE CYCLIST.IE SUBMISSION. VERY FRUSTRATING FORM WITH ITS WORD LIMITS.


3 – Conclusion

NR2040 needs to articulate much more clearly how the strategy objectives and investments will lead to a reduction in carbon emissions – and not simply rely to a very large extent on assumptions that the electrification of the car fleet will solve most of the problems in this domain.

Please acknowledge receipt of this submission. Thank you.
[email protected]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vancouver Bus and Cycle

Many cities are currently struggling with their transport infrastructure. There are multiple issues and conflicting pressures to deal with. The present study offers a brief overview of one Canadian city: Vancouver1

The single biggest transport issue is usually seen as car dependency2; this is true all over the world, but nowhere more so than the North American continent. Some of the relevant aspects of Vancouver are:

  1. Coastal city: this brings a maritime climate, which avoids the cold winters characteristic of many other Canadian cities
  2. High Density: the city centre is characterised by many high-rise buildings
  3. Wide roads: this allows for four lane roads, and also reasonably wide pavements
  4. Diversity: Vancouver is diverse, in many ways: ethnically, culturally, demographically and economically
  5. Transit: Vancouver has a fairly good “sky-train” network (only partially elevated), which offers a handful of lines that offer basic cover of the city, and out to some of the suburbs3
  6. A dense and efficient bus network

Vancouver city centre, like most other North American cities, is laid out in a regular grid structure. This means a large number of similar junctions, almost all conventional traffic light controlled cross-roads. Catering for the diverse needs of public and private motorised traffic, cyclists and pedestrians is, in general, notoriously difficult. Vancouver deals with these problems with a particularly simple traffic light system: when the traffic light is green for one way, the pedestrian light is also go (white) for the same way. Turning traffic is required to wait for pedestrians; this applies both to left and right turning traffic.

Pedestrian crossing on (white) pedestrian light; straight on traffic in the same direction is “green” but turning traffic must wait until clear

This means that traffic behind the waiting, turning, vehicle is also waiting, but the two-lane road means that straight-on traffic is not usually delayed.

Significantly, the pedestrian waiting time is lower, and the walk time (time you can walk) is higher – than more highly segregated systems common in Europe.

Also significantly, this means the buses than ply generally straight up and down the major roads, are less delayed by lights than their European counterparts.

Arguably, this system is dependent on a highly traffic regulation compliant population, which is possibly the case in Canada, more so than some other jurisdictions.

Public Transport Ticketing

The majority of users, including tourists, use a “Compass Card” to “touch” on buses and the Sky-train. Like similar systems elsewhere, you only “touch on” on buses, but have to touch both on and off on the Sky-train. Compass cards can be bought and topped up etc. at machines at every Sky-train station. Recently, it has also become possible to use credit cards. Cash also is used occasionally.

Bus Features

It is very obvious that buses are much used by senior citizens and those less physically able, including wheelchair users. The bus includes a hydraulic fold up and down ramp than can be quickly deployed for a wheelchair, as on the right.

There is also a cultural element to this: when a wheelchair user is boarding, other passengers move out of the way, vacating fold-up seats to make space for the wheelchair.

Bus ramp used by wheelchair user

Buses operate a conventional two-door system, where you board at the front and exit from the middle door. It appears acceptable to exit from the front also e.g. when the bus is full. There is a touch pad for fare payment at the front door.

It is not uncommon to see one or two people board from the middle door, where there is also a touch pad, but this appears to be done to evade payment. Interestingly, drivers do not seem to attempt to intervene, perhaps because the subsequent disruption and delay would represent a worse outcome than the loss of the fare.

Bus stops are quite closely spaced, and are placed just after junctions, which offer slightly reduced delay4

Buses also feature a front mounted cycle carrier, for perhaps a couple of bicycles, see above. This shot also shows the on-street cafe, common in the city centre; this goes a long way towards “humanising” the street.

Bus Power Source

Buses use overhead power-lines, which provide low voltage direct current. This offers a system that is both energy and space efficient: electric engines are much smaller – and quieter – than internal combustion engines. They also offer better acceleration.

This does mean a somewhat cluttered “sky-scape” of overhead wires

The overhead wires characterise buses as semi-guided, as they can move sideways somewhat i.e. to move lanes, but cannot operate detached from their power source. There are plans to introduce electric buses with battery backup, which will offer flexibility e.g. to divert round road works or temporary road closures5. Some diesel buses are also used.

Bus Information Technology

Buses include a visual and audio indication of the next bus stop; a stop will not usually stop unless either there are passengers waiting to board, or a passenger has requested the next stop, which is common elsewhere.

Most bus stops only show the number of the bus service(s) offered at the stop; no real-time information is given. However, every bus stop has a unique code; if this code is sent as a text to a number shown on the bus stop, the time of the next bus(es) is returned; this obviously requires a passenger to have a phone and be willing to use it. Apps offer the same and more information, but this requires a Smart-phone and the use of mobile data, hence is less likely to be useful to an overseas tourist.

Most buses seem to be sufficiently frequent that even this modest effort is largely unnecessary.

By devolving the point of use system to the users’ phone, the IT systems become cheaper to install and supply, as the distributed part of the system, always the most difficult and expensive, is externalised.

Vancouver Cycling

In the city centre, cyclists are evident on all roads, although not in large numbers. Certain roads offer a bi-directional cycle lane, placed every few roads, in the grid structure.

Cycle lane seen across junction in green; also marked with a bicycle symbol on ubiquitous street signs, show US style, high up, placed in the same direction as the street they identify

Such roads are thereby reduced to one lane each way, with perhaps a single line of parked cars also.

Since wheeled traffic and pedestrians use the same traffic light system, the addition of cyclists does not need additional signaling. However, it is not clear how a cyclist might turn onto or off a cycle lane, nor exactly how pedestrian and cycle traffic interact.

Off-road i.e. non transport oriented cycling is very popular e.g. in Stanley Park, undoubtedly the jewel in Vancouver’s “Green” crown. In fine weather a nearly continuous stream of cyclists is seen, many on rental bikes. This route is one-way only for most its length.

Increasingly, other forms of non-vehicular traffic are seen; these include electric bikes, electric scooters, roller skates, hover-boards etc. Some of these move quite quickly and present new and mostly unexplored issues.

Overall, although there is some visibility of cycling in Vancouver, it seems unlikely that levels are high enough to manifest the well-known safety-in-numbers effect6

Cycling interests are promoted both officially7 and unofficially8

Conclusion

Even at a casual glance, it is obvious that Vancouver has got something important “right”, at least compared to other North American cities. This is obviously no accident, and is only so, and will only remain so, if the necessary political will is present.9

The core features of the city and its built, IT and social infrastructure that seem the most important are:

  1. Frequent and reliable buses and Sky-trains i.e. every 5 – 10 minutes for at least 18 hours of the day
  2. Dense i.e. high-rise city centre accommodation, where people can live a connected life without needing a car
  3. A tolerant society, where the less able feel confident to get out and about and use public transport easily, and all users feel safe
  4. Good Information Technology, in printed material, in display systems, in ticketing, in Apps, in websites
  5. Cycling is fairly well supported, although not yet all that popular
  6. Diverse use culture e.g. a) cash is rarely used but is still acceptable b) having a Smartphone and being able to use it confidently is an integral part of most peoples’ use of public transport, but is not essential to use the services c) Lifts, ramps and / or low-floor buses are available for the less physically able

Further Comments

  • It is obvious that there are fewer cars than are seen in other car dependent jurisdictions, both parked on-street and in motion; were this not so, it is doubtful that Vancouver would be as successful as it is
  • From a European perspective, four lane roads would generally be seen as undesirable in a city centre; Vancouver seem to have made this work quite well, apparently by a combination of limited on-street parking, frequent buses, frequent on-street cafe spaces and periodic cycle lanes
  • Anecdotally, the city “feels” reasonably safe; not that streets are quiet, more that noise and activity seem harmless
  • This short paper was based only on a brief visit; there is clearly scope for further investigation
  1. City of Vancouver transport portal: https://vancouver.ca/streets-transportation.aspx []
  2. Revisiting car dependency: A worldwide analysis of car travel in global metropolitan areas, Pedram Saeidizanda / Koos Fransenb / Kobe Boussauwb, Elsevier, Volume 120, January 2022, 103467 []
  3. All public transport in Vancouver is managed by: https://www.translink.ca/ []
  4. Transit Design Manual: https://www.bctransit.com/documents/1507213895398 – 2.1 []
  5. Bus transit modernisation: https://www.kiepe-electric.at/electric-buses/trolleybuses/references/vancouver-canada []
  6. Safety-in-numbers: An updated meta-analysis of estimates, Rune Elvika / Rahul Goelb, Elsevier, 2019 []
  7. City of Vancouver: https://vancouver.ca/streets-transportation/biking.aspx []
  8. Vancouver Cycle Campaign Group: https://bikehub.ca/ []
  9. Environmental determinants of cycling, Samuel Nello-Deakin, Elsevier, 2020 []

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.



Cyclist.ie – the national Cycling Promotion organisation

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