Cyclist.ie is delighted to announce a collaboration with Cycle Friendly Employer Ireland. CFEI is the only official provider of the EU-standard Cycle-Friendly Employer programme in Ireland. Developed by the European Cyclists’ Federation, the programme is aimed at getting more people on bikes and cycling to work. Together, Cyclist.ie and CFEI support the development of more cycle-friendly routes nationwide and more funding opportunities for cycling.
Cyclist.ie is the national cycling advocacy organisation for Ireland. At present it has 35 member groups countrywide in both urban and rural areas, and engages systematically with national level government departments and agencies, and with local authorities through its local groups. Cyclist.ie was founded in 2008 to advocate nationally for better cycling conditions, and built on the work of its member organisations, some of whom had commenced cycle campaigning over 30 years ago (as reported here). Cyclist.ie is the member for Ireland of the European Cyclists’ Federation and has engaged closely on European transport policy formation, through the ECF, for many years. Cyclist.ie is also a member of the Irish Environmental Network and The Wheel (Ireland’s national association of charities, community groups and social enterprises).
CFE is part of Ireland’s Sustainable Mobility Action Plan. Participation in the CFE scheme helps to:
Decrease carbon emissions
Reduce transport costs
Lower employee absence and improve wellbeing
Demonstrate one’s commitment to the environment and sustainability
Attract and retain talent and customers
The collaboration between Cyclist.ie and CFEI will work to increase awareness amongst companies / organisations in Ireland of the CFE certification framework, and of the campaigning and advocacy work of Cyclist.ie which is helping to reshape transport policy and culture in Ireland.
On the announcement of the alliance, Mairéad Forsythe, Chairperson of the Board of Cyclist.ie, said
“We are at an extremely exciting time in the development of cycling in Ireland. Cycling advocacy plays an integral and important role in influencing how progressive transport policy is developed, and Cyclist.ie is leading the way in recasting transport policy at local and national levels. But companies and other organisations also have a crucial role in influencing how employees commute to work – so Cyclist.ie is delighted to team up with Cycle Friendly Employer Ireland and help to shape how companies think about the development of local transport plans and the provision of cycling friendly infrastructure.”
Meanwhile, Michael O’Boyle, CEO of Cycle Friendly Employer Ireland, said
“Companies and other organisations are now recognising the multiple benefits of having a healthy workforce with more employees cycling to work. It reduces emissions and is cheaper for employers and employees, and improves health outcomes. CFEI helps employers to measure their current cycle-friendliness and implement effective, actionable strategies to help more employees to cycle to work.
Our services include bike pool schemes, insurance, maintenance support and facilities consultation, as well as building community within and between cycle-friendly organisations.
Individual action can have a big impact and we are delighted to team up with Cyclist.ie to promote cycling throughout Ireland.”
All in all, the alliance between the two organisations is a positive move for cycling development in Ireland. Both organisations look forward to seeing – and to contributing to – the development of a strong cycling culture countrywide.
Cyclist.ie is very happy to announce that it is now a member of the Irish Environmental Network. This comes following the recent approval of its application to join.
As set out on its website, the Irish Environmental Network is a network of individual environmental Non-Government Organisations that work individually and, as appropriate, jointly to protect and enhance the environment, and to place environmental issues centre stage in Ireland and internationally. The IEN works to promote the interlinked principles of environmental, social and economic sustainability. The IEN represents to government the capacity building and funding needs of its member organisations, all of whom are involved in one way or another in the well-being, protection and enhancement of the environment.
Underpinning Cyclist.ie’s successful application to join IEN is its not-for-profit and registered charity status, its national remit and its proven experience over many years in conducting high quality and high impact advocacy work in the environmental and sustainable transport spaces.
On hearing the news of its successful application to IEN, the Chair of the Board of Cyclist.ie, Mairéad Forsythe, said:
Cyclist.ie is delighted to be part of the membership of IEN. We bring many years of sustainable transport advocacy experience to the network, and look forward to collaborating with other IEN members over the coming years.
On becoming a member of IEN, Cyclist.ie joins other member organisations such as An Taisce, Friends of the Earth, Cultivate and Feasta. Cyclist.ie already has positive working relationships with many IEN member organisation from running and participating in joint campaigns and initiatives over the years.
News of Cyclist.ie joining IEN comes shortly after Cyclist.ie’s major in person gathering of its groups/branches on 30th September and the 30th Birthday of the Dublin Cycling Campaign group – as we reported on here. Joining IEN represents another step in the growth and development of Cyclist.ie, and in making a bigger impact on public policy and on the culture of Ireland.
Last weekend cycling campaigners from Cyclist.ie groups / branches across the country descended on Dublin to re-energise each other ahead of what we expect will be a busy next 12-18 months of campaigning.
The Tailors’ Hall Gathering (Saturday 30th Sept) Representatives from many of our 35 groups landed into the lovely Tailors’ Hall (An Taisce’s HQ) for a day of debating our campaigning priorities for 2024. We were delighted to have two representatives (Clare and Keelan) there from the newest local group, Gorey Pedestrian and Cycling Association – and with other delegates having traveled from as far away as Skibbereen, Sligo and Gort. And we were even more delighted that Mná na h-Éireann were out in force, with slightly more women attending the meeting than men – and even more women attending the cycle on the Sunday (see below).
The Gathering was especially important since our network of groups had not met since before the pandemic – and there is nothing like meeting in person to have proper debates with one’s peers.
Cyclist.ie Chairperson Neasa Bheilbigh setting the scene for the day – Photo credit: Dave Tobin
To start the day off, we were treated to ten short talks show-casing successful campaigns and initiatives at a local level. These included talks on:
School streets in Galway [Reg Turner, Chair of Galway Cycling Campaign]
Community garden cycles, Miren Maialen [Dublin Cycling Campaign]
Biodiversity themed pedal parades – see poster below [Claire Anne Tobin]
There then followed two engaging sessions – one, gathering our thoughts ahead of the 2024 Local Elections; and the second, exploring the nature of crises and what it means for an advocacy body to be ‘crisis-fit’.
Ger O’Halloran (Dublin Cycling Campaign) reporting back on the breakout session – Photo credit: Damien Ó Tuama
All in all, there were some rich discussions and learnings from the event which we are now digesting, and which the Executive Committee will analyse in more depth over the coming weeks.
How many Brompton bikes can you store in a historic fireplace? Photo credit: Siobhán McNamara
Dublin Cycling Campaign’s 30th Birthday (Saturday 30th Sept) The timing of our Gathering was chosen so as to synchronise with Dublin Cycling Campaign’s big 30th Birthday celebrations. As explained in the press release issued ahead of the party, Dublin Cycling Campaign “emerged in 1993 in response to the systematic omission from official transport thinking of cycling as an essential part of the urban transport system. Cycling, and indeed walking, had essentially been cut out of all of the ‘serious’ transport strategies and investment programmes for several decades”.
The party brought together members and friends of the Campaign going back in time – and we were fortunate enough to have some gorgeous black and white photos from the 1990s taken by Photographer Jim Berkeley on display for the day – many thanks Jim! Additionally, seven of DCC’s 13 Chairpersons over its three decade span came along, and elected politicians from an array of parties at Council, Dáil Éireann and European Parliament levels popped in over the course of the evening to mark the occasion.
A huge thanks to DJ 25Seán who played some fine dancey tunes upstairs in the hall – the perfect way to unwind after a day of meetings!
DJ 25Seán mixing it up for the guests – Photo credit: Miren Maialen
Excitement all round at the party! – Photo credit: Will Andrews
Dodder Cycleway Spin (Sunday 1st October) To top the weekend off and wipe the cobwebs away on Sunday morning, Mairéad Forsythe from Dublin Cycling Campaign led a lovely spin along the Dodder Greenway from Rathfarnham to Kiltipper Park where all the gang enjoyed a picnic – as per the photos below.
Rendezvous point #1 at the Grand Canal: Photo credit: Katleen Bell Bonjean
The Cyclist.ie / Dublin Cycling Campaign gang at Balrothery weir on the Dodder Cycleway – Photo credit: Katleen Bell Bonjean.
Mary Sinnott and Katleen Bell Bonjean from Cyclist.ie’s Executive Committee enjoying the picnic – Photo credit: Katleen Bell Bonjean.
Anne Nospickel and Snoobles taking a break in Kiltipper Park – Photo credit: Katleen Bell Bonjean
Cyclist.ie wishes to thank all of the organisers for their work in making the weekend happen – and all of the delegates and party people for contributing to the events. We also thank An Taisce, The Tailors’ Hall Tavern, and The Right Catering Company for the venue and the fine food served on the Saturday.
We look forward to the next Cyclist.ie in-person gathering which, we hope, will be west of the Shannon in Spring 2024!
Damien Ó Tuama 03 October 2023
Note: featured image at the top of this page taken by Jessica from The Right Catering Company
As we launch ourselves into another year’s campaigning, we have taken some time to reflect on the breadth and depth of advocacy work that Cyclist.ie carried out last year.
In this article, we look back on 2022 through the frame of our 2021-26 Cyclist.ie Strategy (with our six strategic aims shown below) and consider how much progress we have made. In particular, we highlight where Cyclist.ie and its member groups are making a real impact on the mobility culture of Ireland. Note, however, that this article only scrapes the surface of all of the incredible work conducted by our network of volunteers for which we are very grateful. We are happy to receive feedback on this article, either in the comments below or else by contacting our National Cycling Coordinator directly.
Aim #1 – Developing a vibrant and resilient all-island cycling advocacy community (p6 here) The nurturing of a vibrant campaigning community is a central aim for Cyclist.ie. Without new members coming on board, feeling welcome, getting active and collaborating with others in an organized way, it is difficult for our advocacy work to make the impact we are seeking. Thankfully, Cyclist.ie has been led by a super committed Executive Committee of 12 persons (see here) over the last year. It met 11 times in 2022 (almost every month!) and organised two well attended online Council meetings for our group and individual members. While the online meetings worked very well, we are all looking forward to meeting up in person in 2023.
One of the big organisational developments made during the year was the bedding in of our nine Action Groups, formed to help advance particular strands of work in Cyclist.ie. Our AGs, shown below, are each generally based around particular skill-sets (such as finance, IT, communications, people-skills around engaging with ‘the system’ of politicians or officials, engineering / planning, and research) plus advancing the rural cycling agenda (which itself involves a real mix of skills).
In terms of organisational development on the Communications front, Cyclist.ie was delighted to receive the professional input of the Marketing Agency We the People in drafting a brand new Communications Strategy for us. This arose as part of a successful funding application to Rethink Ireland (see below). This support sets us up well for 2023, when we are looking to adopt a fresh approach to getting our message out and engaging in public debates. In addition to this, we posted over 35 original articles to the website, issued 12 action packed newsletters to our 2000+ subscribers, and made many postings to our social media platforms on our core campaigning topics. We comment further on our broader impacts on the public under Aim #2 below.
A crucial part of the development of the organisation in 2022 was the work advanced by the board of Cyclist.ie / Dublin Cycling Campaign CLG around our governance structures and developing a completely new Constitution and Operations Manual. The board met 9 times in 2022, and we are now nearing the end of our journey to arrive at a more fit-for-purpose and modern governance configuration for the organisation. The finalisation of this work will have many positive knock-on effects including ending up with a stronger organisation which is more attractive for members, staff and funders. Additionally, the regulation of our activities will be streamlined and risks better managed. All in all, we will be able to make a bigger impact on public policy and practice with our new arrangements in place.
Funding for Cyclist.ieand for the position of National Cycling Cycling Coordinator has remained a real challenge in 2022, as we set out in this article in November. The uncertainly over funding has been our Achilles’ heel as we seek to strengthen cycling advocacy and make a bigger impact. That said, we scored a great win in 2022 with a successful funding application to the European Commission as part of a consortium applying for Erasmus+ funding on a project entitled Generations Pedaling for Inclusion and Climate Action as set out in this article. Meanwhile our strategic partnership with An Taisce, initiated back in 2013, has continued successfully and it will shortly enter its 10th year. Additionally, we are very grateful to Cycling Ireland for their own support for the National Cycling Coordinator position, and we look forward to engaging with them regularly in 2023. We also acknowledge here the support of Lime in joining Dublin Cycling Campaign / Cyclist.ie as a Business Member – as per this article and the ongoing support of the Irish Heart Foundation.
In 2022, we forged stronger connections with other organisations through formal and informal coalitions. We remain active members of The Wheel, of Stop Climate Chaos and of the European Cyclists’ Federation – and we were delighted to have three Cyclist.ie representatives (Mary Sinnott, Colm Ryder and Damien Ó Tuama) attending ECF’s in-person AGM in Berlin in May as reported on here.
All in all, a lot of ‘behind-the-scenes’ work was advanced in 2022 to improve the organisational structure of Cyclist.ie, put it on a firmer footing and enable us to collectivise the massive energies and skills of our network so that we can make a significant impact on the transport culture.
Aim #2 – Influence the national conversation on mobility and quality of life (p7 here) Our work to change the conversations and discourses around mobility and quality of life take place on a daily basis.
This happens through our social media postings, newsletters and web articles, but crucially we articulate our low carbon vision of the future of mobility through regular contributions to TV and radio programmes and podcasts, and print and online media. Some of the major media appearances included:
Galway School Cycle Bus on What planet are you on?;
RTE’s Morning Ireland regarding the Athlone to Galway Greenway;
Public online meetings are another way in which we disseminate our messages, and Cyclist.ie / Dublin Cycling Campaign planned and ran many successful public meetings during 2022. Some of the more popular meetings with a national and international focus included:
Public Meeting on the Velo-city 2022 conference. See the recording here.
Public meeting on EuroVelo Route #1 held on 15 Nov. See recording here.
Finally, over the last year, we have been creating new partnerships and aligning ourselves publicly with events, projects, groups and individuals with overlapping values and other overarching ‘liveable communities’ priorities – such as with the Hospital Active Travel Awards above.
Aim #3 – Seek to ensure public policy embraces cycling (p8 here) Amongst the most important policy documents shaping what actually happens during a term of government are the Programme for Government and the National Development Plan – and then the annual budgets. Both the PfG and the NDP already include significant commitments for investing in cycling, and the annual allocations for the NTA and TII (and hence to Local Authorities) for cycling are unprecedentedly high. From a policy perspective, cycling is in a far better place than it has been for, perhaps, any other period in the history of the state – and Cyclist.ie has played an important role in this positive change. However, one of the major difficulties we are experiencing in 2022 has been the under-spending of those government allocations by local authorities. We revisit this point under Aim #5 below.
Cyclist was pleased to engage directly with Transport Infrastruture Ireland (TII) on the advancement of plans for the National Cycle Network, and the updating of the Rural Cycleway Guidance design document.We also welcomed the publication of the CycleConnects proposals by the National Transport Authority, and we made detailed submissions on both of these – on the NCN (in June) and on CycleConnects (in November).
Overall, Cyclist.ie made close to 100 written submissions to Local and National Authorities in regard to transport strategies and schemes, with further submissions made by local campaign groups. Our Consultations Action Group is now developing a new more user friendly consultation tracking system. Some further examples of major submissions made include:
Metrolink (by Dublin Cycling Campaign) to An Bord Pleanála – see here
Finally, at the end of 2022, the government published its Climate Action Plan 2023 on which Cyclist.ie provided its initial assessment in this web article. It is worth noting that the transport section of CAP23 was influenced strongly by the publication of the OECD’s Redesigning Ireland’s Transport for Net Zero report, as commissioned by the Climate Change Advisory Council (CCAC). Back in April 2022, Cyclist.ie was invited by the CCAC to a two-day workshop which was held as part of the planning work underpinning the development of the report. Joan Swift (from Sligo Cycling Campaign) represented Cyclist.ie at it. Joan was subsequently invited onto the panel for the launch event of the OECD report. Cyclist.ie warmly welcomed the publication of this report as it argues strongly for transformative change in the mobilities space – not simply incremental changes or an excessive reliance on the electrification of the private motor vehicle fleet for the decarbonisation of the transport sector.
Note that in 2022, Cyclist.ie met the Department of Transport (twice) on a variety of policy and practical issues, the National Transport Authority (three times – mainly in regard to the National Cycle Manual) and Transport Infrastructure Ireland (twice – in regard to the National Cycle Network and the new Rural Cycleway Design Guidance).
And in regard to engaging with politicians, some of our main activities in 2022 included:
Parliamentary questions (PQs) submitted on several topics of concern to cycle campaigners.
Meetings with Labour, Sinn Féin and People Before Profit on the development of their new cycling / transport policies.
Engagements with all parties on retaining / making the best use of the 20% of transport budget allocated to active modes in all party cycling policies.
Aim #4 – Advocate for more effective institutions and new legislation (p9 here) Within this strategic aim, we have two related objectives:
4.1 We will encourage and seek to ensure that key figures in transportation and related fields are inspired and motivated by experiencing cycle friendly cultures first hand.
4.3 We will advocate for the key personnel in government departments and agencies to receive up-to-date training in cycling policy and provision.
We put a lot of work behind the scenes into disseminating widely information about the Velo-city conference, the largest cycling advocacy conference in the world, that took place in Ljubliana in Slovenia in 2022. We were delighted to see representation at VC by senior staff members of the Department of Transport, Transport Infrastructure Ireland and many of the Irish Local Authorities – as well as several members of our own groups. You can read detailed reports by our own team members here:
Another related strategic objective for us under this main aim is as follows:
4.2 We will advocate for institutional reform so that active travel is given priority and so that there is good coordination (‘horizontally’ and ‘vertically’) between government departments, agencies and local authorities.
Our advocacy work on this objective continued throughout 2022 – mainly through our meetings with officials and politicians and, for example, through inviting staff from state agencies to participate in our public meetings. See for example our meeting on EuroVelo#1 in which Doug Corrie from Sport Ireland spoke, as well as Florence Lessard, a cycling tourist from Quebec in Canada.
Finally, we pressed on in 2022 with work on following objective under this same aim:
4.4 We will advocate for road traffic legislative changes to improve cycling. We will advocate for more effective enforcement of appropriate legal sanctions against drivers of motorised vehicles who endanger the safety of cyclists and pedestrians. We will not support cyclists engaging in dangerous, reckless and inconsiderate behaviour.
Some of the main activities related to this was the work around advocating for 30km/h to become the default speed limit in built-up urban areas – including members from our Love 30 group speaking at the Road Safety Authority annual research conference. See here (and the picture below). Additionally, Cyclist.ie has been in regular contact with the RSA with a view to convening a meeting in early 2023. We continue to liaise with the Road Safety section of the Department of Transport on the updating and improvement of legislation in favour of active travel.
Aim #5 – Seek to ensure there is ample funding spent on cycling (p10 here) As alluded to above, Cyclist.ie is very concerned about the under-spend of active travel allocations by local authorities. As reported in the Irish Times in August 2022, “more than half of the funding provided to rural local authorities last year [i.e. 2021] for active cycling and walking infrastructure was unspent”. Much of this underspend can be attributed to the lack of capacity at local authority level, while at the same time local authorities have been seeking to build up their staffing levels to meet the demands of funding allocations both in quantity and quality. We in Cyclist.ie will continue to monitor spending levels, but are hopeful that local authorities will improve their performance in this critical area. Note that the NTA’s 2022 Active Travel Investment Grant Allocations can be read here.
In 2022, Cyclist.ie put a lot of effort into advancing the following objective in our strategy:
5.3 We will advocate for further fiscal / taxation measures to be introduced to incentivise cycling (including the use of cargo bikes and e-bikes, and for cycle training instruction).
Following the delivery of our detailed Pre-Budget 2023 Submission plus further engagements with politicians and media oriented work, we were very pleased to see the Finance Bill containing provision to facilitate families looking for an alternative to a second car with the new €3,000 tax incentive for the purchase of cargo bikes (as reported in the Irish Times here).
The mass adoption of the use of cargo bikes – as road conditions improve – will go a long way to help decongest our towns and cities, and to deepen the cycling culture countrywide. Note that we expect that many Cyclist.ie members will be plugging into the special event organised by the European Cyclists’ Federation on 28 Feb 2023 on Cargo bike friendly cities: Tracking cargo bike developments across Europe – details and registration link here.
Aim #6 – Seek to secure high quality routes and infrastructure (p11-12 here) This is, arguably, Cyclist.ie’s most important aim and the one we are putting significant resources into achieving. As noted above, we engaged with the planning process very closely in 2022 and delivered over 100 high quality submissions to Local Authorities and An Bord Pleanála on schemes.
Additionally, we have continued to seek temporary quick-to-construct cycle facilities as an appropriate interim response to emergency situations, such as with the Covid-19 restrictions, with a view to having the facilities carefully assessed and then made permanent as improved designs. (see Objective 6.4 of our strategy).
Some of this work (and plenty of additional advocacy work) takes place through our member groups’ being represented on some of the (Transport) Strategic Policy Committees of the 31 Local Authorities in the country. In a separate article, we will provide an update on Cyclist.ie’s participation in and contributions to the work of these Transport / Infrastructure SPCs and, where appropriate, their Walking and Cycling Sub-committees.
Objective 6.7 of our strategy reads as follows: “We will work to ensure that the main standards / guidelines documents (National Cycle Manual, Design Manual for Urban Roads and Streets, and the Rural Cycle Design Guidance) are fully updated and improved in line with international best practice.”
Overall, we were pleased to see the publication of a revised version ofTII’s Rural Cycleway Design Standards (Aug 2022), with specific changes made as a result of our meetings with TII, and of our detailed submission.
We also spent much of 2022 prodding the National Transport Authority in regard to progressing the revision of the National Cycle Manual (current version available here). The document is over 18 months behind schedule but is due to be released very soon (as per our understanding at the end of January 2023). Overall, Cyclist.ie has been frustrated by the slow pace of the work on this document, which we maintain is a crucial part of the jigsaw for the development of high quality cycle networks. This domain will be a priority one for us in 2023.
In regard to the rural environment and creating networks of cycle friendly rural roads, Cyclist.ie – through its Rural Collective – made seriously impressive leaps during 2022. Huge credit is due here to the very active Rural Collective team which was convened back in 2020. The Rural Collective’s main achievements in 2022 are listed here:
Bike Week events with lots happening across rural Ireland – see here.
Attendance at Velo-city 2022 (plus the publication of the web article report on it and presentation at a subsequent webinar on Velo-city) and the ongoing search for answers about Rothar Roads and the potential for cycle tourisms
Furthermore, it is worth mentioning that Cyclist.ie’s Action Group on Research made great strides in 2022. Good research underpins all of our submissions and the development of our papers and positions on a wide range of sustainable transport and safety topics. This AG is now also beginning to reconfigure the “Resources” section of the website so as to make key documents more easily locatable – as shown below.
Finally, at the end of 2022, several active members of Cyclist.ie submitted (successful!) abstracts for the “Socio-cycle” symposium taking place in University College Cork on 03-04 February 2023 – see here for conference and registration details. We look forward to catching up with our colleagues in Cork Cycling Campaign (who are co-organising this event) at this event!
Conclusion Organisationally, we have advanced on many fronts and are in a much stronger position than this time last year. However, core funding remains our main weaknesses, and we look forward to resolving this with the help of our own members and supporters in 2023. We highlight this point in this article when we point out that “Cyclist.ie will mark its 15th birthday, Dublin Cycling Campaign its 30th birthday, while the European Cyclists’ Federation will have 40 candles on its campaigning cake” in 2023.
As one can see from the summary above, 2022 was yet another incredibly busy year for Cyclist.ie and its (now) 35 member groups. Huge credit is due to our fabulous network of members and volunteers.
That said, we continue to punch well above our weight in terms of our impact on mobility discourses, public policy, the development of new legislation, funding for cycling infrastructure and standards.
We imagine a day, not far into the future, when we will have a core staff complement of, perhaps, half a dozen members, who themselves are supporting a far larger membership and mass of supporters. This will enable us to further shape policies and conditions on the ground so that active travel, and active travel combined with high quality public transport, becomes the normal way for many if not most people to get about on a daily basis.
We look forward to your support in 2023 to make that happen.
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:
Coastal city: this brings a maritime climate, which avoids the cold winters characteristic of many other Canadian cities
High Density: the city centre is characterised by many high-rise buildings
Wide roads: this allows for four lane roads, and also reasonably wide pavements
Diversity: Vancouver is diverse, in many ways: ethnically, culturally, demographically and economically
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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:
Frequent and reliable buses and Sky-trains i.e. every 5 – 10 minutes for at least 18 hours of the day
Dense i.e. high-rise city centre accommodation, where people can live a connected life without needing a car
A tolerant society, where the less able feel confident to get out and about and use public transport easily, and all users feel safe
Good Information Technology, in printed material, in display systems, in ticketing, in Apps, in websites
Cycling is fairly well supported, although not yet all that popular
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
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
3 out of every 4 citizens in Ireland believe that investment in transport should favour safe walking, cycling and public transport ahead of private cars. It’s 79% in cities and suburbs and, strikingly, is still 72% in rural areas.
The coronavirus pandemic is hitting our lives, our economies and even our way of seeing the world. There are always lessons to learn from difficult times and this crisis has made it clear that we need to change the way we live, work and move. During these days, cars have almost disappeared from all streets of Europe, noise and air pollution levels have fallen to historic lows and bicycles have risen as the safest means of transport to do essential trips for food and medicine and to get some outdoor exercise. Never before have we been able to see, in such a clear way, the impact of the current mobility model on health, environment, equality and safety. Nor has a generation ever faced such a crucial “what if” moment for transportation. ECF finds, in this COVID19 crisis, one of those life-changing moments that can drive great social changes. With ‘Cycling Beyond the Crisis’ we want to gather facts, initiatives and insights that could lead to reset European mobility and economy once we’ve beaten the COVID19.
We compared each political party’s manifesto against our 10 key asks. These asks are changes we need from the government so we can deliver the changes we need to make Dublin a vibrant city where people of all ages and abilities can cycle. Check out our comparative ratings of the political party manifestos above. These ratings are based simply on what the various parties have outlined in their manifestos in relation to proposed investment and policies to grow cycling in Ireland
It’s election time and Cyclist.ie is eagerly awaiting the release of the full complement of party manifestos.We are anxious to see which parties “get” cycling. Will any any party show an awareness of the potential of properly resourced cycling infrastructure to transform our cities? Cycling can get people to work, school or college on time. It can combat congestion, lead to reduced noise levels and improved air-quality. It can contribute to reduced GHG emissions and this help to meet our climate targets. Will any party back safe routes to school and school streets? While we await the manifestos we have summarised the current party policies on cycling. The grid does not include FG as it is assumed that since they have been in office for 2 terms their policy is what they have done in that time-frame. Note; while we did not find distinct cycling policies for every party all except FG supported the historic FF Dáil motion (amended by the Greens) exactly one year ago in Jan ’19 which voted to allocate 10% of the land transport budget to cycling.
Amsterdam is known as the bicycle capital of the world
because of its cyclist-friendly culture and infrastructure, including
more than 500 kilometers of cycle paths and lanes. Nearly half the
working population of the city commutes daily by bike. But it wasn’t
always this way. In the 1950s and 60s, the city was “in thrall to
motorists,” according to The Guardian, and it was only after traffic casualties rose that activists managed to insist on a change in transit policies. The oil crisis of the 70s also made fuel more expensive and led to a push for energy conservation.
Now, bicycle mayors have spread to 91 cities—a global movement powered by the idea that “if Amsterdam can do it, any city in the world can do it.”