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Reflecting on Cyclist.ie’s Work in 2022 and Looking Ahead to 2023

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.   

In spite of the pandemic and the difficulty of meeting up in person, Cyclist.ie’s network of member groups grew to 35 groups as we reported at the end of 2022. That was three more than the previous year, and five times the size of our initial seven member network when Cyclist.ie was founded in 2008 (see here for the original detailed submission we made to the Department of Transport in Oct 2008). Our total number of paying members of the network remained at over 1000, with the bulk of these as individual members of Dublin Cycling Campaign. 

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).

Cyclist.ie’s Nine Action Groups

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.ie and 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 2023 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. 

Cyclist.ie was well represented at the AGM of the ECF in Berlin in 2022 

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; 
  • Cyclist.ie’s contributions to the On the Road with Simon Delaney TV series
  • Eco-laoch on TG4; 
  • Eco-eye on RTE1 TV. 
  • Nationwide 

And already in 2023, Dublin Cycling Campaign has featured in several high profile TV and radio programmes – see here.  

In 2022 we also organised a successful Photo shoot and Press Release for the Hospitals Active Travel Award in September – an event also including the Sustainability Committee of the College of Anaesthesiologists of Ireland and Irish Doctors for the Environment. As shown below. 

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:

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.  

The OECD report which has helped to shape CAP23

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:

  • Ongoing meetings with the Oireachtas All Party Cycling Group.
  • 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:

Part of the Irish delegation at Velo-city 2022

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.

Mairéad Forsythe and Justin Fleming from Love 30 / Cyclist.ie speaking at the RSA Conference

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.  

Participants at one of the Cargo Bike Championships held in the Phoenix Park (a few years ago)

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 of TII’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:  

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. 

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 []

Cycling Beyond the Crisis

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

Read article

Party Rankings on Cycling Policies

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

Election 2020

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 bicycle mayor thinks cycling could save the world

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

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

Read full article

Cycling Campaigners at the Oireachtas Transport Committee

Our presentations to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Transport, Tourism and Sport (JOCTTS) on 20th of November raised the profile of the issues we are campaigning on. The contributions by Dr. Damien Ó Tuama and Mairead Forsythe (Cyclist.ie), Kevin Baker and Louise Williams (Dublin Cycling Campaign (DCC)), and Ciarán Ferrie and Downey (I Bike Dublin) covered the core issues of concern to everyday cyclists. While the details of the main issues were captured in Cyclist.ie’s formal submission to JOCTTS – it was a valuable exercise to be able to covey directly to the members of JOCTTS what the problems are and to answer their questions.

One of the core points we stressed was that the drop in cycling numbers amongst secondary school pupils (and girls in particular) over the last 30 years is simply shocking: back in 1986, over 19,000 secondary school girls cycled to school; by 2016, that number was just 694 (Census data). We also raised the point that only approx. 1% of transport funding is allocated to cycling (2018 figures) – and this really needs to be at least 10% of the transport budget. Such funding needs to be spent on high quality cycling infrastructure, as has happened and is happening all over Europe – and not just in the well known cycling countries of The Netherlands and Denmark. In recent years, both Paris and Brussels have introduced radical policies to remove their most hostile roundabouts and other junctions, and to reallocate space for cycling and walking. We also spoke about the need to have a well-staffed National Cycling Office within the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport – in addition to the new National Cycling Design Office in the National Transport Authority. Videos of the presentations by Damien, Kevin and Ciarán can be found via this story.

Following our presentations at JOCTTS, there were non-stop interviews on all of the major radio shows on RTE1, Newstalk, Kildare FM and Radió na Gaeltachta – while a few days later, Louise Williams published an opinion piece in the Irish Times entitled “Harassment adds more danger for women cycling in Dublin”.

So where now after our engagements with JOCTTS? Firstly, we will submit further evidence of examples of best practice cycling provision to the JOCTTS Committee. Secondly, there will be opportunities to pose further PQs (Parliamentary Questions) to find out exactly what is (and is not) happening in regard to providing for cycling – and it was useful to meet the TDs and Senators at that JOCTTS session. And thirdly, I Bike Dublin will be inviting members of the JOCTTS on a cycle around Dublin in the new year so they can get a better grasp of the issues faced by those cycling on Irish roads.

More information on JOCTTS, and you can see a full video of the session here

Cyclist.ie Presenting to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Transport

On Wednesday 20th November 2019, Cyclist.ie, Dublin Cycling Campaign and I BIKE DUBLIN are presenting to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Transport, Tourism and Sport (JOCTTS). This follows on from the submission made by Cyclist.ie in early October 2019. Our main messages being delivered to JOCTTS are:

  1. Cycling offers multiple benefits to society, the economy and the environment
  2. Cycling needs serious investment from the Department – to the tune of 10% of the land transport capital budget – to be spent on high quality cycling infrastructure in particular.

The full presentation at the session is here; video presentations as follows:

Opening Statement from Dr. Damien Ó Tuama, National Cycling Coordinator with Cyclist.ie and accompanied by Mairead Forsythe from Cyclist.ie

Cyclist.ie – the Irish Cycling Advocacy Network is the umbrella body of cycle campaigning and advocacy groups in Ireland. The network comprises a mixture of approx 25 urban, rural and Greenway groups. Cyclist.ie is the member for Ireland of the European Cyclists’ Federation which advocates at a European level for making communities more liveable and cycle friendly.

Our vision is that cycling becomes a normal part of everyday life for all ages and abilities in Ireland – in a way that it is in many other European countries.

We are particularly conscious that in many parts of Ireland – and in rural Ireland especially – that the numbers of children cycling to school have fallen off a cliff. For example, in 2016 there were only 694 secondary school girls cycling to school (and over 2000 driving themselves to school); while in 1986 (while I was in secondary school myself) there were over 19,000 girls cycling to secondary school (as per Census data). Something is seriously wrong.

Cyclist.ie welcomes the new regulation regarding the dangerous overtaking of cyclists announced on 11th November 2019 by Shane Ross, Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport. Cyclist.ie is cautiously optimistic that there will be serious and systematic enforcement of the new regulations by An Garda Síochána. The impact the new laws will have on driver behaviour is critically linked with the enforcement regime to be employed by the Gardaí.

As outlined in our main submission, the proper resourcing and development of cycling nationally, as proposed in many government strategies, can have wide-ranging positive impacts on many aspects of Irish society. Increased everyday cycling levels will:

  • improve national health and well-being
  • provide an improved and more liveable public environment in villages, towns and cities throughout the country
  • support national competitiveness by reducing congestion (which in the Greater Dublin area alone currently costs €350 million per annum)
  • support local economies and increased tourism
  • support Ireland in meeting its climate change targets (where the transport sector currently accounts for approx 20% of CO2 emissions)

The recent funding of €12.6 Million (2018), equivalent to approximately 1% of transport funding allocated to cycling, needs to be increased ten-fold immediately, both to bring Ireland’s cycling infrastructure and investment into line with our EU neighbours, but also to realise the broad societal benefits that a cycling economy can bring. Furthermore, investment in cycling provides generously high rates of return on investment in comparison with other public sector investments.

Cyclist.ie calls on the government to realise these economic and social benefits by, increasing, significantly and immediately, the funding allocated to facilitate and support cycling as both a transport mode and as a leisure activity.

We call on the Government to follow its own recommendation and invest in cycling a minimum 10% of the capital budget for Land Transport from 2020. Cyclist.ie investment priorities are

  1. Provision of high quality cycling Infrastructure
  2. Subsidy of the purchase of e-bikes through a national scheme
  3. Setting up and resourcing a National Cycling Office in the Department of Transport, Tourism & Sport
  4. Increasing safety and awareness of cyclists through a variety of initiatives as outlined in our main submission

10% of the Transport Budget for Cycling in Limerick

10% of Limerick’s road transport and safety budget to go to cycling infrastructure. That was the motion recently approved by the Travel and Transportation Strategic Policy Committee (SPC) of Limerick City & County Council. The motion was proposed by Cllr. Brian Leddin (Green Party).

Cyclist.ie highly commends the initiative of Cllr. Leddin, while noting that the approved motion  now needs to be voted on at a full Limerick City and County Council meeting. 
The Limerick Leader covered the issue on 17 October 2019. Cllr. Leddin’s very well researched and impassioned speech follows:

Notice of Motion: That Limerick Council would allocate 10% of its Transport Budget to Cycling. This motion is not simply about providing infrastructure for cyclists. That would be to misunderstand the issue. This is about enabling the effective movement of people. It is
impossible for a city, or indeed a town, to grow unless it tackles and solves the mobility challenge.

We saw this in Utrecht at the weekend. The Netherlands’ fastest growing city is growing, in large part, because it has enabled cycling. That is to say that it would not be growing at this rate if it had not taken the decision to invest heavily in cycling infrastructure. It is a key point. Cycling and economic development go hand in hand because cycling enables the free and easy movement of people over short to medium distances, much more than cars or even busses do. And it does so at low cost to the individual and also to the State, notwithstanding multiple other benefits. Indeed, a report commissioned by the UK Department for Transport assessed cost benefit evidence for walking and cycling interventions. Almost all of the studies identified demonstrated ‘highly significant’ economic benefits. In general investment in cycling projects provide the highest rate of return of all transport projects. Such economic benefits would accrue to our beautiful towns and villages as much as to our city.
Referring back to Utrecht, it is a city of 300,000 people with a similar climate to ours. In Utrecht 70% of all local journeys are made by bicycle.

In Limerick, a city one third the size in population and similar in area, 70% of all journeys under 3km are made by private car. It is a staggering contrast. And this is not because the people of Limerick will not cycle. It’s quite simply because we have not provided sufficient infrastructure to enable them to do so. Would you let your children cycle to school these days? Few parents will, and who could blame them. There has in fact been a total collapse in Ireland in the number of children cycling to school since the 1980’s. It’s currently about 1 in 200 girls and about 1 in 50 boys. According to the last census more girls are driving themselves to school than cycling. Think about that. Even though only 17 and 18 year old girls are legally permitted to drive by themselves there is still a greater number doing so than the combined total of girls aged 4 to 18 who are cycling. And of course, because able bodied people cannot safely cycle they instead choose to drive. This is the reason we have traffic congestion. And traffic congestion is a major impediment to economic development. Our trucks cannot convey freight because they are competing for road space with people who need not be driving. Others, such as mobility impaired persons, who will never have the possibility of walking or cycling also must compete in their cars with those who need not be in theirs. It is counter-intuitive, but nevertheless true to say, that if we invest in cycling infrastructure we make it easier for those who must drive to do so. Acknowledging the reality of funding mechanisms, this motion is not about berating the Council for lack of action, but rather about imploring it to increase its efforts and getting Limerick quickly to where it needs to be. It is also about seeking the support of my esteemed colleagues across all political persuasions. I would acknowledge the Council’s efforts and it is true that progress has been made. Go on to the Park Canal any morning before 8.30am and the number of cyclists heading to and from Castletroy will amaze you. A brave decision was taken some 7 years ago by the last Council and it has paid off. A simple, well designed path through a beautiful amenity is fundamentally changing the relationship between the city and the university, after decades of relative disconnection. The path is so successful that we should probably be talking about widening it. In 2015 the Council commissioned the Limerick Cycle Network Study. It is a good document and it lays the blueprint for developing an excellent cycling city in a short time-frame. We really do not need to wait for the Transport Strategy to make good decisions and quick progress. We have excellent people in our Council and they can achieve this ambition. This Council must mandate them to do so. 

We are currently at about 1.4% of Capital spending on cycling specific infrastructure and despite being Ireland’s Smarter Travel Demonstration City, we are falling behind other Irish cities, let alone our European counterparts. In 2018 68% of available funding for sustainable transport infrastructure for regional cities was drawn down by Cork. Limerick drew down just 15%. It should be emphasized that the government’s climate action plan, which received cross party support in the Dáil, also mandates a 10% allocation for cycling. Action 97 of the plan states “current transport infrastructure programmes to immediately be revised to achieve at least 10% expenditure on facilitating cycling”.

Make Limerick Ireland’s Cycling City, perhaps even Ireland’s Utrecht, in 10 years. If we do this we solve the mobility challenge and we make ourselves well placed to also be Ireland’s fastest growing city and the best place to live, work and visit. Furthermore, let’s make every town and village in County Limerick a place where parents can let their children cycle to school, confident that they will return unharmed. 
We have a great opportunity, let’s seize it. I beg you to support the motion.