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General news about cycling

Government Consultation on Sustainable Mobility

Friday 28th Feb is the closing date for making submissions on the government’s sustainable mobility policy (SMP). This covers public transport (urban and rural) and active travel (i.e. walking and cycling). Details of the process including background papers can be read here

We urge all of our members and fans to send in submissions to the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (DTTAS) stressing the need for a radical change in policy – to be emailed to [email protected] by 17:30 this Friday 28th Feb. You can use the material in the two links below, and add in your own observations also.

If you are under pressure and have time only for a super short submission, we suggest you stress the following points in your submission (with subject title – Public Consultation on a Review of Sustainable Mobility Policy) and reword/edit in your own style as appropriate

  1. The balance of investment between active travel and public transport on the one hand, and carbon intensive modes on the other hand needs to change radically in favour of the former. Our position is that, once essential maintenance is provided for, and existing contracts honoured, there should be zero allowance for growth in car-based modes and the budget needs to be allocated to walking, cycling and public transport.
  2. Road space needs to be reallocated to allow a shift to more efficient modes of travel by installing high quality segregated cycling infrastructure and improved facilities for pedestrians on both urban and rural roads. A special emphasis needs to be given to making junctions safe for all ages and abilities – in too many cycle schemes over the last 20 years, improvements were made to the links, but not to the junctions themselves (the location of many collisions). 
  3. Secure and high quality cycle parking facilities need to be provided at all public transport stops, stations and interchanges to facilitate intermodal journeys. In the case of major stations (such as Plunkett in Waterford, Kent in Cork, Colbert in Limerick, Céannt in Galway, and Heuston, Connolly and Bus Áras in Dublin), there is a need to provide high capacity state-of-the-art cycle parking facilities as can be found in cities such as Utrecht and Malmo. 
  4. Create immediate ‘Quick Build’ projects in the interim to improve the cycling experience, while waiting for the major projects to be completed.
  5. Create an institutional structure to coordinate and oversee the implementation of all active travel measures. We would maintain that the structures recommended in Chapter 06 of the 2009 National Cycle Policy Framework (NCPF) are still broadly relevant. A major weakness with the implementation of the NCPF over the last decade was the lack of advancement of critically important actions such as 17.2 (establishment of a National Advisory Forum) and 17.4 (Creation of a Network of Cycling Experts). Compared to the institutional structures created to look after the roll out of Ireland’s motorway network, the structures created to coordinate cycling interventions were not in the same league. 

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

Cyclist.ie Calls for a VeloRution!

Cyclist.ie’s vision is that cycling will be a normal part of transport and everyday life in Ireland.  Cycling is a vital part of building healthier and less polluted communities. Check out our 10 Election Asks HERE, but we boil them down to three kernel points below.

  1. CYCLING NEEDS TO BE A NORMAL EVERYDAY ACTIVITY

Cycling is a critical part of the transport equation in combating Climate Change.  We need everyday cycling to be better and safer, more convenient, and easier. Hopping on your bike should be a more attractive option for the so-called first-mile and last-mile journeys.

No more slashing of funding or paltry rises: major investment is needed to shift people away from car dependency, especially for short journeys under 5km.  This means greater investment in cycling infrastructure and promotion.

We need our next Government to allocate a minimum 10% of Transport Funding to cycling immediately, as promised under the National Climate Action Plan.  Currently, cycling is allocated a tiny 2% of our transport spend.

We do not need to reinvent the wheel. Bike safety is highest in countries and cities where bike use is high and people cycling have interconnected networks of segregated routes (e.g. Netherlands, Denmark, Bristol, Manchester).

2.ELIMINATE THE NEED FOR CYCLE BUSES – BUILD SAFE  SEGREGATED NETWORKS

Manifestos that mention school cycle buses should make us weep with rage. There should be no need for parents and adults to marshal kids to school on bikes, forming human shields between small soft bodies and big, motorised, metal boxes. Cycle buses must not become the norm.

What we need are safe routes to schools and throughout populated areas: networks of segregated cycle paths along roads; safe junction design with priority signalling for people on bikes; and quiet routes through permeable neighbourhoods.

Let’s get designing and building!

3. FIT FOR PURPOSE PLANNING, POLICY AND POLICING

The 3 Ps of Planning, Policy and Policing seem a little dry at first glance – but these are the actions that make the good things happen.

Planning  – Building safer cycling infrastructure should be guided by our National Cycle Manual. This design guidance needs urgent updating to upgrade our standards and bring us into line with best international practice.

Policy – We need joined-up thinking for everyday cycling across the myriad of Departments: Transport Tourism and Sport, Health, Environment/Housing, Education, and Justice. We need a resourced National Cycling Office, preferably within the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, to coordinate policy, and ensure action.

Policing – We have road traffic legislation that considers people who cycle and walk, but enforcement needs greater priority. People who cycle are frustrated and frightened by illegal parking in cycle lanes and dangerous overtaking.The Garda need to learn from their UK counterparts.

CONCLUSION

Increasing cycling numbers in Ireland will cut congestion, improve public health, and reduce pollution.

To get more people cycling, we need to make it an easier and safer choice. Let’s have real Cycle Networks, Safe School Routes, and coordinated Planning, Policy and Policing that protects us.

It’s as easy as ABC: Allocate 10% of transport funding to cycling; Build safer infrastructure, and everyone will Cycle more.

10 Asks to Make Cycling Safer and Better for All

  • Allocate 10% of transport funding to cycling
  • Establish a National Cycling Office in Dep. of Transport, Tourism & Sport
  • Provide high quality cycling infrastructure networks that enable Cycling for All
  • Introduce a default 30 km/h speed limit in urban areas
  • Prioritise the provision of school streets and safe routes to school
  • Rebalance transport expenditure to prioritise public transport, walking & cycling
  • Introduce a subsidy scheme for E-bikes similar to the E-car scheme
  • Update the National Cycle Manual as a matter of urgency
  • Land use planning for urban development to prioritise active travel
  • Prioritise enforcement by An Garda to protect people walking & cycling

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.

Carlow Cycling Campaign; A new cycling advocacy group!

On the 4th of November 2019, Carlow Cycling Campaign was launched at a well attended public meeting on a very wet Monday night.

It all took place in the lovely BeaNice Café in Carlow town. The meeting was organised by local secondary school teacher, Chris Davey, and attended by a terrific cross section of the community. It included local Councillors (Fintan Phelan, FF, and Adrienne Wallace, PBP), the local postman who does his deliveries by bike, a local bike shop owner, members of Carlow Road Cycling Club and Slaney Valley Cycling Club, many mothers and fathers of school pupils, and some who had lived in much more cycling friendly environments such as Rotterdam.

The feeling amongst those attending was that Carlow was an extremely car dominated town and had become increasingly hostile for those choosing to cycle or considering cycling for transport or leisure trips. Quite a few people highlighted the cycle unfriendliness of the town’s roundabouts, and the stop-start nature of much of the existing cycling infrastructure. General intimidation towards those cycling from drivers was also raised – as was the extreme congestion around the cluster of schools near the town’s train station. There is huge potential for growing cycling in Carlow town, but there does not appear to be any official coherent plan to make this happen.

Dr. Damien Ó Tuama, National Cycling Coordinator with Cyclist.ie, gave an overview of some of the advocacy work Cyclist.ie and its member groups are advancing and there was a discussion around what types of interventions would make the biggest difference in Carlow. Of particular interest to attendees was the Galway Cycle Bus, the introduction of more 30km/hr zones, the development of a high quality and well maintained cycle network in the town, and massively increased provision of cycle parking. To make all of this happen, there was a huge interest in following the lead of Limerick City and County Council which recently approved a motion to allocate 10% of its transport budget for cycling – and, more broadly, for Carlow County Council to develop a high quality cycling policy and to employ a Cycling Officer at a senior level.

Carlow Cycling Campaign will meet again in January and is planning on inviting a representative from An Garda Síochána to the meeting to discuss illegal car parking on cycle tracks and other issues of concern to school-going children and their parents. To keep abreast of what is happening in Carlow, keep an eye on the Facebook page of Carlow Cycling Campaign. We wish our colleagues in Carlow Cycling Campaign the very best of luck!