Tag Archives: Infrastructure

Cycle lanes / paths and other interventions, but excluding Greenways

Irish Cycling Campaign Submission on Rosses Point Public Realm Project

Our newly inaugurated Irish Cycling Campaign (formerly Cyclist.ie) has made its first formal planning related submission to Sligo County Council, together with our member group Sligo Cycling Campaign.  And what better place to start than the lovely seaside town of Rosses Point west of Sligo Town. Note that the image above shows a present view of the Rosses Point coastal road.

The Rosses Point Public Realm Enhancement project is a scheme aimed at providing improved walking and cycling facilities along the main coastal road in Rosses Point.  Interestingly, this project is funded from the Rural Regeneration Development Fund (RRDF) and not through available Active Travel funding.  Last year’s active travel funding allocated a separate €70,000 for footpaths in the village itself.  This was out of a total active travel allocation of €3 million for the county of Sligo for 2023.

Both Sligo Cycling Campaign and the Irish Cycling Campaign were supportive of the project, which Sligo Cycling Campaign views as the beginning/end of a Sligo Coastal Mobility Route from Rosses Point to Strandhill.  We both made a number of suggestions for proposed improvements.  Our submissions can be read HERE (for the ICC one) and HERE (for the Sligo CC one).  Our main points related to:

  • Compliance with the Cycling Design Manual
  • Speed limit reduction to 30kph
  • Consistent narrowing of the main carriageway to help reduce speeds
  • Controlled pedestrian and bike crossings
  • Consistent bike track width
  • Junction design improvement
  • Bus Stop shelter provision
  • More inclusive bike parking

Sligo Cycling Campaign members try out a potential Coastal Mobility Route to Rosses Point

We would be hopeful that Sligo County Council will take our considered points on board, and we look forward to the building of the proposed scheme sometime soon.

These two submissions are the first of many that will be submitted in the coming year by the Irish Cycling Campaign and its members across the country.  We will continue to make these submissions to Local Authorities and national bodies, to ensure that proposed active travel schemes are planned and built to a high standard.  Last year alone in 2023, as Cyclist.ie, we made over 50 submissions on Active Travel projects nationwide!

If you would like to support us in this valuable work in making Ireland better and safer for cycling and walking why not join Irish Cycling Campaign, or consider making a donation – or even better, get involved in our work through our many local groups?

You too can be the agent of change!

NCN Launch in Sallins – Irish Cycling Campaign Report

The Irish Cycling Campaign, formerly known as Cyclist.ie, was delighted to attend yesterday’s launch of the National Cycle Network Plan in Sallins, County Kildare. Our National Cycling Coordinator, Dr. Damien Ó Tuama, and Conor Winchcombe from local group Naas Cycling Campaign were present for the event, along with national level and local level politicians and officials, local school children and other locals out walking their dogs to try out the new facilities. 

The publication of the NCN Plan was timed to coincide with the formal opening of the section of the Grand Canal Greenway from Sallins to Aylmer Bridge, and a new pedestrian and cycle bridge over the Grand Canal, a short distance away from the existing road bridge over the canal on the main Sallins to Naas (R407) road. The new canal bridge provides a motor traffic free link that will be enormously helpful for local school children, for those walking and cycling to the nearby Sallins train station, and for the increasing number of recreational cyclists and visitors to the area. Visitor numbers are also sure to increase when the Grand Canal greenway link from Adamstown to Hazel Hatch is completed in the near future.

At the launch, Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan (pictured below) stressed the multiple functions of high quality motor traffic free and greenway infrastructure – it’s about catering for local school and intermodal commuter trips as well cycle tourism. 

The Irish Cycling Campaign is very happy to see the NCN Plan published. The publication of the final plan comes approximately 18 months after the circulation of the draft NCN plan, and after Irish Cycling Campaign (then called Cyclist.ie) made a detailed submission on the draft plan (see here) as did many Cyclist.ie local member groups. 

The planned NCN (shown below) will link cities and towns of over 5,000 people with a safe, connected and inviting cycle network. The proposed cycle network of approximately 3,500km will connect more than 200 settlements and 2.8m people. It will link to destinations such as transport hubs, centres of education, centres of employment, leisure, and tourist destinations with the intention of facilitating greater cycling and walking amongst students, leisure users, tourists, and commuters alike.

In a separate article, we will comment further on elements of the plan and details of route choices.

Notes:

The featured image at the top was kindly provided by Félim Kelly from Aecom. In that photograph are (going from left to right): Damien (Irish Cycling Campaign), Felim (Aecom), Richard (Transport Infrastructure Ireland), Michael (TII), Úna (TII) and Elizabeth (Department of Transport).

The National Cycle Network Plan can be read here: 

https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/34846-national-cycle-network/

See also the coverage provided here:

https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/ryan-unveils-national-cycle-network-plan-to-create-3500km-of-linked-cycleways-between-towns-and-cities-by-2040/a795118251.html (in which Irish Cycling Campaign is quoted)

https://www.irishtimes.com/transport/2024/01/10/new-cycle-routes-to-cover-3500km-across-state-by-2040-at-a-cost-of-14bn/

https://irishcycle.com/2024/01/10/larger-active-travel-budget-will-be-needed-says-minister-ryan-as-he-launches-e1-4-e1-9-billion-plan-for-national-cycle-network/ 

Irish Cycling Campaign Welcomes Launch of New National Cycle Network Plan

The Irish Cycling Campaign (formerly known as Cyclist.ie – the Irish Cycling Advocacy Network) welcomes the publication of Ireland’s first National Cycle Network (NCN) plan.

The launch takes place in Sallins, Co. Kildare on Wednesday 10th January 2024. The NCN identifies a network of 85 cycling corridors around the country linking cities and towns of over 5,000 people.

Overall, we strongly support the development of a NCN, the aim of which is “to link towns, cities and destinations across Ireland with a safe, connected and inviting cycle network; encouraging more people away from their cars and onto their cycles.” 

In response to the public consultation on the draft version of the plan back in June 2022, we made a detailed submission which is available here. Then as now, we make the point that: 

We need to replace the lion’s share of our shorter car journeys (under 5km/10km) with active travel trips, and our longer car trips with either public transport on its own, or active travel plus public transport for those living further away from public transport services. This is where the real carbon savings – and improvements to public health – can take place. We welcome the aim (as shown in the image below from the NCN website) that the NCN will link with public transport services, and also with other key destinations and cycle networks.

National Cycling Coordinator, Dr. Damien Ó Tuama, added that:

A core objective of the NCN needs to be to connect the towns and villages with safe/attractive cycle-friendly routes to their own rural hinterlands in all directions to a radius of 5-8km. This will allow for the most important local trips (to schools and shops for example) to be made safe for active travel – and hence for the greatest possible impact to be made on increasing the modal shares for cycling.

We look forward to the opening of a section of the Grand Canal Greenway between Sallins and Aylmer Bridge, at which the launch of the plan will take place.

The Irish Cycling Campaign will post its reflections on the launched plan after the event. 

Note – image above taken from this page https://ncn.consultation.ai/ 

We can do this!

Jo Sachs Eldridge from Leitrim Cycling Campaign and Cyclist.ie’s Executive Committee has penned this piece on the proposed speed reductions announced by the Minister last week, and how in particular they relate to rural roads.

At Velo-city[i], the international cycling conference, some years ago I tracked down speakers of many nations to quiz them about their rural roads – did theirs look like ours, did they have similar widths, volumes of traffics, speeds, could they help me demonstrate that the concept of ‘Rothar Roads’[ii] could work. The Swiss said no, the Austrians said no, the Slovenians said no, the French said no…and then I spoke to the Danish and they said yes! They said ‘we have roads like that and it works’ but then she laughed and said ‘but of course we have a different culture of driving in Denmark’.

As she saw it, that difference in driving culture was a fact.

And she’s right but maybe it doesn’t always have to be that way.

I went to a school where kids were regularly hit by teachers. Not so long ago you might have found yourself in a restaurant with people smoking at the next table. And driving home after a few too many drinks down the pub was the norm. All of these are almost unthinkable now.

Although there are some things that seem to be sewn into the fabric of our damp souls, we in Ireland do culture change well. That’s one of the strengths of this country. We are willing to learn new behaviours, adopt new attitudes, change our perspective.

I have huge hopes for the reduction in speed limits on our urban areas and rural roads. We probably all instinctively know that 80kph is not the appropriate speed to travel on those narrow, bendy roads with limited visibility. We know this yet we are sometimes confused by the signs we see as we enter such a road environment – the 80kph speed limit standing proud. Somewhere in our brain we think maybe it is ok. Yet the collision rates and road death statistics tell a very different story. In 2022 73% of road fatalities occurred on a rural road[iii]. This is not acceptable. The numbers of road deaths in any rural or urban area are not acceptable.

The speed reductions are not the answer, of course. As with many complex problems there is no one answer. But this is one huge step towards creating a very different kind of public space.

Some years ago, as part of the ‘Vision for Cycling in Rural Ireland’[iv], the Rural Cycling Collective called for changes on our rural L roads, our “Rothar Roads” as we call them. We know that in many road and street environments we need new infrastructure to create safe, segregated spaces for people on bicycles. We also know that the creation of segregated spaces on our narrow rural roads is often not feasible. Yet we also know those same rural roads already create an almost perfect cycling network.

So often these L roads have low motor traffic volumes, have smooth running surfaces, are often lined with beautiful bio-diverse hedgerows and crucially already connect us to where we want to go. What makes them less than perfect is the culture of driving – inappropriate speeds, particularly on blind bends, overtaking without allowing for safe passing distances, driving with the assumption there will be no one else on the road.

The proposed speed reductions are, I believe, the start of a new culture of driving in Ireland. The start of the creation of an environment where people walking and cycling on our rural roads really are ‘expected and respected’.

And I say this, not just as an optimist but as someone who has observed so many changes in our culture over the years.

I know we can do this.


[i] https://ecf.com/projects/velo-city

[ii] Rothar-Roads_Discussion-Paper_April-2022_Cyclist.ie_040622-compressed.pdf

[iii] 13% rise in road deaths recorded in 2022 (rsa.ie)

[iv] What is Cyclist.ie’s Rural Vision? – Cyclist.ie – The Irish Cycling Advocacy Network

With thanks to Joan Swift, Sligo Cycling Campaign and Damien Ó Tuama, Cyclist.ie National Cycling Coordinator, for their inputs on an earlier draft.

Safer Roads for Everyone – Cyclist.ie Welcomes Speed Limit Reductions

Cyclist.ie welcomes today’s announcement by Jack Chambers, Minister of State for Transport, regarding significant changes to speed limits under the National Speed Limit review. 

This development is part of a comprehensive suite of measures to be delivered under the Irish Government’s Road Safety Strategy 2021-2030 and marks a pivotal moment for road safety in Ireland. While we celebrate these changes, we must emphasise the urgency of their implementation at both national and local authority level – and the critical need for enforcement by An Garda Síochána. 

The National Speed Limit review – Action #6 (page 5) of the Road Safety Strategy Action Plan (Phase 1, 2021-2024) – represents a significant step forward in our ongoing efforts to create safer roads for all users. It underscores the government’s commitment to prioritising road safety as a top concern. These adjustments to speed limits are a cornerstone of that commitment.

One of the most important proposals within this review is the call for a 30kph speed limit in built-up areas, but this must encompass not only our cities, urban and suburban areas, but also our rural towns and villages. This move will be testament to the government’s commitment to protecting vulnerable road users, such as pedestrians and cyclists. Lowering speeds in these areas not only enhances safety but also fosters a sense of community and livability.

We must also address the proposed default 60kph speed limit on Local roads. On many of our Local roads, this proposed default limit would still remain unacceptably high, given these roads’ characteristics and challenges. We advocate for a reassessment of these limits, considering factors like the function of the road (is it used or desired to be used by people walking and cycling?), road conditions, terrain (e.g. bohereens with grass running up the middle?), and population density, with the aim of reducing the default speed limit to 50kph or even 30kph, where necessary.

To bring these changes to fruition, we call for strong leadership and ambition at the local government level. Local authorities and their councillors are essential in the successful implementation of speed limit reforms. It is critical that they take swift action to adjust speed limits in line with the new guidelines, saving lives and making our towns and villages more welcoming places.

In conclusion, Cyclist.ie stands firmly behind the mission of creating safer roads and promoting sustainable transportation. We celebrate the National Speed Limit review as a significant stride toward this goal, but we urge that these reforms are implemented urgently and enforced rigorously. Lower speed limits in built-up areas, near schools, and on local roads are essential components of this vision. We need to see cross-party support at national and local level to ensure that our roads are safe, inclusive, and welcoming spaces for all.

Cyclist.ie Welcomes Publication of New National Cycle Manual

Cyclist.ie is delighted to see a new version of the National Cycle Manual finally published by the National Transport Authority. It replaces the previous NCM, published by the NTA in 2011, which is now withdrawn. The new manual can be read here

According to the NTA, “the new manual places more emphasis on the range of cycles that cycle infrastructure will have to accommodate and the recommendations focus on segregating cyclists from traffic where speeds and volumes make roads unsuitable for sharing. There is also a general presumption towards segregating pedestrians and cyclists where possible.”

Campaigning for the publication of the NCM has been one of the priority actions of Cyclist.ie over the last number of years – and it was in our list of Cyclist.ie 10 Asks to Make Cycling Better and Safer for All that we prepared ahead of the General Election in 2020. And over recent years, we have engaged closely with the NTA discussing various design concepts and details, and providing constructive criticism on a myriad of elements that appeared in earlier drafts of the document. Over our many conversations with and in written submissions to the NTA, we stressed the need for a diversity of cycle types to be put to the fore to designers when they are conceiving of scheme designs – and we are glad to see images such as the following one presented early on in the NCM:

Neasa Bheilbigh, Chairperson of Cyclist.ie, responded to the publication of the new NCM by saying – “I warmly welcome the publication of this document, and look forward to every Local Authority engaging in systematic training in the use of it. We need to step up several gears in terms of the quality of the cycle infrastructure that is provided so that more people choose to cycle as part of their everyday lives”. 

Cyclist.ie notes that Action TR/23/31*(TF) on page 58 of the Annex of Actions of the 2023 Climate Action Plan (available here) states:

“Advance widespread and consistent implementation of National Cycle Manual guidance and the Design Manual for Urban Roads and Streets” and with the following output identified to be completed by Q4 of 2023 “Updated National Cycle Manual guidance and training on implementation”.

We eagerly await this further guidance material so that we can ensure that the significant sums being spent on cycle infrastructure over the coming years are spent on the highest quality facilities possible. 

Cyclist.ie wishes to thank all of its dedicated volunteers countrywide who have taken the time – over many years – to provide sometimes very technical feedback on scheme design and details, and on earlier iterations of the NCM. All of this behind-the-scenes campaigning work is now bearing fruit. 

Finally, we note here that over the coming weeks and beyond, Cyclist.ie will be taking a closer look at the final published details in the NCM, partly in the context of us examining new cycle scheme designs coming on stream. We will also be monitoring the rollout of training to local authorities in due course. Watch this space.  

Health Groups Call for Political Leadership on BusConnects, Not Scaremongering

Last week, an alliance of health, medical, environmental and sustainable transport advocates joined forces to call for the urgent implementation of BusConnects, the Government’s plan to improve public transport, cycling and walking, and reduce carbon emissions in Ireland’s major urban centres.

The press release circulated for the event (on 23 August 2023) can be read below, and a summary of the extensive media coverage that ensued on the back of the press event can be read here.


Members of the alliance include the Irish Heart Foundation, the Irish College of General Practitioners, Irish Doctors for the Environment, Royal College of Physicians, the Irish Pedestrian Network and Cyclist.ie, the national cycling advocacy network. At the launch in Dr Steeven’s Hospital on Wed 23rd August, Dr. Sean Owens of the Irish College of General Practitioners said, “BusConnects will provide more reliable, punctual bus services, better footpath and crossing facilities for pedestrians, and joined-up bike lanes across Dublin and other cities. Regular physical activity has been found to be one of the most sustainable ways of improving health. Designing a transport system that builds in some level of exercise, whether that be a 10 min walk at either end of a bus journey or a cycle to work or school, is the easiest way of achieving this. Active travel projects will have significant public health benefits and we need our public representatives to stand up and support them.”

At recent public meetings in Cork and Dublin, political support for BusConnects was lukewarm at best. Projects are at risk of being delayed or watered down unnecessarily. It is vital that public representatives give their full backing to these projects so that their many health, environmental and public realm benefits can be realised as quickly as possible. Members of the Active Travel Coalition, established in 2021, share the goal of enabling people of all ages to have healthier choices in transport. Active travel is defined as any functional transport that involves physical exercise, such as walking or cycling, and includes the use of public transport.

BusConnects is a Government-led initiative to reorganise bus routes in five main cities and construct continuous bus lanes, connected cycle lanes and enhanced footpaths and crossings for pedestrians. Roisin Breen from the HSE’s Strategy and Research group added that “Supporting healthy behaviours from childhood through to healthy ageing is a key pillar of the HSE Healthy Ireland Plan for 2023-27. The plan calls for a shift towards a culture that places greater emphasis and value on prevention and keeping people well.

One of the key focus areas in the plan is on active living. BusConnects helps facilitate active living which will keep people healthier longer.

In addition The HSE Climate Action Strategy 2023-2050 includes action to enable transition to low carbon and active travel alternatives for people working in, visiting and using our services.” Buses are the backbone of our public transport so supporting an expanded and more effective bus system makes sense. In Dublin for example, buses carry more passengers than car, rail or Luas. Major rail projects take many years just to obtain planning permission, and cost many times what a bus lane would.


“Ireland has a transport problem, but more specifically a car problem”



…said Dr. Colm Byrne, consultant geriatrician and member of Irish Doctors for the Environment. “We rank only behind Cyprus as the most car-dependent country in the EU, with 76 per cent of people using a car as their daily transport, with even very short journeys done by car.”

According to Mark Murphy, advocacy officer with the Irish Heart Foundation, “30 minutes of moderate intensity activity, such as walking or cycling, five days a week, reduces your risk of developing heart disease and stroke, and contributes to overall improved levels of health”.

Cycling has immense pent-up demand, according to the Coalition, and cycle traffic would be greatly increased by BusConnects. “In Dublin, for example, roughly 25% of adults cycle one or more days per week. There is a further 21% who would cycle if they felt safer. The #1 reason given by people for not cycling is fear of sharing road space with motor traffic. With safe segregated cycling infrastructure therefore, we could almost double the numbers of adults cycling in Dublin. This is to not even consider the potential for growth in schoolkids cycling to school. Cycling can be an option for almost everyone if we design for it correctly. Segregated bike lanes will be delivered alongside the improved bus routes as part of BusConnects,” said David Timoney of Cyclist.ie.

Air pollution improvements, reduced congestion and addressing our carbon reduction commitments were cited by the Coalition as ‘co-benefits’ that improved bus, pedestrian and cycling facilities would bring. However the Coalition pointed out some issues with the plans. ”We’re aware of weaknesses in the designs, and we do acknowledge that the loss of private garden space and the inconvenience of losing habitual car park spaces are difficult for those affected,” said Timoney, “but we are convinced that BusConnects will bring such major benefits to the public good – improvements in peoples’ cardiovascular and respiratory health, even their sense of general wellbeing – that any losses will be far outweighed by the gains”.

Further details and documents available on the Dublin Cycling Campaign website here.  

Cyclist.ie Celebrates Vital Athlone Link Bridge Opening

An aerial view of the new Shannon Cycle & Pedestrian Bridge

Cyclist.ie vice chair Dave Tobin, and Colm Ryder, infrastructure coordinator, were invited by Westmeath County Council to attend the formal opening of the €15 million Euro Cycling/Pedestrian Bridge across the River Shannon on Tuesday 8th August last.  Cyclist.ie has supported this project enthusiastically and we have made a number of submissions on the general planning of the overall EuroVelo route from Dublin to Galway of which this bridge is a vital cog.  The bridge was formally inaugurated by Minister Jack Chambers, with a variety of officials and local politicians in attendance.  

Minister Jack Chambers formally inaugurates the Shannon EuroVelo link bridge

This vital link bridge placed roughly halfway between the main railway and road bridges spanning the Shannon in Athlone, is a major statement in relation to the development of cycling and walking links across the country, and a further impetus to the development of the full EuroVelo cycle route from Dublin to Galway.  It was a complex and challenging project in a confined urban and water space, and the construction problems were exacerbated by the at times exceptionally high water levels of the River Shannon.  We commend the elegant modern architectural and engineering design that this project embodies, as a major statement of our government’s commitment to active travel.  Check out these short videos

The bridge directly links the east side of Athlone in Co Westmeath, with the west side in Co Roscommon, and also links the modern Radisson Hotel and the historic Athlone Cathedral and Castle.  Of course, it also links the EuroVelo route from Dublin to Athlone, with the proposed route from Athlone to Galway, and is strategically placed in an area that is often regarded as the centre of Ireland!  A small plaque in the centre of the new bridge celebrates this location.  See photo below.

Plaque at centre of the Shannon Link Bridge

The project has been managed overall by the Westmeath Council Projects Office, under the Project Coordinator for the Galway to Athlone Cycleway, Michael Kelly.  Michael has been involved in the development of the Old Rail Trail from Mullingar to Athlone, and also in the work on the EuroVelo route finalisation between Athlone & Galway, which continues.  Cyclist.ie looks forward to the continuing development of this  important cross Ireland, and cross Europe Route, as part of the EuroVelo cycle route complex 

Michael Kelly, overall EuroVelo 2 project manager/coordinator

We would urge Cyclist.ie members and all cycling advocates to visit this flagship project, which makes a big statement about Ireland’s commitment to active travel.  Tell your friends about it, but most of all go check it out for yourself.  And no need to even bring your own bike, as you can now avail of Moby Electric Bike Hire around Athlone, and of course Athlone also has very good public transport connections.

CHECK IT OUT!

Update from Meath – Navan Cycling Initiative

There is a lot happening in County Meath on the cycling development front! Cyclist.ie was delighted to receive the update below from Navan Cycling Initiative who are doing sterling local campaigning work for the last few years. 

New Greenway opens in Navan
Work on the Navan section of the Boyne Valley to Lakelands County Greenway was completed last month. The new greenway, which runs for 30km from Navan to Kingscourt, has already been a great success in locations such as Castletown and Nobber, and the Navan end has already proven to be just as popular with a huge amount of people out enjoying it.

At Navan Cycling Initiative, we have raised concerns about the lack of connectivity from the greenway trailhead to Navan town centre, and recently met with our local Active Travel team in Meath County Council to discuss the issue. Navan is in a fortunate position in that it will soon have not one but two top-class greenways (the other being the Boyne Greenway, which is still in the early planning stages), which will be fantastic for the town, but it is vital these greenways are properly connected with safe active travel infrastructure.

Navan schemes
Elsewhere in Navan, there are several cycle schemes ongoing in various planning stages (from concept to detailed design), with dedicated cycle lanes planned on the Dublin Road, the Kells Road, and the Trim Road, to name a few. See the table further below listing the schemes. These have been in planning for a number of years, having gone through the laborious Part 8 planning process, but Navan as a town is primed and ready to embrace active travel and become a cycle-friendly town. We are expecting the roll out of a new bike renting scheme (including e-bikes and cargo bikes!) over the summer, which will only get more and more people out cycling.

County Meath
There are also a number of schemes underway across County Meath. In Ashbourne, construction on the R135 Cycle Network, linking Ashbourne town centre to the Pillo Hotel roundabout, is expected to be complete by late summer. Other schemes being progressed include the Ratoath Pedestrian & Cycling Scheme, which is hoped to begin construction this year, and the Dunboyne to Clonee Pedestrian and Cycle Network, which is in the early planning stages. Meath was also successful in securing six new Safe Routes to School programmes, in various locations across the county, which will hopefully all be completed this year.

Cyclist.ie welcomes updates from any of our approx. 35 member groups on what is happening in their own district or county. If you would like to post an update on the website, just drop a line to our National Cycling Coordinator here.

Cyclist.ie Report on Transport Forum in TCD

Cyclist.ie and its member groups were well represented at the “Accelerating Active Travel for 2030” Transport Forum held on Wed 22 March 2023 in the elegant Regent House in Trinity College Dublin. Our attendees included Mairéad Forsythe, Dr. Mike McKillen, Colm Ryder, Dr. Damien Ó Tuama (National Cycling Coordinator with An Taisce & Cyclist.ie), Conor Cahill, Una Morrison, Eric Conroy and David Timoney.

The overarching message from the event was that we are now, finally, beginning to make good progress in the development of our active travel infrastructure in Dublin City and other built-up areas, but we also need to ‘up our game’ over the coming years if we are to humanise our cities and decarbonise our transport systems. 

A view of TCD’s Parliament Square from Regent House (Photo credit – Dr. Mike McKillen)

Joe Seymour from the National Transport Authority (NTA) argued that the 2022 Active Travel budget of €290M is being spent on increasingly better quality schemes. We are seeing the results with, for example, BusConnects schemes, which include significant cycling provision, the Fairview Public Realm / Bus Priority / Active Travel scheme, the Dodder Greenway Route, the 11km long D24 cycle route in Dublin, the Salmon Weir Bridge in Galway and the Bilberry to Rice Bridge link in Waterford. Challenges do remain however in dealing effectively with the many protests against change, and with the re-allocation of public road space.

One of Joe Seymour’s slides showing the steep increase in the NTA’s Active Travel budget over the last seven years. 

Claire French, Senior Executive Engineer in Dublin City Council, provided an historical perspective on the subject. She emphasised how, initially, some of the public were apprehensive about schemes such as the pedestrianisation of Grafton Street (1970s – 80s), the banning of left-turn motor vehicles at the northern end of Dawson Street (early 2000s), the creation of the College Green Bus Gate (around 2010) and, most recently, the removal of motor vehicles from most of Capel Street. In all cases, these traffic management interventions / public realm schemes have improved public life and business activity in the city.

Further positive examples, which Dublin Cycling Campaign has strongly advocated for over the years, include the creation of the (still temporary and unfinished) Liffey Cycle Route measures, the contra-flow cycle facilities on Nassau Street, Parnell Square (East) and on Werburgh Street, and the filtered permeability schemes in Grangegorman and on Pigeon House Road. Claire acknowledged the need for the City Council to continue to improve in its processes of public consultation.

Dr. Robert Egan, Research Fellow at Trinity College Dublin, drew on the work of the late Prof. John Urry in his presentation – and, in particular, on his thinking around the creation of the ‘system of automobility’ and the discourses which have naturalised car-centric planning over the decades. As we seek to rapidly decarbonise our transport systems and revitalise and rehumanise our built up areas, we now need to marginalise automobility and centralise ‘velo-mobility’. Shaping the discourses through the media and in other ways is central to this mission. Robert’s comment that we are “currently cycling within a driving system” but need to change to “driving within a cycling (and public transport) system” struck a chord with the audience. 

Martina Mullin, Operational Lead in Healthy Trinity, gave a terrific overview of the work that Trinity College has focused on so as to make bicycle journeys safe on and off-campus. Much of the latter efforts have focused on engagements with Dublin City Council and the NTA, so that there are safe routes for Trinity students and staff coming in from the suburbs and into the city centre. Much credit is due to Martina and her group on this work. TCD is concentrating on the routes to and from the main campus to its developing estate towards Ringsend, the Health Sciences at St. James’ Hospital and residences at Trinity Hall (Dartry). Both Dublin City Council and the NTA are aware of this requirement for safe segregated routes.

Finally, Willem Frederik Metzelaar from the European Institute of Innovation & Technology (EIT) Urban Mobility, provided the European context, reminding us that 23% of the EU’s transport emissions come from the transport sector. Clearly, we need a new mobility paradigm in which active travel is front and centre. EIT are funding EU start-up businesses and promoting active travel through a variety of programs.

A lively Q&A session followed. One of the main points stressed by audience members was that there needs to much greater engagement from An Garda Síochána on the matter of traffic law enforcement – in particular in relation to illegal car parking on the cycle tracks which have been created specifically to make cycling safe and easier for those new to cycling (and those considering cycling) in the city. 

Cyclist.ie and Dublin Cycling Campaign send its congratulations to Trinity College Dublin on running the event and we look forward to further engagements on the topics in the near future.

Formal info on event:
https://www.tcd.ie/news_events/events/event/transport-forum–accelerating-active-travel-for-2030.php