Tag Archives: PressRelease

Cycling Advocates Demand Government Direction TO Local Authorities, on Covid-19 Responses

Cyclist.ie calls on the Irish government to urgently follow the lead of European and United Kingdom governments regarding emergency Covid-related active travel measures. These measures include allocating more space for active travel and controlling vehicle speed by introducing 30 km/hr speed limits in built up areas and other measures.

On Saturday 9 May, the UK transport secretary Grant Shapps announced a national plan to support ‘active transport’ (walking and cycling) during and after the Covid-19 restrictions . He instructed local authorities to create space for walking and cycling and said that 20 m/ph (30km/h) speed limits was one of the measures required. The Transport Secretary’s action follows similar action by European governments and the release on 8 May of WHO guidance for local authorities – Strengthening Preparedness for COVID-19 in Cities and Urban Settings – in which it recommends the “promotion of safe active mobility (e.g. walking and cycling)”.

As a consequence of the Covid 19 shut-down, recent weeks have seen a complete reversal of numbers driving versus numbers walking and cycling . However, from Monday next, May 18th business will begin to open on a phased basis and traffic will increase. Due to the constraints social distancing requirements will impose on public transport and the air pollution consequence of increased motor traffic, large numbers of people will continue to walk and cycle. Switching to the private car, as an alternative to public transport would result in cities and towns experiencing unprecedented gridlock and a consequent deterioration in air quality. This would pose further threats to public health by increasing the incidence of respiratory conditions.

Dublin City Council is, to date, the only Irish local authority implementing substantial traffic measures to improve safety for people cycling and walking during the pandemic. Cyclist.ie spokesperson, Joan Swift, Sligo Cycling Campaign, has called on the government ” to ensure that the remaining Dublin council areas and our other cities of Waterford, Limerick, Cork Galway – and major towns such as Sligo – will not be left behind”, The Department of Transport Tourism and Sport must emulate its UK counterpart and offer direction to local authorities on dealing with the challenges they face in keeping people safe while walking and cycling. Speaking on behalf of Cyclist.ie and its 20 plus member organisations across Ireland, National Cycling Coordinator, Dr. Damien Ó Tuama, said that “Initially the required segregated space can be secured quickly and cheaply by reallocating road space using a combination of wands, bollards, orcas and planters. In addition Mr O’ Tuama called for An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to introduce the following :

  • Introduce €1,000 electric bike grant to be administered by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) this is necessary to facilitate longer journeys by people who will be unable to use public transport
  • Introduce incentives for bike repairs (as implemented in France and UK)
  • Ensure that the Cycle to Work scheme continues to be available to workers who could avail of the scheme pre-Covid-19 and enhance the scheme by (i) introducing an equivalent one for those dependant on social welfare, and (ii) increasing the limit from €1,000 to €2,000 for purchases of cargo bikes

In addition the government must work on cross-departmental basis to:

  • Accelerate the granting of any necessary funds to local authorities for safety improvements in our towns and cities
  • Use emergency powers to enable councils to bypass the current process and take swift action to. mandate 30kph speed limits in city, town and village centres and near promenades parks and schools
  • Remind councils that other measures to reduce speed are already available to them, for eg junction build-outs
  • Ensure enforcement by An Garda Síochána of anti-social driving and parking offences – e.g. by implementing fines and increasing resources available to tow vehicles obstructing footpaths or cycle ways
  • Place a nationwide ban on local authorities de-pedestrianising streets or suspending cycle lanes.

We cautiously welcome the words of Shane Ross, Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport in the Dáil today (13 May), when he mentioned that the National Transport Authority (NTA) would work with local authorities in Cork, Limerick, Galway and Waterford to develop a COVID mobility framework. We are disappointed that this appears limited in scope and gives local authorities the ability to opt out of any measures. We would like clarification from the Minister why this process was not started two months ago when initial restrictions began, particularly in light of cities around the world already taking such measures at that stage. We note that Dublin City Council led from the front on this matter, and that the Minister’s department, through the NTA, only intervened at a late stage. The Minister must surely recognise that there are more than five councils in the country that face these issues, and we are calling for greater support for the 28 city and county councils not mentioned by the Minister, including the councils surrounding Dublin City Council that are heavily reliant on public transport for mobility.

ECF: RECOMMENDATIONS FOR THE COVID-19 RECOVERY

During the quarantine, cycling has proven to be the safest, most efficient mode of transport we have. It cuts air pollution, which is likely to help spread the virus, and guarantees social distancing between commuters. In order to ensure a fast recovery, the European Cyclists’ Federation (ECF) issued a set of recommendations for European, national and local authorities to promote cycling.

“This is not just a matter of sustainable mobility any more: more and better cycling has become a primary health issue. And if we want to reap the benefits bicycles can provide, we must ensure the measures we are taking will stay in the future. This is our opportunity to redesign cities for good, we can’t waste it with temporary solutions” declared Morten Kabell, co-CEO of ECF.

Cars have almost disappeared from the streets of Europe, bringing noise and air pollution levels down to historic lows. On the other hand, bicycles have emerged as the best option to do essential trips, deliver food and medicines, and get physically active. Never before have we been able to see, in such a clear way, the impact of our current mobility model on health, the environment, equality and safety. And never has such a great share of the population realised that private motorised mobility is far from the ideal commute.

Yet, the prospect of another traffic jam clogging our cities and polluting our air is not difficult to imagine. With public transport operating at reduced capacity, the only truly viable alternative we have to relaunch our economy and society is active mobility. Cycling is the hyper-efficient, quick and cheap option that will enable a boost recovery for Europe, instead of a slow and clumsy one.

“We have put together a set of recommendations for new streets that will unlock the full potential of cycling mobility. These solutions will enable extensive benefits in terms of traffic efficiency, a local economy reboot, public health savings. We call on all municipalities, regions and national governments to adapt these principles to their local context and give Europe a head start in the recovery phase”, said Jill Warren, co-CEO of ECF.

1. Cycling infrastructure networks

A well-designed network of bicycle infrastructure is essential to the promotion of cycling as a safe, efficient and healthy mode of transport. A comprehensive network of so called “COVID lanes” will immediately facilitate cycling access in cities. Following the example of Berlin, Budapest, Paris, Rome, among many others, a total target of 95,000 kilometres of roads should be repurposed for cycling. The deployment of various elements of street furniture can help ensure that the segregation of modes is respected by all users.

To further improve the efficiency of the investment, these elements should then be reconciled and integrated in the permanent urban infrastructure.

2. Reduce traffic speed limits

Road safety experts agree that speed is one of the major threats to safer streets. Reducing traffic speed in cities to 30km/h (if not lower) is the first step to achieve that goal and would not make overall mobility any slower. The City of Brussels took an exemplary measure, reducing speed limits to 20 km/hour in all streets inside the inner ring road.

3. Incentivise positive change, dis-incentivise business as usual

Together with Cycling Industries Europe and several other bicycle organisations in Europe, we are calling on the European institutions to create a €5 billion centralised EU e-bike Access Fund. Establishing a set of subsidies scheme for the purchase of (e-)(cargo)bikes can go a long way in nudging people in the right direction.

On the other hand, we need to reduce the over €100 billion congestion costs in European cities (more than 1% of the EU GDP per year). Looking for a solution, ECF studied the implementation of congestion charges in 4 cities over many years: Milan, London, Gothenburg and Stockholm. The ECF report “Congestion charges and cycling” proves the success of investing revenues from congestion charges into a sustainable mobility plan, and particularly cycling. With different approaches, the 4 cities achieved similar, positive results: introducing a congestion charge scheme created net revenues, reduced congestion, improved air quality and was beneficial for sustainable mobility.

4. Cycle logistics

Right-turning (left in Ireland & the UK) trucks in urban areas are one of the leading causes of deadly and life-changing accidents with cyclists. Also, over 90% of all commercial vans and trucks currently circulating are diesel-fuelled. The promotion of alternatives such as cycle logistics for the last-mile delivery is essential. The Horizon2020 EU-funded project City Changer Cargo Bike has already collected a number of valuable resources to guide cities and businesses in the process of converting their urban logistics into a more efficient, cleaner and infinitely safer system.

At a national and European level, stricter safety and visibility standards for lorry manufacturers must be imposed. While the revised General Safety Regulation already represents a great leap in cycling safety, the EU must firmly lead the negotiations at the UN to define the exact technical specifications for each of the measures.

Dropbox to Support Dublin Cycling Campaign

On Thursday 23rd January 2020, Dropbox will formally launch its initiative to support everyday cycling in Ireland at an event in its European Headquarters in Hatch Street in Dublin. Dropbox has agreed to support the work of the Dublin Cycling Campaign and to help it develop as a stronger cycling advocacy force.

Dropbox is the first company in Ireland to formally support the work of Dublin Cycling Campaign as Business Members. This follows its pioneering support for other progressive causes over the years such as the Marriage Equality and Pride campaigns.

Amongst the speakers at the special event on 23rd of January in the company’s Dublin headquarters will be Paulo Rodriguez, Director of Solutions EMEA, Klaus Bondam, CEO of the Danish Cyclists’ Federation, Dr. Sabina Brennan, Neuroscientist and Active Travel Advocate from Trinity College Dublin and Dr. Damien Ó Tuama, National Cycling Coordinator with Cyclist.ie – the Irish Cycling Advocacy Network. Invitees will include senior executives from many of the country’s largest tech and finance firms, together with figures from the transport world.

Dropbox’s employee led initiative responds to the urgent need to develop Dublin and other Irish cities as bicycle friendly and Active Travel cities. Compared to other places where large tech companies are based – such as Copenhagen, Berlin, Stockholm and Amsterdam – Dublin and other Irish cities need to recognise the necessity to become properly bike and family friendly. This means ensuring greater investment in high quality segregated cycling infrastructure, making the most hostile junctions cycle friendly and lessening car domination of our streets, to encourage all ages, genders and ethnicities to be ‘active travellers’.

Full Press Release

Minister Bruton Publishes Draft Scheme of New Climate Law

  • Carbon budgets to be required by law
  • Decarbonisation targets for each sector
  • Sale of fossil fuel cars banned by 2030

The Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Richard Bruton T.D. today (Monday,  6th of January) published the Draft General Scheme of the Climate Action (Amendment) Bill 2019 and confirmed that it is priority legislation for the Government in the new Dáil term.

The Climate Action Plan, published earlier this year, is the Government’s plan to ensure we radically reduce our emissions in every sector to ensure we meet our future climate commitments, putting us on a trajectory to be net zero by 2050.

Minister Bruton said: “Governance and accountability are at the heart of the Climate Action Plan. We are putting in place the legislative underpinning to ensure the radical step up required is delivered.” The Bill aims to enshrine in law the approach outlined in the Climate Action Plan, including:

  • Establishing a 2050 emissions reduction target in law
  • Making the adoption of carbon budgets a legal requirement
  • Strengthening the role of the Climate Action Council in recommending the appropriate climate budget and policies
  • Requiring the Government to set a decarbonisation target range for each sector. The Minister with primary responsibility for each sector will be accountable for delivering the relevant actions to meet the sectoral target and for reporting annually on the delivery of their actions and the achievement of sectoral emission targets
  • Giving the Oireachtas a central role in the setting of the carbon budget and overseeing progress to delivery
  • Banning the sale of fossil fuel cars by 2030
  • Establishing that the Climate Action Plan shall be updated annually, with actions in every sector

Minister Bruton said,

Minister Bruton said: “We must act now and leave a better, healthier, more sustainable Ireland for future generations. Accountability is the key to making progress. We have a very short time to act. We must put in place a strong framework to ensure every sector, every policy, every decision delivers on the transformation that is required. Today represents a hugely important step in putting in place the necessary arrangements to achieve this objective.”

Climate Action Council: The 2019 Climate Action Plan commits to establish the Climate Action Council (the Council), which will replace the existing Climate Change Advisory Council. The Plan also describes additional powers which the successor Council will possess, in addition to the existing powers set out under sections 11, 12 and 13 of the 2015 Act.

Head 6 makes provision for the name change while head 7 introduces amendments to effect the following:

  • Inclusion of a fifth ex-officio ordinary member of the Climate Action Council – the Director of the Irish National Meteorological Service, Met Éireann
  • A requirement that in so far as is practicable there will be gender balance on the Council
  • That all Council members including the Chairperson will serve a maximum of two terms
  • That the Council will benefit from the capacity to retain expertise over time by members serving staggered terms of office
  • The Climate Action Council will establish an advisory committee in relation to climate adaptation

Head 8 provides that the Climate Action Council will be given new functions to provide recommendations to the Minister on the development and adoption of a series of appropriate economy wide carbon budgets (each covering a five year period) as per the requirements of the Climate Action Plan.

Heads 9 and 10 provide for updating and streamlining the performance review responsibilities of the Council with regard to its new function on carbon budgets while also updating requirements for a periodic review.

Carbon Budgets

The Climate Action Plan 2019 indicates that the Bill will introduce the adoption of carbon budgets as a legal requirement. In this regard, the draft General Scheme outlines that the Government will adopt a system of carbon budgets as part of a grouping of three five-year periods calculated on an economy-wide basis, starting with the periods 2021 to 2025, 2026 to 2030, and 2031 to 2035.

Head 12 which deals with the setting of carbon budgets, provides that the Climate Action Council is to advise the Minister on the appropriate three five-year carbon budgets and, based on this advice, the Minister will prepare three five-year carbon budgets for Government approval. These will include the recommended carbon budget permitted in each five-year carbon budget period and a decarbonisation range for each relevant sector for the five-year period within the ceiling of the proposed carbon budgets.

The head further provides that once adopted, the Minister shall propose a motion in  the Oireachtas to consider the carbon budget. If the  Government’s proposed carbon budget is rejected, then the Minister shall present an alternative budget (approved by Government) within a specified time period taking account of any recommendations made by the Oireachtas.

Long-term target

Work is continuing to finalise the government’s Long Term Climate Strategy to 2050. A public consultation on the Strategy closed on 31st December and the submissions received are now being reviewed. The long term strategy will set our 2050 climate target, which will then  inform the legal provision to be drafted for inclusion in the Climate Action (Amendment) Bill 2019. The Government has already backed the adoption of a net zero target at EU level and will continue to support this level of ambition going forward.

Banning the sale of fossil fuel cars by 2030

A draft Head is being developed in consultation with the relevant Government Departments to address the commitment in the National Development Plan and Climate Action Plan to introduce legislation to ban the registration of new fossil fuel cars from 2030 and to stop the granting of NCTs from 2045 (Head 16 is acting as a placeholder). In effect, from 2030 it will not be possible to register any new car which runs on fossil fuel. This will be developed further in consultation with the relevant Departments concerned and will be submitted to Government for approval in the New Year.