A warm welcome to Minister Hildegarde Naughton

Galway Cycling Campaign warmly welcomes the news that Hildegard Naughton will serve as Junior Minister in the Department of Transport in An Taoiseach Micheál Martin’s Government. 

Minister Hildegarde Naughton

Kevin Jennings, chairperson of the Galway Cycling Campaign said, “We congratulate Minister Naughton on her appointment to the Department of Transport. This is good news for Galway city and county.

Minister Naughton regularly engages with us on cycling issues and our ongoing Change Our Streets movement for more space and less speed for people walking and cycling.

As former chair of the cross-party Joint Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action, Minister Naughton understands the intimately intertwined social and economic challenges of congestion, public health, and quality of life.

The Programme for Government rightly recognises cycling as a sustainable solution to these collective challenges.

We all want Galway to be a safer, healthier and happier city and county for all ages and abilities to live, learn, work, and play.

We look forward to working with Minister Naughton to make cycling a very real and very safe option for all.”

Addressing the Teen Cycling Gender Gap – Research and Action

An online public meeting for parents, teachers, and youth workers about trying to understand the gender gap in lower cycling rates among teenage girls will be held by Galway Cycling Campaign on Thursday 2 July at 7.30pm on Zoom.

An Taisce Green-Schools staff will address the meeting and share how the #AndSheCycles campaign supports schools and teenage girls to start cycling and stay cycling.

#AndSheCycles is a campaign by An Taisce Green-Schools to encourage young women to cycle, especially teenage girls. Photo: An Tasice Green-Schools

Green-Schools have been working with schools around the country to increase cycling numbers for over ten years.

In Ireland, just 2.1% of teenagers cycle to secondary school. In The Netherlands, that figure is 75%.

New research and a public awareness campaign looks at what needs to be done to enable teenage girls – and their parents – to feel more comfortable and confident cycling everyday.

Allison Phillips, Cycling Development Officer with Green-Schools, said, “An Taisce-Green Schools supports schools and teenage girls through training, funding, campaigns, and audits of cycling routes to school. We have been working with schools around the country to increase cycling numbers for over ten years. The #AndSheCycles campaign works with teenage girls across Ireland shine a light on barriers that are preventing them from cycling and help girls get – or get back on – their bikes.”

Allison Phillips and Robert Egan of An Taisce Green-Schools will address a public meeting for parents, teachers and youth workers about cycling and teenage girls.

Green-Schools are exploring the cycling gender gap among teenagers to understand its origins and find creative ways to increase cycling to school amongst teenage girls.

“The #AndSheCycles research is ongoing and we intend publishing results in early 2021, “ said Robert Egan, Secondary Schools Travel Officer, a researcher who recently completed a PhD at Trinity College Dublin on gender and everyday cycling.

He continued, “Young women, particularly teenagers, face concerns that most people on bikes face, such as feeling unsafe sharing roads with HGVs and vans due to a lack of cycle lanes. However, teenage girls also deal with social issues such as peer pressure and harassment on the roads from drivers and young men.”

Cycling is seen as something for boys and not for girls. What is emerging from the research are reflections for parents, teachers and policy makers about how teenage cycling is gendered and how this process of gendering can be neutralised. We want girls to enjoy the same access to cycling and the same feelings of freedom that boys enjoy.

In 2016, only 694 secondary school girls across Ireland cycled regularly to school and over 2,000 drove themselves, while in 1986 there were over 19,000 girls cycling to school, according to Census data provided by the Central Statistics Office.

The #AndSheCycles campaign by An Taisce Green-Schools supports schools and teenage girls to start cycling and stay cycling. Photo: Green-Schools

Happily Galway remains one of the highest rates of cycling to school in the country. And yet, the gender gap is stark.

Of the children in Galway aged 5 to 18 years who cycle to education, about 73% are male and 27% are female, according to Census 2016 data from the Central Statistics Office. 

Cécile Robin, Secretary of Galway Cycling Campaign, commented, “We’ve seen with the school strikes last year that young people are highly engaged with climate action. The bicycle does three things: gives a freedom machine to young women, gives back time to mum and dad who no longer need to act as a frequent private taxi service, and creates life-long habits for good mental health while also reducing carbon emissions.”

“Teenagers want independence. Parents want their children to be safe, “ commented Neasa Bheilbigh, teacher and co-organiser of the Galway Cycle Bus for primary school children.

We want to make cycling a very real and safe option for all who would like to choose to do so.

This event will give parents, teachers, youth workers and policy makers things to consider as we look ahead to schools re-opening in September.”

Log-in details for the online event on Zoom this Thursday 2 July 2020 are available by emailing [email protected]

#AndSheCycles is a campaign by An Taisce Green-Schools to support teenage girls to cycle.

Opinion: The programme for government is like a visit from Santa for cyclists

COULD IT REALLY be that Santa has arrived six months and one week ahead of schedule? In the programme for government, we are told that €1 million euro a day, every day, will be invested in safer cycling and walking during the lifetime of the next government.

This Opinion piece first appeared in TheJournal.ie on Thursday 25 June, 2020.

Image: Sascha Kohlmann/Wikimedia

Not so long ago, buses, vans and Ford Cortinas vroomed through the towns and cities of Ireland. Just two decades later, we hope to move ever closer to safe strolling, an abundance of food offerings, street conversations, and bike bells. Investment in cycling and walking in the programme for government is a smart and progressive deal for transport, health and revitalising town centres.

Hopefully, this time next year, we will have spent €360 million on cycling and pedestrian infrastructure, more than has ever been spent before. Investing almost €1 million a day, every day, for the lifetime of the programme for government means that people in Irish cities, towns, villages and suburbs will enjoy safer, more vibrant and attractive streets.

With an emphasis on quality and oversight, these efforts, if agreed and implemented, could make the places we live better for people, business, the environment and our sense of community.  

Cycling is the solution to a myriad of intimately intertwined social and economic problems of congestion, public health, and quality of life. And since cycling does not produce emissions, it reduces air pollution and carbon as well.

And as many of us rediscovered recently due to the coronavirus lockdown, cycling is social, fun, and inexpensive.

Cycling doesn’t make sense for everyone and that’s ok. But we want to get those within cycling distance to the places they need to be on a daily basis to feel cycling is a very real and very safe option. 

The bike boom of 2020

The bike boom of 2020 is a global phenomenon. Bicycles are sold as fast as they are assembled. People are waiting for bike orders to be delivered in August. Bike repair services are rammed.

With the absence of HGVs, vans, and the school commute during the lockdown, unoccupied roads turned into urban parks with families and small crews of happy teenagers strolling, cycling, and scooting.  Empty car parks became cycle training grounds for very young children. We have found that women, especially, felt a little braver when it came to cycling in this time:

“For the first time in 12 years,” said Anne Bedos of Café Rothar in Dublin’s Phibsborough, “we are selling more bikes to women than to men.”

Bikes are selling as fast as they can be assembled. Pictured: West Ireland Cycling, Galway’s Westend

More space, less speed

Everyone is a pedestrian, whether they’re standing at the bus stop or walking to their car. A safe street is where you’d let your five-year-old play with peace of mind. According to Prof. Kevin Leyden of NUI Galway, ‘‘If we want to get more people cycling, we need to make cycling feel safer. Key to that is slowing the speed of cars and providing a cycling infrastructure that reduces the probability that cyclists will be killed or injured by motorists.”  

If this programme for government goes ahead, towns with smart travel strategies will have funding and expertise to develop comprehensive networks of safe paths and attractive lanes connecting commuters to their workplaces and children and teenagers on safe routes to their schools. 

Residential areas need to be conveniently connected to retail and recreational spaces. Protected footpaths and cycle lanes need to be considered as ‘mobility lanes’ and be comfortable for people using wheelchairs, adapted bicycles and adult tricycles.

The seven new Regional Cycle Design Offices promised in the programme would expand and enhance the expertise available to support local authorities. Every local authority would be supported by a Cycling Officer. Along with the funding, this emphasis on expertise and quality infrastructure would be a game-changer.

Slow down

The commitment to reduce speed limits doesn’t grab headlines, yet slower speeds and their enforcement are a huge part of what it takes to get more people cycling and walking.

Mairéad Forsythe of Love 30, Ireland’s campaign for lower speed limits, says, “Reducing speed limits in towns, villages and cities to 30 km/h will make our roads safer for people walking and cycling. It lowers the risk of collisions and the risk of injuries. Most important of all, slower streets make our neighbourhoods more pleasant places to live, shop, and work, and for children to play.”

Dublin City already has cross-party support for a 30 km/h speed limit almost everywhere within the M50. If our capital city can decide to do this, so can every town, village and suburb. 

We want more people cycling, and more types of people cycling. Measuring only fatalities and injuries is crude. We need ambitious targets for children cycling to primary and secondary school, in particular teenage girls. In Ireland, just 2.1% of teenagers cycle to secondary school. In The Netherlands, that figure is 75%. 

Lessons from abroad

Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Green Party have clearly incorporated international evidence into the programme for government. From Seattle to Sydney, cities are being radically reshaped in favour of people walking and cycling.

The Belgian port city of Ghent implemented a light, quick and cheap traffic circulation plan in 2017 and witnessed a 60% rise in cycle use. It reached its target of 35% cycling last year, 13 years earlier than planned for. There has been a 17% increase in restaurant and bar startups.

Galway city, towns and villages will now have the funds and expertise to build connected networks of safe and separate cycle baths. Photo: Galway Tourism

Before coronavirus, the Mayor of Paris unveiled her plans to transform Paris into a ‘15-minute city’ of self-sufficient neighbourhoods with grocery shops, parks, sports facilities, and schools just a walk or bike-ride away.  

Since then, Mayor Anne Hidalgo has urged ‘those who can’ to cycle plus announced a €300 million investment to install up to 650 km of new temporary and permanent bicycle lanes. This is about three times the length of the total Paris Métro network.

Return on investment

European research last year showed that every 1-kilometre drive costs the public purse €0.11 in terms of congestion, pollution, and time. Every 1-kilometre cycle brings a benefit of €0.18. Walking is even better. Each 1-kilometre walk adds €0.37 to economy and society in terms of improved public health, tourism, and quality of life.

Journey times

More than 23,000 people live within a 10 minutes cycle of Carlow Post Office, for instance. Over half of all journeys by adults in Ireland are 6 km or less, according to the Central Statistics Office. This is a comfortable distance on a bike for most people – providing you have a bike and a safe route to go where you want to go.

Over 76,000 people in Galway City live within a 30 min gentle cycle of Eyre Square. E-bikes will make commuting easier from Oranmore, Bearna and beyond.

Get bikes, get cycling

We need to help people purchase bikes and get cycling. The Cycle to Work Scheme is a good start. The same wide access for e-car grants must be made possible for bike grants. New help to buy e-bikes and cargo bikes is particularly welcome. Bike share schemes should be expanded and include e-bikes and e-scooters. 

“Sharing schemes are low cost and e-bikes help cities reduce congestion and meet climate change targets,” says Colin Barry, founder of Brite Mobility, Galway. “The motor’s assistance level attracts users who would have been afraid of the exertion of cycling before.”

So, what happens now?

Immediately, each local authority will be mandated to assess where road space can be re-allocated for walking and cycling. We want plans to be audited for quality and involve input from local communities.

Bike parking

Already, we have heard government radio ads asking us to cycle and walk where possible. Children need to be able to park their bikes at sports grounds.

Like wildflowers, we expect to see bike parking sprouting up everywhere – outside local shops, cafés, retail parks, parks, and beaches. Wherever bikes are tied to poles, there should be bike parking.

Bikes are good for business

Local businesses can request installation of quality bicycle stands from their local authorities. Customers by bike are local and loyal. Cycle parking delivers five times the retail spend per square metre than the same area of car parking, according to Transport for London research

Safe cycling for all

By this time next year, I hope we will have experienced a major cultural shift in transport policy, in moving people safely and sustainably around our towns, villages and cities. Cycling will be seen as the solution to congestion, a key contributor to better public health, and a powerful tool in developing a better quality of life for all of our people. 

Cycling has arrived and there’s no going back. Let’s pedal onwards to our new normal.

Martina Callanan is the spokesperson for Galway Cycling Campaign and a member of the Executive Council of Cyclist.ie – the Irish Cycling Advocacy Network, helps organise CycleCoffeeCake for women and novices on bikes, works in strategic communications, and tweets at @MartinaCallanan and @GalwayCycling.

Chief Superintendent supports 30km/h speed limit for safer cycling in Galway city

Chief Superintendent Tom Curley gave his support to reduce Galway city speed limit to 30 km/h to make streets safer for everyone at the Joint Policing Committee today, Monday. He was responding to a question from Cllr Níall McNelis, chair of the Joint Policing Committee, who asked for garda support to make Galway’s streets safer for families and older people walking and people cycling. The Chief Superintendent said that a 30 km/h speed limit was already being discussed to improve safety for cycling and is supported by Inspector Peter Conlon and Superintendent Damien Flanagan.

Galway Cycling Campaign warmly welcomes support from the Garda and the Chair of Joint Policing Committee, Níall McNelis, for a 30 km/h speed limit for safer cycling and safer streets for people of all ages and abilities.

This comes after a public meeting last week about the benefits of lower speed limits hosted by Galway Cycling Campaign, which was addressed by Prof Kevin Leyden of NUI Galway, Maria Delaney of Noteworthy, and Mairéad Forsythe of Love 30. Rod King, founder and campaign director of 20’s Plenty for Us, attended the online meeting and said that he will address the annual Road Safety Authority conference in the autumn.

Love 30 to Change Our Streets, a public event about the benefits of lower speed limits, was hosted online by the Galway Cycling Campaign on Wednesday, 17 June 2020

Spokesperson Martina Callanan said lower city speed limits are becoming more common in European cities such as Athens, Milan and Brussels and thanked the Garda for their support.

Slower speeds will give parents peace of mind to bring small children into the city centre to shop and dine, when children play and cycle outside their homes, and as children and teenagers walk and cycle to school. We want to thank An Garda for their support for lower speeds to make Galway a safer and nice place to live, shop, and play.

Martina Callanan, spokesperson for Galway Cycling Campaign

Mairéad Forsythe of Love 30, Ireland’s campaign for lower speed limits, was in attendance at today’s meeting. She commented on the Chief Superintendent’s remarks.

Introducing a 30 km/h speed limit would be a significant achievement for road safety in Galway. It will make our roads safer for people walking, cycling and driving. Most important of all, slower streets make our neighbourhoods more pleasant places to live, work and for children to play.

Mairéad Forsythe of Love 30

Chairperson of Galway Cycling Campaign, Kevin Jennings, also attended and warmly welcomed the support of An Garda for slower speed limits.

The typical road speed limit of 50 km/h does not feel fast if you are behind a windscreen. The research is stark: speed is the biggest contributing factor to road deaths in Ireland. If a person walking is hit by a person driving a car at 50 km/h, there is a 50% chance that person will die. At 60 km/h – that’s only 10 km faster – 9 in 10 pedestrians will die.

Kevin Jennings, chairperson of the Galway Cycling Campaign

He added, “Slower speed limits have an added benefit of improving traffic flow. Scientific models show motor traffic flowing more steadily at lower speeds in congested networks.”

A city with safe streets is one where children can walk, cycle and play

CycleCoffeeCake celebrates cycling during lockdown

The second CycleCoffeeCake social cycle for women and novices on bikes will take place this Saturday morning, 27 June 2020. Please join us, especially if you or someone you know is new to cycling or has hopped back on the saddle since lockdown.

Register here for CycleCoffeeCake #2 event hosted by Galway Cycling Campaign. This is a gentle, inclusive cycle for adults new to cycling or who would like some support to become more confident cycling everyday around Galway. All ages and abilities are welcome.

We particularly want to support women as Covid-19 research shows that there has been a surge in women cycling and women are the biggest group of new-bike buyers.

Event details

Saturday, 27 June 2020
10.30 am – 12 noon
Start: Claddagh Hall, Nimmo’s PierRoute: Grattan Road, city centre and canals
Destination: Woodquay

Sponsor: Bar Italia Ciarlantini

Grazie to Bar Italia Ciarlantini, Woodquay, for sponsoring this second edition of #CycleCoffeeCake

And a very special Happy 4th Birthday to Lolita and all the staff at Ciarlantini. Congratulazioni! Thank you for creating a little piece of Italy in Galway.

Bar Italia Ciarlantini – a little piece of Italy in bustling Woodquay, Galway

Love 30 to Change Our Streets

World Bicycle Day saw cross-party support for 30 km/h speed limits for Dublin’s city centre and suburbs. We expect Galway to follow suit. Join us for a special guest speaker event this Wednesday, 17 June 2020, from 8 pm to 9 pm about how lower speed limits will make a happier and healthier Galway with investigative journalist Maria Delaney from Newsworthy, Mairéad Forsythe of Love 30 – Ireland’s campaign for lower speed limits, and Prof Kevin Leyden of NUI Galway. Event open to all.

Noteworthy and Love 30 – Ireland’s campaign for lower speed limits join with Galway Cycling Campaign for a special event on the benefits of lower speed limits.

Two weeks ago on World Bicycle Day there was cross-party support for 30 km/h speed limits for Dublin’s city centre and suburbs. Today, Monday 15 June, we expect Galway City Council to announce a similar intention.

This one change to our streets will have an immediate impact on improving road safety. It will also make cycling and walking easier and more pleasant for people of all ages and abilities. 

Lower speed limits will enable road redesign and so with narrower road carriageways there will be more space for cycle paths and wider footpaths. Lower speeds reduce the risk of road traffic collisions, reduce the risk of fatalities, and reduce the risk of life-limiting and life-changing injuries.

Hard and Fast Facts about the impact of speed on fatalities – Source: The Road Safety Authority of Ireland (RSA)

More Space and Less Speed are the two principles of our Change Our Streets campaign.

We are delighted to invite you to a special guest speaker event this Wednesday event at 8 pm on Zoom.

Speakers

The Problem – cycling injuries and fatalities

Maria Delaney, investigative journalist with Noteworthy, a project of TheJournal.ie – Bicycle Blackspots Ireland, part 2: Galway’s Headford Road (April 2019)

The Solution – 30 km/h speed limits in our cities and towns

Mairéad Forsythe, Love 30, Ireland’s campaign for lower speed limits

The Benefits – happier, healthier and safer streets within people-centered communities

Kevin Leyden, Professor of Political Science, Co-Director of the Creative, Liveable and Sustainable Communities Cluster of the Whitaker Institute

Event details

This Wednesday, 17 June 2020
8 pm to 9 pm
‘Doors’ at 7.45 pm
‘Drinks’ afterwards until 9.30 pm

Zoom details

Join Zoom meeting at this link
Meeting ID: 826 4005 1920
Password: 320894
All welcome

Change Our Streets

Less Speed is the second principle of #ChangeOurStreets campaign. We need our Council and Government to lower speed limits and redesign roads to enable adherence to lower speeds. 

Less Speed supports the More Space principle of re-allocating road space to people walking and cycling. 

Join Galway Cycling Campaign

Our public events are free events and open to all. If you’d like to get involved, please join us and our everyday cycling community. Our membership contribution is €10 or €5. If you would like to donate more, you’d be most welcome!

Galway Cycling Campaign is a group of independent volunteers working to create a bike-friendly city and county for people of all ages and abilities.