More and more cyclists are on our roads, choosing a faster, cheaper and independent transport option for moving through our cities and towns. The upswing of more people cycling are reduced congestion, cleaner air, and healthier people. Over half of short journeys (less than 2km) are by car in Ireland. We want more people to feel better and safer about switching to bikes. We have 10 Asks for our general election candidates. Here’s our summary.
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. Seville, Leeds, Manchester show it is possible to apply the lessons of the Netherlands and Denmark.
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. This applies to county towns and villages as much as our cities.
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.
IT’S AS EASY AS ABC
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.
Martina Callanan, project manager, is the representative of Galway Cycling Campaign on Cyclist.ie, the Irish Cycling Advocacy Network.
Galway Cycling Campaign is the voice of everyday cyclists in Galway. We want to make Galway cycling-friendly.
Cyclist.ie, the Irish Cycling Advocacy Network (ICAN) is the federation of Cycling Advocacy Groups Greenway Groups and Bike Festivals on the island of Ireland. We are the Irish member of the European Cyclists’ Federation.
Our 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.