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Cyclist.ie in Erasmus at Corella

Back in September 2017, we were delighted to be contacted – completely out of the blue – by Toño Peña, the Vice-President of Biciclistas de Corella, a Spanish organisation promoting the bicycle as a means of transport. He was inquiring to see if Cyclist.ie would like to be a partner in an Erasmus+ project funding application he was leading on. The project was to be all about social inclusion, youth empowerment and sustainable transport. The answer was an emphatic ‘yes’!

Roll on March 2019, and after many months of SKYPE calls, emails, Garda vetting of volunteers and navigating labyrinthine forms for EU projects, we were part of an exciting partnership and on our way to the lovely town of Corella in the the region of Navarra. In the intervening period, Cyclist.ie had teamed up with Green Schools Ireland, and the other project partners were Frie Fugle and Cycling Without Age from Denmark, a youth association (LAG Suduva) from Lithuania, and the Alhama High School and Biciclistas de Corella in Spain. Crucially, on board with the adults from the cycling and environmental organisations above were school children from all four participating countries – around half a dozen from each. The pupils from Ireland came from St. Tiernan’s Community School in Dundrum. The adults comprised Dr. Damien Ó Tuama from Cyclist.ie, Jane Hackett from Green Schools, Martina O’Shea linked to the school, and Allison Roberts from Clonakilty Bicycle Festival (who was joined by her partner Justin and three year old Ari, all of whom were on bigger bicycling and camper-van adventures in Spain and Portugal at the time!).

All 40+ participants who travelled to Corella were treated to a wonderfully diverse and amazingly action-packed week of activities. We have to say that the crew from Biciclistas de Corella were the best hosts ever! Each day was jam-packed with formal and informal, indoor and outdoor, day-time and night-time activities of every type imaginable. Some of the highlights included a tree planting workshop, a lovely 40km cycle through a farming region to Fitero, a trip to the Bardenas Desert with a picnic and barbeque afterwards, a dancing workshop, a pottery-making session, singing jotas with the residents of the nursing home and then heading out with them on a Cycling Without Age trishaw, evening time dinners with home-made food provided by locals, visits to wineries, a trip to Pamplona and visiting the palace of Navarra, tortilla-making workshops, meeting the Mayor of Corella, visits to cathedrals….. and lots of presentations on cycling and cycle tourism. It is exhausting listing even some of our activities! Most importantly, we got a lovely warm welcome from the hosts and from everyone we met in the school and on our trips.

The first project meeting definitely succeeded in getting cycling campaigners and school pupils from four quite different countries swapping ideas with each other over the course of the week. It was educational, sociable and a breathe of fresh air for us all. Take a bow Toño, Cristina, Quique, Chivvy and team!

The next ‘mobility’ or trip for the project participants will be to Dublin in June and – as per the funding application submitted over a year ago – the plan is for the group to be here during the same week as the Velo-city Cycling Planning Conference at the end of June. As far as is possible, we will aim to knit into some of the Velo-city events such as the Cycle Parade and other side events, and Toño Peña himself will be presenting at the conference. Further trips will be to Copenhagen in October and Lithuania in mid 2020 – and then there will be a additional trip back to Ireland in 2021 and we are exploring the idea of heading to Clonakilty for the bicycle festival!

To hear more about the project, pop along to the public meeting of Dublin Cycling Campaign taking place on Monday 8th of April – details here – and/or get in contact with Cyclist.ie’s National Cycling Coordinator.

Liffey cycle route selected after seven years of plans

The route for a 5km cycle path along the river Liffey in Dublin has finally been selected by the National Transport Authority (NTA) seven years since planning for the project began.

The segregated cycle route from the Phoenix Park in the west to the Tom Clarke Bridge in the east is expected to cost more than €20 million and will run on both sides of the river.

More than 100 car parking spaces and 33 trees will be removed to facilitate the track, but unlike previous plans, cars or buses will not be diverted from the quays.

Read article (Irish Times)

Greenway chair: local councils need to co-ordinate their plans

NORMA PRENDIVILLE – normap@limerickleaderie

More than three decades after the Great Southern Trail Group was established, one of its founder members and current chairman, Liam O’Mahony has been invited to address the conference of the European Greenways Association on the issue of citizen involvement.

The conference, which takes place in Spain next week, has attracted participants from countries all over Europe including a speaker from the Department of Transport and Tourism who will outline the Irish strategy in developing Greenways.

Speaking to the Limerick Leader in advance of the conference, Mr O’Mahony said the building of an underpass to Barnagh Tunnel, currently underway, was to be welcomed.

The application by Kerry County Council for funds to develop two stretches of the old Great Southern railway line from the Limerick border to Listowel and from Tralee to Fenit was also a positive, he said.

But he questioned whether there was “joined-up” thinking between the Kerry and Limerick councils on the matter and argued that an opportunity was being missed to e develop a national greenway.

“It appears that both councils are working independently of each other” Mr O’Mahony said. “Kerry is not even using the Great e Southern tag in their two projects.

“Both councils have also failed to highlight that the railway route is 100km long,” he pointed out.

He is also concerned that the momentum that was injected when Limerick City and County Council took over management of the Limerick trail in 2016 has faded.

“A grand plan is one. Implementation is something else.”

And he has voiced concern that the Great Southern Trail group, is once again being sidelined. When the idea of a trail along the railway line was first raised, Shannon Development ignored the group and effectively “created the opposition among landowners”, he said. For ten years, Mr O’Mahony said, the trail group was “regarded as an undesirable element.”

But the group persisted in its plan, gradually doing stretches of the line and gained recognition. Now, Mr O’Mahony feels the group is again being ignored. “Now everybody seems to be consulted except us’ he said. “Anything suggested by us has been put on the long finger,” he said.

And he includes in this, a suggestion from the trail group to site artefacts of railway heritage along the route. These include old wagons, wheels etc. which could be adapted to new purposes but would serve as reminders of the past.

The group however, is particularly concerned about preserving the integrity of the line.

“When the GST Group was developing 40km of the old railway line in Limerick, it prevailed, despite trenchant opposition form some sources, in preserving the integrity of the route,” Mr O’Mahony said.

“It is a matter of much regret that in 2017, Limerick City and County Council failed to develop a stretch from Rathkeale to Ballingrane Junction due to local opposition. To compound this failure, there are indications the council is now contemplating a deviation from the already developed 40km Greenway to facilitate one individual.”

This is totally unacceptable to the Trail Group, he continued, and could set a precedent for further deviation in the yet to be developed stretches of the line.

“Our position is clear: State-owned railway routes are not up for grabs by private individuals.” he said.

How to get more women cycling in cities

To cut greenhouse gas emissions we need to increase cyclist numbers and that means getting more women on their bikes

So much of the world around us is designed for men; from the mundane (public toilets and smartphones) to the potentially deadly (stab vests and crash test dummies). My own research, recently launched at the C40 Women4Climate conference, revealed similar trends in how we design cities and formulate transport policy, with devastating consequences.

Transportation accounts for up to one-third of greenhouse gas emissions from the world’s biggest cities and traffic is the largest source of toxic air pollution. To create sustainable, healthy and liveable cities, we need to increase the number of cyclists on our streets, and that means getting more women on their bikes. In San Francisco, only 29% of cyclists are women; in Barcelona, there are three male cyclists for every female cyclist; in London, 37% of cyclists are female.

So what can cities do to get more women cycling?

Read article from the Guardian Bike Blog

Safer, rounder trucks to hit the roads next year

The introduction date for more aerodynamic, safer truck cabs on Europe’s roads will be brought forward to 1 September 2020, EU lawmakers agreed yesterday. The European federation of transport NGOs, Transport & Environment (T&E), welcomed the reform which will speed the roll-out of more rounded truck fronts that allow drivers to better see pedestrians and cyclists and improve fuel efficiency.

Under the changes agreed last night, truckmakers will be permitted an additional 80-90cm of cab length in return for improving the aerodynamics, vision, safety and driver comfort of the truck cab.

James Nix, T&E’s freight and climate director, said: “For decades EU law prohibited truckmakers from producing more streamlined, rounded cabs, holding back safety and aerodynamics. Today’s decision puts an end to this and paves the way for more fuel efficient and safer trucks to hit the road from next year, many years earlier than previously agreed.”

Today’s trucks account for 2% of vehicles on the road but 15% of fatalities, amounting to 4,000 deaths every year across Europe. Around 1,000 of these deaths are cyclists and pedestrians. Combined with other design changes, the reform will also enable emissions reductions and fuel savings of up to 10% from long-haul trucks.

On 21 February, legislators will decide on another key reform – the introduction of a ‘direct vision’ standard for new trucks in the General Safety Regulation – in a vote by the European Parliament’s internal market committee (IMCO). The standard is expected to set out the area surrounding a truck cab the driver must be able to see without using mirrors or cameras, thus improving safety for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists.

James Nix concluded: “The design change just agreed will help consign the brick-shaped cab to history. However, unlike for cars, there is still no minimum area of the road that truck drivers must be able to see directly. MEPs should now pass the direct vision standard which will go a step further in making Europe’s roads safer for all.”

T&E noted that the reform of truck cab design has taken place in less than nine months, showing that the EU can move speedily. The proposal was published as part of the mobility reform package in mid-May 2018.

Cork Rallies for Safer Cycling

Cork Cycling Campaign Rallies for Better Protection for Cyclists;
Corkonians Rally for Safe, Usable Cycle Lanes

People who support cycling held their first rally outside City Hall on 11 February this evening. The rally was organised by the Cork Cycling Campaign to highlight problems experienced in the city, particularly vehicles stopping or parking in dedicated cycle lanes. The rally called for measures to make the city’s cycle lanes fit for purpose and safe for cycling.

The rally coincided with motions from Cllr Fiona Ryan (Solidarity Party) before the city council to install protective barriers in places where parking in cycle lanes is a persistent problem. These include South Main Street, Washington Street, and Alfred Street. Barriers are already routinely used across the city and have been installed between vehicular traffic lanes on Washington Street as recently as last month.

Cork Cycling Campaign pointed out that the rally shows how strongly people who cycle feel about vehicles parked in cycle lanes. First and foremost, this practise threatens the safety of people cycling. When drivers park cars or vans in cycle lanes, cyclists must swerve into another traffic lane and mix with fast, heavy vehicles. This poses a grave danger for unprotected road users. Such manoeuvres intimidate many people, especially children and inexperienced cyclists. Safeguarding cycle lanes is also a matter of mutual respect between different road users. Parking in cycle lanes disregards the needs of other road users, including buses which must wait for a break in traffic to manoeuvre around a parked car.

Full Press Release

Submissions to Joint Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action

The recent IPCC report clearly spells out the urgent need to reduce carbon emissions in order to limit global warming to 1.5°C. To minimise environmental damage and fines arising from the failure to meet Ireland’s climate change targets, the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport must adopt much more ambitious climate actions than currently outlined

In Ireland’s draft EU mandated National Energy and Climate Plan there’s a failure to acknowledge the contribution that cycling can make in this regard.

See below for reports

Cyclist.ie submission and An Taisce submission

Cork Council gives go ahead for plans for Greenway route

A Greenway route for Co. Cork is a step closer after councillors gave the go ahead to outline planning permission for the 23km route

Business and tourism interests in Midleton and Youghal along Ireland’s ‘Ancient East’ have welcomed the unanimous vote which now allows the council to formalise the leasing of the railway line from Iarnród Éireann

It is estimated the initial cost of the project will be €19.1m

Read article