This year Bike Week looks a little different. We’ve organised online meetings, info sessions and working groups since March, and so we’re using this experience to bring you a series of webinars with guests from Ireland, Europe, and the USA.
Bike Parking and the Bottom Line
The Covid-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on local businesses and retail in Galway city and county. We’re all living our lives more locally these days and government advice is to walk or cycle where possible. International research and the experience of Dublin shows that quality and inclusive bike parking is an investment in local and loyal customers.
His Excellency, Adriaan Palm, Ambassador at The Netherlands Embassy to Ireland
Chris Bruntlett, Dutch Cycling Embassy and co-author of Building the Cycling City: The Dutch Blueprint for Urban Vitality
Richard Guiney, CEO of Dublin Town
Clodagh Colleran, Development Studies Association of Ireland, Trinity College Dublin
MOTHERLOAD, virtual community screening in Galway and Q&A with director Liz Canning
Date: Sunday, 27 September 2020, 7.30pm – 10pm
Our grand finale to Bike Week 2020 is hosting MOTHERLOAD as a virtual community screening and covideo party. We’re delighted that director Liz Canning will join us for a Q&A on Zoom immediately afterward for a panel discussion with urban liveability and health experts.
This 86 minute documentary from the USA captures a new mother’s quest to understand the increasing isolation and disconnection of modern life, its planetary impact, and how cargo bikes could be an antidote. It won a Sundance Special Jury Prize in 2019.
Join the covideo party on Twitter using the hashtags #MOTHERLOAD #MOTHERLOADgalway
Post-screening Q&A with
Liz Canning, director of MOTHERLOAD
Neasa Bheilbigh, Galway Cycle Bus
Síle Ginnane, co-founder of Better Ennis
Jo Sachs-Elderidge, organiser of the Leitrim Cycling Festival and co-author of A Vision for Cycling in Rural Ireland by the Rural Cycling Collective
Join us this Saturday 18 July 2020 for CycleCoffeeCake at 10.30am from Nimmo’s Pier through our vibrant city centre and ending at the wonderful Ciarlantini of Woodquay. This is a gentle inclusive cycle for new or nearly-new adults on bikes. All ages and abilities are welcome. We particularly welcome mams who want some confidence before cycling with their children to school in September. Please register – we have limited numbers and need details for contact tracing.
CycleCoffeeCake is a new initiative of the Galway Cycling Campaign and aims to encourage new, nearly-new, and returning cyclers to hop on their saddles and join together in gentle, inclusive cycles around Galway city.
The event particularly welcomes women on bikes, especially mums who want to get more confident cycling around the city before the school year begins, and women of all ages and abilities who are returning to cycling. The bike boom of 2020 is a result of these two groups buying bikes in Galway, and indeed across Ireland.
Galway Cycling Campaign hopes to encourage those who want to become more comfortable cycling and those who would enjoy some support as they gain confidence in cycling around the city.
Please register for this Saturday’s event for contract tracing purposes. Numbers are limited. People who arrive on the day without signing-up will not be accommodated.
Saturday 18 July 2020 10.30am – 12 noon Meet: Claddagh Hall, Nimmo’s Pier Route: Galway city centre routes, detours, things to watch out for, and bike parking spots Coffee & Cake: Cafe Bar Ciarlantini, Woodquay
The inaugural CycleCoffeeCake event took place last month and the sounds of chats and bell chimes was heard as the group cycled from the Claddagh Hall to Blackrock before enjoying coffee and cake sponsored by Kevin Nugent and Ground & Co in Salthill.
CycleCoffeeCake sponsor: Bar Italia Ciarlantini of Woodquay
This month, CycleCoffeeCake will again start at 10.30am at the Claddagh Hall and explore routes around the city centre, show useful detours away from major routes, and point out bike parking. The social cycle will end in Woodquay at Bar Italia Ciarlantini.
Lolita of Ciarlantini will sponsor coffee and cake for the first 15 registrations.
Martina Callanan, spokesperson for Galway Cycling Campaign, said, “Cycling is an easy, fun activity for people of all ages and abilities. We want to show newbies and novices safe and pleasant bike trails across the city that end at local cafés where we can enjoy coffee, cake and chats.”
“As we kickstart the economy, we want to support our friends and neighbours who own local businesses, especially those that have safe and secure bicycle parking nearby,” she added.
Kevin Jennings, chairperson of the Galway Cycling Campaign, commented, “As we look ahead to schools reopening in a few weeks, we want to help parents, particularly mams, feel more comfortable cycling their kids to school, especially if they do not have a local Cycle Bus. CycleCoffeeCake is a great way for adults to meet with others who feel the same way and to share tips from more experienced people on bikes.”
As the route will be on roads shared with buses, vans and cars in the city centre, numbers will be limited and only those who have registered in advance will be able to participate.
Keep an eye on our social media @GalwayCycling on Twitter and Facebook.
The people of Galway have clearly said, ‘We want a safe cycle lane on the Prom for our families during Covid-19.’ We are disappointed that our Councillors have not asked the Chief Executive to apply for special Covid-19 funds through the National Transport Authority (NTA), which would fund the proposed pop-up cycle lane along the Prom, plus more pedestrian crossings and extensive bike parking. Given that future permanent cycle facilities are now tied to the development of flood defences, nothing will happen in Salthill for years and years. The status quo remains: families will continue to share the road with buses, cars, and vans.
“The people of Galway have clearly said, ‘We want a safe cycle lane on the Prom for our families during Covid-19.’ Over 200 of the 1400 public submissions for covid mobility measures received by the Council were for a Salthill cycle lane.
Yesterday, our flashmob gathering on the Prom vibrantly showed that people of all ages and abilities want safe cycling and mobility infrastructure during coronavirus.
“We are disappointed that our Councillors have not asked the Chief Executive to apply for special Covid-19 funds through the National Transport Authority (NTA), which would fund the proposed pop-up cycle lane along the Prom, plus more pedestrian crossings and extensive bike parking.
“Given that future permanent cycle facilities are now tied to the development of flood defences, nothing will happen in Salthill for years and years. The status quo remains: families will continue to share the road with buses, cars, and vans.
“Now, we must turn our energies towards creating safe routes to schools when they reopen at the end of August. Social distancing will be with us for as long as this killer virus is present.
“We need to enable children and teenagers to walk and cycle safely to school, especially as bus capacity has shrunk and parents may have concerns about car-pooling between different families.”
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.
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.”
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Who we are
Galway Cycling Campaign is a voluntary group which represents cyclists in Galway. We promote cycling as a common and accessible form of transport with the goal of creating a more liveable Galway for everyone.