Countdown Clock to 10% Cycling

As we are fast approaching the government target date of 2020 for the achievement of 10% commuting trips and also 10% of total trips by bike, Maynooth Cycling Campaign decided to add a Countdown Clock to its website to mark the occasion. When we investigated how to do this, we found that there was a computer app (application) available. Based on the this assumption that progress will continue at the rate of the past five years, we estimate that the government target will be achieved in 2048. However, a problem arose, when we tried to set the countdown clock to 2048. The programme would only allow a countdown date of up to twenty years ie 2037. It would not allow a countdown far enough in the future. We managed to get around this however and our Countdown Clock shows that the 2020 target will not be achieved  for another 30 years. Don’t hold your breath!

In Response to an Article in the Leinster Leader by Paul O’Meara

It is not about bikes and parking. The issues are congestion, inactivity in the community, obesity , air and noise pollution and sustainability. This is not to mention the road fatalities and serious accidents in Kildare and 1200 premature deaths nationally according to the EPA. Bicycles and cycle facilities are just tools which will address (not solve) all these problems whereas more cars will just worsen them. Smart cities and towns realise that cars need a disproportionate amount of space for moving and parking and are investing in space efficient modes of transport ie in walking and cycling. Believe it or not, people actually cycle in the snow and rain and some people with disabilities use bicycles as a mobility aid. In relation to current usage of cycle lanes, if roads were low quality, disappear without warning and only cover about 1% of the journeys people want to make, car travel would be at the same level as cycling currently is.

Maynooth Cycling Campaign Notes – July 2017

Bikeweek 2017

After 6 years of organising Bikeweek events, Maynooth Cycling Campaign was not invited to participate in Bikeweek 2017 and consequently received no funding for advertising events.  (For the first time too, schools in Maynooth and Celbridge received no funding either.) Nevertheless, we decided to go ahead with our two events as scheduled. For the Heritage Tour, we travelled to Leixlip for a trail developed by Leixlip Tidy Towns. The second event was a cycle along the Royal Canal exploring the biodiversity of the canal and towpath. Due to lack of advertising, attendances were significantly down on previous years.

 14 Year Old Cyclist Seriously Injured near Monasterevin

There was more bad news for cycling with the collision of a 14 year old boy and a jeep outside Monasterevin. Maynooth Cycling Campaign is appalled at several reports in the media including Kildare Now which described the incident as the cyclist being knocked from his bike when he collided with a jeep on the road. We have no information on who or what was at fault but the report in Kildare Now implied that the cyclist was at fault and follows a familiar pattern where vulnerable road users – be they cyclists or pedestrians – are scapegoated for ‘accidents’ with motorised vehicles. Other reports even included the fact that the driver of the jeep was unhurt, which – considering that the incident involved a jeep and a child – was hardly news!

 Census 2016 and Commuting

The results of Census 2016 on commuting patterns were published recently and revealed a 4.5% annual increase in cycling between 2011 and 2016. This was a lot more modest that the spin of 42% increase between 2011 and 2016 which appeared in some media reports and contrasts with figures released by the UK government which showed a 70% increase in six months in usage of the high quality  London Superhighways.

The 4.5% increase reflects not only the failure of the political establishment to provide for cycling in terms of quality of infrastructure but also low funding. To impact on cycling levels, funding must be at a minimum level of €10 per person per year whereas theactual level of funding is closer to €1.50 per person. A succession of questions in the Dáil by TDs, in particular by Catherine Murphy, has attempted to uncover the level of funding but the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport has continually refused to answer the questions and instead has fobbed off deputies with a confusing stream of irrelevant figures.

Velo-City Conference 2017

Some good news at last! The Velo-City Conference 2017 recently took place in Arnhem-Nejmegen in the Netherlands and brought together 1500 delegates from over 80 countries to discuss all matters related to the everyday cycling. Topics included health, happiness, medical research, infrastructure, tourism and Bikonomics. The theme of the conference was the Freedom of Cycling and referred in particular to the freedom of mobility by children in the Netherlands. This is in stark contrast to the situation in Ireland where children are denied the option of cycling due to lack of high quality infrastructure with the result that the majority are chauffeured to school, to sports and to after school activities which impacts on their health and results in traffic congestion. In 2019, Velo-City will be in Dublin.

Kildare Cycle Forum

The Kildare Cycle Forum (perhaps it should be called the Non-Cycling Forum) held it second meeting again without any representatives from cycling advocacy groups. The meetings are in secret so it is not known if the Forum discusses one big secret or a number of little secrets.

Maynooth Cycling Campaign is a non-party political cycling advocacy group. Further information on meetings and activities is available on our website.

We are affiliated to, the Irish Cyclist Advocacy Network and through it to the European Cycling Federation.


Maynooth Cycling Campaign Notes – June 2017  

Bikeweek 2017

            Sunday 11th June   Leixlip Heritage Trail

            Saturday 17th June            Family BioCycle along the Royal Canal

            Both events will start at 2:30pm from Courthouse Square Maynooth

This year the two key events are the Heritage Cycle on Sunday 11th June which leaves from Courthouse Square at 2:30pm for the Leixlip Heritage Trail. This is a different trail from Arthur’s Way and after cycling to Leixlip, will consist of a walk around Leixlip town centre and the Rye Valley. The second key event is a Family BioCycle along the Royal Canal on Saturday 17th June with local ecologist Karen Moore. Karen will be identifying points of interest along the canal east of Maynooth so come along and will find out what it is about canals that makes them so important to our natural landscape.

Straffan Road Cycle Tracks

On Friday 5th May, a group of some 12-15 boys and girls was observed cycling on the Straffan Road. They were of primary school age and were accompanied by what appeared to be a member of the Garda Siochana and some other adults who were probably parents or teachers.  They obviously share the concerns of Maynooth Cycling Campaign about the quality of cycle facilities as none of them were using the new cycle tracks.

Kildare Cycle Forum

There has been much comment in the media about the election of a Saudi Arabian representative on a UN committee for women’s rights and whether or not a Saudi representative would really be in favour of progressing women’s rights. It seems that we have our own version in Kildare. After three years of this county council, it is understood that a meeting of the Kildare Cycling Forum has finally taken place. However, no cycling representatives have been asked to take part and the word on the street is that the chair, Cllr. Darren Scully, does not want any. Could he be related to the Saudi representative?

Dealing with Chasing Dogs

A look back at the past can throw up some amusing opinions. This is even true of the Maynooth Newsletter and it need not be the distant past. In the May 2005 edition under the title of Useful Tips, there was advice on how cyclists and joggers should deal with chasing dogs.

The advice ranged from

  • Carry a folded umbrella to open in the animal’s face.
  • Try squirting the dog in its eyes with your water bottle.
  • Keep dog treats such as dog biscuits in your pocket.
  • Speak to the dog in a commanding but calm tone.
  • Draw the owner’s attention to the fact that his /her dog is a nuisance.

So all those people who took part in the recent Maynooth 5K/10K, we hope that you didn’t forget to bring your umbrella and to the Maynooth cycling community, you have been advised!

Threats to Cyclists

Recent remarks by the journalist Paul Williams on Newstalk radio where he threatened any cyclist touching his car while he was driving have been condemned by cyclist representatives.  Maynooth Cycling Campaign considers the remarks reprehensible in the light of increasing cyclist fatalities. While (the vast majority of) motorists do not go out to intentionally kill or harm cyclists, the remarks give support to a growing intolerance by a minority of drivers to cyclists on the road. Maynooth Cycling Campaign also condemns the failure of the Road Safety Authority (RSA) and Shane Ross, the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport to take any effective action to counteract the increasing fatalities.

Maynooth Cycling Campaign is a non-party political cycling advocacy group. Further information on meetings and activities is available on our website.

We are affiliated to, the Irish Cyclist Advocacy Network and through it to the European Cycling Federation.


Maynooth Cycling Campaign Notes – May 2017

Compulsory Hi Viz for Cyclists and Pedestrians

At the recent annual conference of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors, there was debate on a motion for high visibility clothing to be made compulsory for pedestrians and cyclists. Although the actual vote did not include pedestrians (as it was considered unenforceable), the motion gave rise to a frenzy of discussion in the media about cyclists and hi viz. As vulnerable road users, many cyclists choose to wear hi viz but hi viz has no magical powers to protect and was found in the UK courts to contribute to a fatality in low sun conditions. Furthermore, in countries with the greatest number of cyclists, responsibility for safety is placed on those who pose the greatest risk ie on people who drive rather than on people who cycle.

Minimum Passing Distance Law

Of greater importance to cyclists is the Minimum Passing Distance Law proposed by Ciaran Cannon and Regina Doherty. The law proposes a 1.5m minimum passing distance for vehicles travelling at speeds greater than 50kph and 1m for speeds of 50kph or less. It is similar to legislation in several other countries including France, Belgium, Portugal and Australia, as well as several US states and provinces in Canada. Here in Kildare we are acutely aware of the effects of the risks of cycling with the death of Tonya McEvoy at Rathcoffey in February while on a club run.  Although the two TDs are members of the government party, the law is being introduced as a private members bill so we would urge all North Kildare TDs to support it and hopefully it will be passed by the Dáil before the summer recess.

The Barrow Motorway

Last night I dreamt of a motorway beside the Barrow greenway….. and it’s wasn’t a nightmare.  Just imagine it – two lanes of traffic in one direction, two lanes of traffic in the opposite direction, a central reservation and two verges one on either side. Right, now imagine it again, this time without any traffic and with no traffic lanes. Then imagine it without a central reservation and with a verge on only one side. Finally imagine the motorway with the remaining verge reduced in width. Wouldn’t that be an amazing sight from Kildare all the way to St. Mullins?

It is important that it is a motorway verge. There are grass verges on many roads and in many housing estates but those are ordinary verges. They are only about 1m wide and the grass is (generally) cut by the householder. No for the Barrow we are talking about a motorway verge and what is special about them? Well for starters they are a lot wider and the grass isn’t normally cut except close to the road. Secondly, people don’t stop and spend time on motorway verges so they are not disturbed by human beings. When motorways were first planned in the UK in the 1950s, it was all about transport and moving people and goods. Road engineers were not concerned with the environment or biodiversity so nobody foresaw that motorway verges would become important linear pathways across the countryside for flora and fauna. Admittedly, motorways are not so good for animals which travel at ground level but the ‘motorway’ along the Barrow wouldn’t have that problem as animals would only have to deal with people on bikes or walkers and not thundering HGVs and cars.

Why did Waterways Ireland not think of this when they were planning their Blueway? Well one reason is that they do not own the adjoining land and therein lies the problem. Waterways Ireland does not have funds to purchase adjoining lands for a project which in itself may or may not get planning permission.  We don’t do long term planning in Ireland  as the housing crisis and water quality problems attest so the idea of purchasing or investing in something intangible like biodiversity is alien to us. The government launched its public consultation on the National Biodiversity Action Plan 2017- 2021 earlier this year. I doubt though that they will be recommending a motorway along the Barrow (even without the bad bits) but what’s the harm in dreaming?

Politicians and Cycling

While announcements of the setting up of the Kildare Cycle Forum have again proved to be premature, there was better news in the Dáil where the All Party Cycling group was set up as a non-party forum for TDs and senators with an interest in cycling. Maynooth Cycling Campaign wishes it well and hopes that it will prove to be as successful as the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group at Westminster. Hopefully too some of the TDs for North Kildare will consider joining!

National Road Network Indicators 2016

The National Road Network Indicators for 2016 which was recently published by Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) makes for interesting reading.  The report is split into five parts – Network, Economic, Road Condition, Safety and Accessibility/ Environment.


 The first part deals with the extent of national roads, traffic levels, and level of service which essentially means whether a road is congested or not. Chart C1 shows the level of service during the morning peak and demonstrates that over the whole country the level of congestion is surprisingly low with congestion apparent only in the vicinity of the cities – Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Galway.  With a surprising degree of honesty, the report admits that

                Following the substantial investment in National Roads over the last decade, most route sections are operating to the highest standard of service. However, for certain roads such as the M50, further interventions such as demand management are required to ensure that higher levels of service are achieved.

So it concedes that most of the network is operating to a high standard and accepts that congestion will worsen on the M50 unless more measures such as demand management are introduced.  As the principle type of demand management is road pricing or a congestion charge, this will not be to the liking of government which is opposed to such measures. The most interesting sections are Charts E and F which show Trip Duration and Trip Distance for National and Regional Roads and which are based on national computer models. The main findings are

  • 28% of trips last less than 10 minutes
  • 11% of trips are for a distance of less than 5km
  • 38% of trips are for less than 10km
  • 24% of trips are less than 7.5km
  • In 2016 traffic growth was 4.6% across the network
  • In 2016 growth in the Dublin region was 6.9%.

The 24% of trips less than 7.5km show the potential for substituting trips by car for trips by bicycle. It demonstrates clearly that congestion will not be solved by building more roads but by providing for more efficient modes of transport in terms of space and speed.

The second part Economy deals with estimates of future levels of population, car ownership and vehicles kilometres. By 2050 the ESRI forecast that the population will increase to between 5 and 5.6 million while TII expects total car ownership to increase from 2.5 million in 2013 to 3.5-4.0 million. The number of vehicle kilometres travelled is also forecast to increase from just over 40 billion in 2013 to between 52.0 and 58.5 billion in 2050 depending on future growth rate. Obviously, TII don’t agree with the concept of Peak Car or Peak Car Use. It also appears not to agree with Smarter Travel targets for reduction in commuting by private car although Smarter Travel uses a short time frame to 2020 while TII forecasts take a longer time frame to 2050. Although traffic growth was 4.6% nationally (and 7.4 in the Mid East region ie the commuter belt), it assumes that traffic will grow at an average rate of about 1% between 2016 and 2050 but this still implies an overall increase of nearly 40%. Just where this traffic will go is unclear but it is likely to lead to an increase in demands for yet more investment in roads for motorised traffic. This is already apparent in calls by groups like the Small Firms Association for a new motorway, the Leinster Outer Orbital Ring, to be developed to supplement the M50 at the same time as TII complains about inadequate funding to maintain existing roads.

The final section looks at Accessibility/Environment and includes the statement “the key benefit of a quality road system is improved accessibility to jobs”. This statement can be interpreted in two ways. The benign view is that a quality road system will reduce congestion and reinforce economic development thereby leading to increased employment. The alternative view is that the development of a better quality road system will lead to an increase in congestion and longer commuter times due to induced demand ie more people choosing to travel further to jobs because of an improved road system. Now looking at Dublin and the other Irish cities, I wonder which view predominates?

Maynooth Cycling Campaign – April Notes

200th Anniversary of the Bicycle               

The year 2017 marks the 200th anniversary of the invention by Baron Karl von Drais of what is generally regarded as the first bicycle – the Laufmaschine (“Running machine”). It was also known as a velocipede or draisienne (in French) or as a hobby or dandy horse (in English).


Karl von Drais was born on April 29, 1785 in Karlsruhe, capital of Baden, Germany. His father was Baron von Drais and although the family was not rich, it was highly influential, his godfather being the Grand Duke of Baden. He went to school in Karlsruhe where he studied forestry and later enrolled at the University of Heidelberg where he studied Mathematics, Physics and Architecture. In 1811, he went to Mannheim in order to concentrate on inventions. At that time, Europe was suffering from a series of poor harvests, a situation which was worsened by an Indonesian volcanic eruption in 1815. As a result ash in the atmosphere affected the climate across the entire world and Europe saw snow all summer long. The starvation and death of horses following the crop failure encouraged von Drais to focus on a replacement means of transport.

On his first reported ride from Mannheim on June 12, 1817, he covered about 10 km in less than an hour. The Laufmaschine had no pedals and was powered by the feet with the rider balancing the machine to keep upright. Constructed almost entirely of wood, it weighed 22 kg, had brass bushings within the wheel bearings, iron shod wheels and a rear-wheel brake. He patented his design in 1818 and it was the first commercially successful two-wheeled, steerable, human-propelled machine. It was initially manufactured in Germany and France and several thousand copies were built and used, primarily in Europe and in North America.

It soon became apparent that roads were so rutted by carriages that it was difficult to balance the Laufmaschine so riders took to the footpaths which gave rise to an outcry from pedestrians (some things never change!). Consequently, authorities in Germany, Great Britain, the United States, and even Calcutta banned their use which caused their popularity to fade. Due to later political upheaval in Germany, von Drais lost all his money and died in poverty in 1851. Nevertheless, the Laufmaschine deserves to be celebrated this year on the 200th anniversary of its invention as it was the forerunner of the modern day bicycle which has given great pleasure to countless people.

National Mitigation Plan

It has been revealed that Ireland is one of only two EU member states that has failed to meet EU emissions and renewable energy targets after the government conceded that it was set to fall well short of required progress. A 2014 report by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform estimated that missing greenhouse gas emissions targets could cost Ireland €90 million while missing the 2020 renewable energy could cost between €140 million and €600 million.

The Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment is currently consulting the public on its draft National Mitigation Plan which contains measures aimed at addressing these failures. However, despite looming EU fines lip service is paid to the need to increase cycling and other sustainable modes of transport.

 Kildare County Development Plan 2017-2023

Kildare County Council has released its new Development Plan on 1st March. From first glances, it looks very much like a curate’ s egg – partly good and partly bad. While the chapter on Movement and Transport refers to ‘sustainability’ and ‘promoting walking and cycling’, what stands out are nearly two and a half pages of roads identified for improvements and priority road and bridge projects whereas the only cycling/walking schemes are projects that have been on the books for a number of years. Put beside Kildare’s Capital Programme and the absence of any intention to provide safe cycling routes to schools such as on the Celbridge Road, it suggests continuing congestion and a continuing token commitment to cycling.

Maynooth Cycling Campaign is a non-party political cycling advocacy group. Further information on meetings and activities is available on our website.

We are affiliated to, the Irish Cyclist Advocacy Network and through it to the European Cycling Federation.

How much does Ireland spend on cycling?

Local and central governments are fond of ‘promoting cycling’. They have been promoting it for some twenty years with grants here and there, photo opportunities at the opening of cycle facilities, giving out hi vizjackets, exhortations to get on your bike, advertisements in the media and so on. In most of this time, cycling nationally has declined. Brendan Behan once suggested that in order to revive the Irish language, books which were banned for their sexual content in English should be printed in Irish. Perhaps local and central government should trying promoting car use – the outcome could hardly be worse!

There is a lack of knowledge of how much Ireland actually allocates to cycling.  It is difficult to be precise as cycling infrastructure can be provided  by funding from central or local government but can also be provided by private developers in the same way as other infrastructure such as road or sewers. Furthermore, some types of cycling infrastructure such as shared footpaths or greenways are provided to be shared with pedestrians so how do you determine the separate contribution for cyclists from pedestrians?

In most countries the critical figure is the amount of funding provided by central government. In 2014 in response to a question in the Dáil from Deputy Catherine Murphy, the Minister for Transport reported that a total of  €11.1 Million was allocated by his Department and gave a breakdown of the allocation to individual local authorities. However, this was only the direct budget allocation from the Department.  The National Transport Authority also provided funding of €8.2 Million to local authorities In the Greater Dublin Region and in May the government announced a Stimulus Programme which included funding of €10 million for greenway developments. Finally, in November, a supplementary budget was passed which included funding of €1.6 million also for greenways. Overall it is estimated that funding of €21.2 million was directly and indirectly provided for cycling by central government. With a population of 4.66 million, this equates to an expenditure of €4.55 per person for 2014.

How do we compare internationally? Well pretty badly. The Netherlands spends approximately €30 per person per annum. In the UK, politicians at Westminster estimate that expenditure of £10 per head per annum is required. Norway, with a similar population as Ireland has just announced an investment of almost €1 Billion in cycling infrastructure although it helps if you have extensive oil resources.  What is clear that unless spending is increased substantailly, the level of cycling in Ireland (outside of the capital) will remain under  3%.

Maynooth Cycling Campaign Notes – Mar 2017

How much does Ireland spend on Cycling?

Maynooth Cycling Campaign and, the Irish Cycle Advocacy Network are looking for 10% of the transport budget to be allocated to cycling which is in line with the government targets for cycling. So how much does the Irish government currently spend on cycling.? In 2014, in response to a Dáil question from Deputy Catherine Murphy, the Minister for Transport reported that a total of  €11.1 Million was allocated by his Department and gave a breakdown of the allocation to individual local authorities. However, this was only the direct budget allocation from the Department. The National Transport Authority also provided funding of €8.2 Million to local authorities in the Greater Dublin Area and in May the government announced a Stimulus Programme which included funding of €10 million for greenway developments. Then, in November, a supplementary budget was passed which included a further allocation of funding for greenways. Overall it is estimated that funding of €21.2 million was directly and indirectly provided for cycling by central government. With a population of 4.66 million, this equates to an expenditure of €4.55 per person for 2014. How do we compare internationally? Well pretty badly – the Netherlands spends approximately €30 per person and in several other countries politicians have committed to spending multiple of this.

Butterfly Conservation Ireland

In an article in last month’s Maynooth Newsletter, Jesmond Harding of Butterfly Conservation Ireland referred to the greenway “…. being wide enough to facilitate a truck” and “the width of the path from the 15th lock to Allen Bridge being unnecessary”. While we disagree with a number of his comments and want to see a wider greenway than was approved by Kildare County Council under the Part 8 Public Consultation, we are equally appalled at the unnecessary width of much of what has been constructed to date.

However, what appears to have been forgotten by many is that the canal towpath as well as being important from the point of view of biodiversity, is an important part of the National Cycle Network which was devised to encourage everyday as well as recreational cycling. A poor quality cycling environment suppresses the demand for cycling and results in the increased use of cars and increased greenhouse gases. The emotive use of the term ‘Boy Racers’ is also objectionable as in this instance it is being applied to cyclists but what is not generally known is that the design speed for rural cycle facilities is 30 kph.  Pedestrians are unhappy with cyclists travelling at high speeds in close proximity to them so inadequate space leads to conflict between the two groups.

It is indisputable that the development of a greenway will impact negatively on biodiversity but the same development will impact positively with regards to environment and climate change.  The abject failure of successive governments to treat climate change seriously was reflected in recent findings by the Environmental Protection Agency that Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions, which fell during the recession, are rising again with emissions from the transport sector increasing by 4.2% in 2015.  Unless Irish dependency on the private car is reduced and greater use of bicycles will contribute to this, the impact of climate change will negatively affect not just the biodiversity of the towpaths but the entire country. We will all be poorer for that.

Kildare Cycle Forum

The Cycle Forum was discussed at the February meeting of the Transportation Strategic Policy Committee (SPC). However, reports suggest that little progress was made. Apparently, Cllr. Darren Scully, chair of the SPC, proposed that a representative of the Society of the Irish Motor Trade (SIMI) should be on the Cycle Forum.  It is not known if this was a joke or not. It is suggested that a political representative be selected by each of the five Municipal Districts. Maynooth Cycling Campaign is opposed to this as we want a representative from all of the political groupings so that all have an input into Forum business.

Naas Cycle Schemes

In February, there was a meeting of Naas town centre traders who complained about proposals to remove car parking spaces to provide space for cycling. Cycle tracks were blamed for small shops closing their doors even though there are currently no cycle tracks anywhere near the centre. The same Cllr. Darren Scully proposed that the development of all cycle routes be postponed. Maynooth Cycling Campaign strongly opposed this proposal and urged support for a cross-party coalition of Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and Sinn Fein councillors who wanted the cycle schemes to progress without delay. It is normal experience across Europe that the provision of cycle facilities creates a backlash or ‘bikelash’ especially where it involves the removal of car parking. It there wasn’t a backlash, it would indicate that the scheme is not ambitious enough. For politicians with the vision of a healthy and active community, it is worth pointing out that practically no cycle schemes have been removed after they have been introduced.

Maynooth Community Council

At last month’s meeting, Cllr. Reada Cronin is reported as saying that “…until the work is finished ….people cannot say that it doesn’t work.” While that statement is true, people are entitled to express the likelihood of a scheme working or not.  A number of our group have experience of cycle facilities at home and abroad and are very familiar with the quality of infrastructure that attracts mass cycling and the quality which does not. We do not know why some cyclists said that they would not use cycle paths provided. The main reason for not using a cycle path is because cyclists consider it safer to be on the road. Regardless of the reason, Maynooth Cycling Campaign supports their right not to do so and there is no legal obligation for cyclists to use cycle paths under the Road Traffic (Traffic and Parking) (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 2012 (S.I. 332 of 2012).

Maynooth Cycling Campaign is a non-party political cycling advocacy group. Further information on meetings and activities is available on our website.

We are affiliated to, the Irish Cyclist Advocacy Network and through it to the European Cycling Federation.

Cycle Right – No Substitute for Infrastructure

Maynooth Cycling Campaign welcomes the launch of Cycle Right and congratulate Cycling Ireland and Celbridge’s Barbara Connolly on their leading role in its development. We now hope that the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport will follow up with the second essential element to achieve mass cycling to school – increased funding for the provision of high quality infrastructure. Being able to cycle is not the same as willing to cycle and unless the road environment is made safe for all ages the Minister’s hope for support from parents and for more children to choose cycling will remain that – a hope.

In his press release, the Minister also expresses a hope  that the initiative will ‘show his commitment to improving road safety and reducing the number of fatalities’. Considering that the bulk of fatalities involved drivers and pedestrians, it is hard to see how cycle training will improve road safety generally.  His use of ‘we’  as in  we must … remember to take particular care around vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and cyclists… reveal with which group of road users his empathies lie. While details of the rollout of Cycle Right have not been revealed, the key figure will be the outcome of cycle training – that is the increase in the number of children cycling to school. This will show the Minister’s true level of ambition and commitment to cycling.

Most countries provide cycle training to children as a means of encouraging cycling. In the Netherlands, having learnt how to cycle from their parents at a young age, children undergo a cycle test at the age of eleven so the test is in reality a confirmation of their ability rather than the acquisition of a new skill. In the UK, most parents do not cycle and it is likely that many feel that they do not have the skills to teach their children. While children there are being trained in large numbers, this does not lead to them cycling. Conditions on UK streets simply remain too unpleasant and too dangerous for more than a very small proportion of parents to allow their children to cycle. Unless additional funding for infrastructure is provided, the mistakes in the UK will be repeated in Ireland.