MAYNOOTH CYCLING CAMPAIGN NOTES JULY 2018

Bikeweek 2018

The Tour of the Dead to historic graveyards around Maynooth took place on a day with almost perfect weather and we had a lovely cycle to Laraghbryan, Ladychapel and Taghadoe. We were delighted to have the opportunity to show the film Why We Cycle about the Dutch cycling culture and appreciated the attendance of Maynooth MD councillors Padraig McEvoy (Ind), Teresa Murray (Ind) and Tim Durkan (FG) but the general attendance was disappointing. On Bike to Work Day, we gave out chocolates to cyclists on their way to work. We were also involved in organising prizes for a number of the Maynooth primary schools. Some had taken part in a Biodiversity Visit to the Royal Canal with Karen Moore. Presentation Girls school deserves special mention for the way that the school was decorated with fantastic paintings and drawings for Bikeweek. The second weekend saw the Family Cycle to Kilcock with nearly 40 cyclists, young and old, cycling along the Royal Canal Greenway. At Kilcock the children, some young and some not so young, were rewarded with an ice cream. So that was Bikeweek 2018. Roll on next year!

Statement on Cycling from Garda Assistant Commissioner

A less enjoyable aspect of Bikeweek was the disappointing comments on cyclists and cycling from Assistant Commissioner David Sheahan of the Garda National Roads Policing Division. In a statement, he described cycling as a ‘pastime’ and went on to state that cyclists should have brakes, tyres and chain. For everyday cyclists, cycling is not a pastime – it is a mode of transport and it is doubtful that many cyclists take a bike out without tyres or a chain! The Assistant Commissioner also stated that cyclists should never cycle more than two abreast which demonstrates an ignorance of the Road Traffic legislation as it is not illegal to cycle three abreast. If a senior Garda officer has such a distorted view of cycling, it is hardly surprising that the Gardaí fail to prosecute drivers who park on cycle lanes and who endanger cyclists.

Royal Canal Greenway/EuroVelo Route 2

On 2nd July, Shane Ross, the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport will be coming to Maynooth to open a section of the Royal Canal/Eurovelo Route 2 between Maynooth and the Westmeath border – another piece of the jig-saw puzzle between Moscow and Galway. Cyclists will then be able to cycle all the way from Maynooth to Athlone. You can find out progress on the rest of the route at http://www.eurovelo.com/en/eurovelos/eurovelo-2 .

On the same day, the Glenroyal Hotel will host a Capacity Building Workshop to explore the opportunities in developing trails on and along the Royal Canal. It promises to be a bright future for north Kildare.

Climate Change

Another report pointed out the failure of government to live up to Irish commitments on reduction of greenhouse gases. In a ranking of EU countries’ ambition and progress in fighting climate change by Climate Action Network (CAN), Ireland was ranked 27th out of 28.

Niamh Garvey, head of policy and advocacy with Trócaire (which is a member of CAN), commented “This report reaffirms what we know, that political leadership is urgently needed to turn Ireland’s record around on climate change”.

Vulnerable Road Users and Anti-Cyclist Bias

The vulnerability of pedestrians and cyclists on Irish roads and the ‘normality’ of road fatalities was once again demonstrated. In a recent week, nine people were killed including three pedestrians, two of which were hit and run collisions. On The Journal twitter account, eight news reports about the fatal crashes generated 65 comments. However, one article on cyclists generated 272 comments.

Kildare Gardai on Two Wheels

Hopefully, it wasn’t just the good weather, but a member of the Gardaí has been recently seen cycling around Maynooth which is welcomed by Maynooth Cycling Campaign. It is proposed that more Gardai will be taking to the streets across Kildare on bike patrol.

Finally Good News on Infrastructure

Finally some good news on cycling infrastructure but not in Kildare. Due to increasing congestion in Dublin City, the National Transport Authority has announced major plans to improve bus services and at the same time to introduce the next generation network of cycling facilities in the capital. In time, this will lead to higher quality cycle infrastructure in Kildare – hopefully sooner rather than later.

And more good news – after their original design met with scathing criticism, consultants for Dublin City have redesigned the Clontarf-Amiens cycle corridor and the revised scheme has been warmly welcomed by cyclist representatives.

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 Cyclist.ie, the Irish Cyclist Advocacy Network and through it to the European Cycling Federation.

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MAYNOOTH CYCLING CAMPAIGN NOTES JUNE 2018

BIKEWEEK 2018

This year Bikeweek runs from 9th to 17th June and once again Maynooth  Cycling Campaign has organised a number of events to mark the occasion. On June 10th our historic cycle is the Tour of the Dead – visiting a number of the historic graveyards surrounding Maynooth. On Sunday 17th, the Family Cycle will be to Kilcock on the new Royal Canal Greenway. Both events start at 2:30pm from Maynooth Harbour. Wednesday 13th June is Bike to Work/Bike to School Day and we urge everyone to get on two wheels or even three.  Tuesday 12th June is a special occasion as we will be showing the Kildare film premiere of WHY WE CYCLE in the Glenroyal Hotel at 8:00pm (see below).

 

WHY WE CYCLE – KILDARE FILM PREMIERE

To the Dutch, cycling is as normal as breathing. They don’t think about it, they just do it. The documentary ‘Why we cycle’ features professionals from a variety of disciplines and ordinary cyclists. The film reveals some obvious as well as hidden effects of cycling on people, society and communities and shows the potential transformation of prioritising people over cars. It presents a vision for a healthy and active town which Maynooth could emulate and complements the ongoing Maynooth Health Checks.

KILDARE CYCLING OFFICER

Kildare County Council is in the process of employing  a new road safety/cycling officer. The post requires the successful candidate  to be able to drive – but not to be able to cycle which says a lot about the position of cycling in the Council.

I BIKE DUBLIN

Cyclists are angry in Ireland and in other countries – not just with increasing fatalities but also with poor quality infrastructure and lack of enforcement of parking legislation. I BIKE DUBLIN was set up to take direct action to protect cyclists. They do this simply by standing along the white line at the edge of the cycle lane to stop encroachment by cars. Prominent locations where they have taken this action in Dublin include St. Andrews Street in Dublin city centre and Ranelagh and follows similar protests in the UK, the USA and France.

CLIMATE CHANGE

Climate change hasn’t gone away you know! We were reminded of this recently when the former head of the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Energy warned that failure to achieve targets in the period up to 2020 are “a ticking exchequer time bomb”.

Furthermore, at a recent Irish wind energy conference, it was pointed out that if Ireland fails to meet climate change targets, the choice will be between multimillion euro fines or sending taxpayers’ money abroad to purchase emissions and/or renewables rights from 2020.

WORLD BICYCLE DAY 3rd JUNE

Finally, don’t forget that the 3rd June has been nominated by the UN as World Bicycle Day. So celebrate the occasion by getting out for a spin.

This is against a backdrop of even more authorities realising that additional cars in urban areas is bad. Last month, Los Angeles decided against adding lanes to a freeway, an unexpected move in a city that has mistakenly thought for years that more lanes mean fewer traffic jams. Despite expenditure of $1.6 billion on the expansion of Interstate 405 in Los Angeles and $2.8 billion on expansion of Interstate 10 in Houston to 26 lanes, the difference in travel times has been marginal.  In Germany, the highest court ruled that diesel cars could be banned from city centres to clean up the air. Meanwhile in Ireland, a decision by councillors in South East Dublin against a quietway show that Ireland is once again  lagging behind.

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 Cyclist.ie, the Irish Cyclist Advocacy Network and through it to the European Cycling Federation.

Bikeweek 2018

This year Bikeweek runs from 9th to 17th June and once again Maynooth  Cycling Campaign has organised a number of events to mark the occasion. On June 10th our historic cycle is the Tour of the Dead – visiting a number of the historic graveyards surrounding Maynooth. On Sunday 17th, the Family Cycle will be to Kilcock on the new Royal Canal Greenway. Both events start at 2:30pm from Maynooth Harbour. Wednesday 13th June is Bike to Work/Bike to School Day and we urge everyone to get on two wheels or even three.  Tuesday 12th June is a special occasion as we will be showing the Kildare film premiere of WHY WE CYCLE in the Glenroyal Hotel at 8:00pm (see below).

 

WHY WE CYCLE – KILDARE FILM PREMIERE

To the Dutch, cycling is as normal as breathing. They don’t think about it, they just do it. The documentary ‘Why we cycle’ features professionals from a variety of disciplines and ordinary cyclists. The film reveals some obvious as well as hidden effects of cycling on people, society and communities and shows the potential transformation of prioritising people over cars. It presents a vision for a healthy and active town which Maynooth could emulate and complements the ongoing Maynooth Health Checks.

 

Programme of Events

The full programme is available Programme 2018

How to Create Conflict between Walkers and Cyclists

In a recent episode of Tracks and Trails on RTE, Aobhinn Garrihy and John Burke walked part of the Wicklow Way which was established by JB Malone in the late 1970s.

At one point they were looking at a map and realised that the way for walkers was segregated from the way for mountain bikers. John Burke remarked that keeping them apart was “great’ as he was sure “the bikers and walkers do not want to meet”.

The commentator then remarked that in that area, bikers and walkers were kept apart “for safety reasons”.  Further on Robin Seymour, the Irish international mountain biker, stated that there “probably was a lot of conflict before designated spaces”.

I do not know when it was decided to segregate the two but it is amazing that three ‘ordinary’ people recognise that mixing walkers and cyclists together give rise to conflict. In contrast organisations such as local authorities and Waterways Ireland which are responsible for the provision of cycle infrastructure see nothing wrong with force high levels of walkers and cyclists together on narrow footways and towpaths. This use of shared paths follows UK practice dating from the 1980s at a time when cycling was viewed as a child’s pastime – one that they would grow out of in adulthood when they would buy a car.  In Ireland we have chosen to follow the practice of the major European country with the worst modal share for cycling and where the modal share for cycling nationally is unchanged since 2000 rather than countries which enable high levels of cycling. It is hardly surprising then that levels of cycling nationally in Ireland remain low. In the Netherland and Denmark, the authorities recognise that walking and cycling are different modes and require their own space. We should emulate them.

MAYNOOTH CYCLING CAMPAIGN NOTES – May 2018

Get Ireland Cycling Strategy Meeting

On March 6th, Sport Ireland held a strategy meeting on Get Ireland Cycling. Although, organised by Sport Ireland, the meeting was about everyday cycling rather than cycling as a sport. It was attended by senior officials from Healthy Ireland and the Departments of Health and Transport along with Road Authorities, Local Sports Partnerships and members of An Garda Siochana which shows that cycling/bicycling is moving up the Irish political agenda.

The keynote speaker was Angela van der Kloof, a Dutch consultant who is familiar with Ireland and is a Cycling Expert with the Dutch Cycling Embassy. She said “ ….unless you have a coherent network of segregated cycle tracks/path criss-crossing urban areas you will not get more people cycling” and in relation to the lack of children cycling in Ireland, she emphasised that  “Children are precious and must be protected from fast traffic”.  We would concur with these views. Maynooth needs a network of cycle facilities not a corridor.

World Bicycle Day  – June 3rd

Bicycles continue to move up the political agenda worldwide also. The United Nations has declared June 3rd as International World Bicycle Day, by adopting a resolution to that effect on April 12th 2018, during the 72nd Regular Session of the UN General Assembly, in New York.

The resolution was adopted by a consensus of 193 member states. The declaration invites all Member States and relevant stakeholders to celebrate and promote awareness of the World Bicycle Day. The declaration encourages Member States to devote particular attention to the bicycle in cross-cutting development strategies and to include the bicycle in international, regional, national and local development policies and programmes. The European Cyclists’ Federation (ECF) welcomed this resolution with the  Secretary General Dr. Bernhard Ensink stating “Cycling is a source for social, economic and environmental benefits – and it is bringing people together. This UN declaration is an acknowledgment of the contribution of cycling to 12 of the 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs)”.

Climate Change

On  the subject of sustainability, air pollution in Ireland is deteriorating at an alarming rate, according to the latest ‘Air Pollutant Emissions’ 2016 published by the EPA.

Nitrogen oxides,  is one of a number of extremely dangerous classes of air pollutants, which exceeded EU safe limits in 2016. Transport (41%) and agriculture (29.6%) were the largest Irish sources. Health impacts of nitrogen oxides include diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma.

Meeting of Maynooth Planning Alliance

There was discussion about planning issues at the public meeting  of the Maynooth Planning Alliance in April. Most of the discussions centred on traffic congestion with several drivers complaining about delays due to other people in cars. The elephant in the room (which was not mentioned) is that there are too many cars used too often and that new roads generate more traffic. All political parties, all governments since the 1990s and county councils are in favour of sustainable and active modes of travel.

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 Cyclist.ie, the Irish Cyclist Advocacy Network and through it to the European Cycling Federation.

Government & RSA Blind to 73% Increase in Cyclist Fatalities


There has been outrage among cyclists at the number of cyclist fatalities  in 2017 – fifteen according to the Gardaí and sixteen according to others. While the Gardaí may debate whether one was a pedestrian or a cyclist, the facts are that last year 16 cyclists left home never to return alive.

Analysis of cyclist fatalities is usually based on a 12 month period. However, this gives rise to a number of ‘spikes’  because of the relative low level of fatalities. A more useful  analysis – one that reduces the effect of spikes and reveals trends more clearly – comes from using a three year average calculated from the year before, the year in question and the year after. Figure 1, which was calculated in January 2017, shows the 1 Year Average and 3 Year Average Cyclist Fatalities for the period 1996 to 2016.  The 3 Year Analysis  shows that since 2010 there has been an increase in cyclist fatalities with the increase appearing to have eased slightly at the end of 2016. Note that the figure for 2016 was averaged over two years (2015 and 2016) as it was estimated in January 2017.

Fig1

Figure 1:              1 Year and 3 Year Average Cyclist Fatalities 1996-2016 (Jan 2017)

In December 2017, the figure for 2016 was recalculated to include the 2017 cyclist deaths and an additional year 2017 was included by again averaging the fatalities over the last two years (2016 and 2017).

Fat3

Table 1:              1 Year and 3 Year Average Cyclist Fatalities 2007 (Dec 2017)

Figure 2 below shows the revised graph which was derived in part from the table above.  As stated above, the 3 Year Average for the final entry (2017) was calculated over two years 2016 and 2017.

Fig2

Figure 2:           1 Year and 3 Year Average Cyclist Fatalities 1996-2017 (Dec 2017)

The real scandal of increasing cyclist deaths is not the spike in the first half of 2017 but the  upward annual trend from 7.0 fatalities in 2010 to 12.5 fatalities in 2017 – an increase of more than 78% –  which has gone unnoticed by both the government and the RSA. This equates to an annual increase of some 8% each year for 7 straight years.

In 2017 some of the fatalities were recreational cyclists – others were utility cyclists. Some accidents occurred in urban areas while others occurred in rural areas. Many commentators have remarked that there is no pattern to the deaths but this is not the case.  Table 2 below lists the 2017 fatalities and the type of road on which the fatal collision occurred.

Table 2:                List of Cyclist Fatalities 2017 and Road Type

All the fatal accidents involved at least one other vehicle. Excluding Paul Hannon who was technically a pedestrian as he had dismounted from his bike at the time of the accident, eleven of the remaining 15 cyclists were either on national, regional  or city arterial roads. Thus, over 73% of fatalities happened on roads with high levels of traffic and/or high speeds – roads on which segregated cycle facilities would be provided in other countries as a matter of course but not in Ireland.

There are three main areas through which cyclist safety can be improved:

  • High quality infrastructure
  • Enforcement
  • Promotion/advertising

Infrastructure is the most capital intensive area and can take a significant period of time to show change at a national level. With government expenditure on cycling at €2.5 per head per annum, little high quality infrastructure and with no commitment to radical change, it is apparent that the government is prepared to settle for an “acceptable” level of cyclist deaths. The number of fatalities may spike somewhat from year to year (as in 2017) but with the levels of utility cycling virtually stagnant[1], the number of fatalities is unlikely to increase significantly enough to force change.

Enforcement of legislation is a matter for the Garda Siochana. The inadequacy of the Gardaí response to drink driving has received a lot of publicity and has still to be satisfactorily  resolved. Looking at international practice, the work of the West Midland police and their Close Pass Operation which led to a 20% decrease in the number of cyclist killed and seriously injured has been widely praised by cyclists advocacy groups. It is a good example of police enforcement and should be a model for the Gardaí to follow.

Infrastructure and enforcement are the two most effective areas and the areas on which the Irish government should focus. The third area – promotion (advertising) – is the least effective but involves little funding so, needless to say, it is the area where the Irish government concentrates its efforts. Everyone is aware of road safety and no motorists (or very few) go out with the deliberate intention of killing another road user. However, people are human and make mistakes.  To address fatalities, cyclists don’t need  empty gestures from the Gardaí/RSA such as Go Slow Days, pledges to go slow or EDWARD (European Day without a Road Fatality).  There is approximately one road fatality every second day in Ireland so there is a 50:50 chance of no fatality on 21st September. In 2016, EDWARD coincided with two fatalities in Donegal yet the Gardaí/RSA choose to repeat the exercise in 2017 and disappointingly the Dublin Cycling Campaign actually wanted to be associated with it. What is most depressing is that even in countries with high levels of cycling, it took a large number of dead cyclists – more than 100 of them children in a single year in the 1970s – to motivate Dutch politicians to take the matter seriously. The question is what is the threshold of dead cyclists for Irish politicians to take action? We know that in 2016 two child cyclists were killed including one going to school. This has had no impact on   politicians so obviously two is not enough.  For those who think that this is unfair on politicians, we are still awaiting a response from the body politic to the news from the EPA that air pollution in Ireland, principally caused by car traffic, causes 1200 premature deaths every year.

[1] Based on Census results, the level of commuter cycling in 2016 is at the level which previously occurred around the year 2000.

This article was amended to include the death of Pat Beakey whose fatality was omitted in the original. His inclusion increases the rise in fatalities since 2010 from 71% to 78% (ie from 7 to 12.5 instead of to 12).

MAYNOOTH CYCLING CAMPAIGN NOTES – December 2017

Review of Year

For the last Newsletter of the year, we look at two of the major challenges to government for the past year and for future years – climate change and community health. Both impact on people directly affected but also impose a financial burden on the wider community. Increased cycling will not solve these problems but will reduce their detrimental effect. Before that though, we look at the issue which concerns all cyclists and the families of cyclists – road safety. While the risks of an accident are small, the effects of an accident can be appalling.

 Fatalities

2017 has been a horrendous year for cyclist fatalities – the worst for more than a decade and a 50% increase on the number in 2016.  With eleven months of the year gone, there has been 14 (15) fatalities including a young woman in a collision just a few kilometres from Maynooth. The official statistics say 14 – the 15th was pushing his bike at the time of a collision with a car. In November a coalition of cyclist groups staged a major demonstration in front of Leinster House to protest at (1) lack of investment in safe cycling facilities by government, (2) lack of enforcement of traffic regulations by the gardaí and (3) lack of support for Minimum Passing Distance Legislation. There is a lot of anger at indifference by the government and by Shane Ross, the Minister for Transport.

 Climate Change & the Citizens’ Assembly

Maynooth was well represented among observers at the recent meeting of the Citizens’ Assembly in Malahide which was debating Climate Change. Maynooth Cycling Campaign was there along with representatives from Trócaire who are part of Stop Climate Chaos campaign and Prof John Sweeney.

On Saturday, the Assembly heard experts and discussed the issues while on Sunday the Assembly voted on thirteen motions related to climate change including three on transport :

  • Sustainable transport
  • Electric vehicles
  • Public transport

The vote on sustainable transport was for greatly increased bus and bike lanes. The second was for increased charging points for electric vehicles. The third was for a reallocation of funding from roads to public transport. All of the votes were carried overwhelmingly so we shall have to wait and see the response of government.

Ireland has now become the worst performing country in Europe on the Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI). The journalist Eoin Burke Kennedy described the situation very well when he wrote:

The Government’s decade of inaction is, however, finally beginning to overtake its rhetoric. In nearly every metric by which a country can be vetted on climate change, Ireland is failing.

Emissions are on the rise across all sectors; renewable-energy targets have not been met, water quality is plummeting, while cities are clogged with cars and public transport infrastructures starved of investment.

 Community Health

The second major challenge to the government is health. The Department of Health recently published the results of the 2017 Healthy Ireland Survey. Its findings include

  • 36% have a normal weight, 39% are overweight and 23% are obese.
  • Men are more likely to be overweight than women, with 70% of men overweight or obese, compared with 53% of women.
  • The proportion that is obese rises from 9% of 15 to 24 year olds, to 32% of those aged 65 and older.
  • Over a third (36%) indicate that they are trying to lose weight, 28% are trying to maintain their weight and 5% are trying to gain weight.
  • The most common action taken to lose weight is doing more exercise (68%).
  • Almost two-thirds (65%) of those travelling to work or education mainly travel by car.
  • 73% of those whose usual journey is less than one kilometre mainly use an active form of travel (by foot or cycle). This falls to 37% for those travelling between 1 and 3 kilometres.

 

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 Cyclist.ie, the Irish Cycling Advocacy Network and through it to the European Cycling Federation. Membership is FREE. If you want to support our work, just email your contact details to maynoothcycling@gmail.com .

Reflections on the Citizens’ Assembly by Leinster Wheeler

 

I had the pleasure of attending as an observer the Citizen’s Assembly dealing with Climate Change in Malahide on 4th and 5th November. Here are my thoughts of the weekend.

Day 1

The first speaker on transportation was Anne Graham, CEO of the National Transport Authority. She began by pointing out that Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions per person are among the highest of any country in the world and outlined the characteristics of our transport network and the travel mode share. The problem with a speaker from the NTA is that it is dependent on the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport  for funding so is not in a position to criticise its parent body. As a result, the talk was largely a restatement of current policies rather than mapping out a brave new path to the future or highlighting current deficiencies.

The second speaker was Dr. Brian Caulfield, Associate Professor at TCD. He outlined two options aimed at achieving a low carbon transport network – changing how we fuel our transport and reducing our reliance on private vehicles. A future low carbon transport model would see

  • Much greater use of public transport
  • Electrification of our car stock
  • Sustained growth in walking and cycling for lower distance trips
  • In rural areas the use of demand responsive transport

He pointed out that even if we achieve the targets of 25% electric vehicles by 2025 and 50% by 2030 (which is very ambitious) our carbon emissions would still grow by 22% rather than decrease. He pointed out that cars spend 95% of their time parked and when use for short journeys their emission profile is inefficient with cold starts. He went on to describe the change in car ownership models with the advent of Mobility as a Service (MaaS) and ‘Netflix for Cars’ ie you only pay for a car when you use one.

The third speaker was Connie Hedegaard the former Danish Minister for Climate and Energy and former EU Commissioner for Climate Action. Unfortunately, at the last moment, she was unable to come to Ireland for personal reasons but sent a message which is available on YouTube. The first part of her talk was about climate change in general while the second half focused on the role of bicycles in Copenhagen.

During a discussion which followed, one of the assembly members suggested that government ministers should have to use public transport for a month. This was warmly welcomed but the Chair stated that unfortunately that message could not be conveyed to government. There was also a suggestion (which I thought had some merit) that subsidies for electric vehicles should be greater for people living in rural areas than in Dublin.

Later sessions dealt with energy and agriculture.

 

Day 2

The second day began with an address by John Fitzgerald, Chair of the Climate Change Advisory Council. He gave a speech which was well received by the audience in which he discussed the scale of the problem and the degree of change that would be required to meet Ireland’s challenge on climate change.

The secretariat and a panel of experts had drawn up a draft Ballot paper which was divided into four sections including one on Transport. Based on feedback from the members, they proposed three questions related to transport on sustainable travel, electric vehicles and public transport.

In the initial draft, there was no text entered for the question on sustainable travel. Text in red proposed a ‘great’ increase in cycling, park and ride and ‘much greater priority’ for them over private cars. The problem was that ‘greatly increased’ or ‘much greater priority’ was not defined.

The second question was in relation to the electric vehicle promotion and referred to year on year increases in taxes on petrol and diesel.

The third question was in relation to expansion of public transport spending over road infrastructure at a ratio of no less than 2:1. This was quite a radical view but the original wording was watered down by the change of ‘road infrastructure’ to ‘new road infrastructure’. The addition of ‘new’ was very significant as most road expenditure is on existing roads rather than ‘new’ roads per se. The wording also referred to public transport with particular attention on rural areas. However, the economic reality is that public transport will always be concentrated on urban areas due to the higher population density.

Overall, I doubt that the motions will cause the mandarins in the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport to lose any sleep.

Observations on the Process

It felt good to be see democracy in action (even as an observer) where people had come together to come to discuss and reach agreement on topical subjects. The Chair had commented that there was a greater number of observers for this meeting of the Citizens’ Assembly than previous sessions.  One observer present was a representative from the Council of Europe while another had come from Belgium. This brought home to me the international interest in the proceedings of our Citizens’ Assembly. Justice Mary Laffoy was an excellent Chair, but with the benefit of hindsight I had a number of reservations about the process. While the wordings and amendments to wordings were all proposed and accepted by the Assembly, my concern was about the information which was presented to the Assembly.  As someone who believes in the benefits to society of mass cycling, it was disappointing that the two of the three nominated speakers only referred to cycling in passing. The third speaker did devote half of her talk to cycling but it was in terms of the level of cycling in Copenhagen. Rather than ‘experts’, someone locally could point out barriers to cycling in Ireland, to the lack of children cycling to school, to WHO recommendations on levels of spending on walking and cycling and to the financial cost of Ireland failing to achieve climate change targets. I accept that cycling plays only a small part in the prevention of climate change and that not everyone would be exercised by it but I strongly feel that the motion on greatly increased cycle lanes was too bland, too general and too open to interpretation to carry much weight. For a mode of transport which in other countries can carry more than 20% of people, I regret to say that the outcome was disappointing.

Secondly, the experts and their areas of expertise was also open a cause of concern. A member of the Assembly raised the issue of a congestion charge which politicians in London introduced and which Stockholm citizens voted to introduce. One of the panel of experts replied that a congestion charge could not be introduced until public transport and park and ride facilities in Dublin are improved. I very much doubt that people in London or Stockholm were asked for their opinion on public transport before politicians introduced the congestion charge in those cities. While congestion, air pollution and health concerns are among the main drivers for change, it was troubling that  ‘business as usual’ was considered acceptable until however long it might take to bring public transport and park/ride facilities in Ireland up to an ‘acceptable’ level.

Finally, there were thirteen votes on different aspects of climate change. Most of the votes were overwhelmingly carried with more than 90% of citizens in favour which indicated to me that the motions were designed to reflect overwhelming majority opinion rather than gauge where people stood on a contentious issue.

MAYNOOTH CYCLING CAMPAIGN NOTES – November 2017

 Kilcock Road Worse for Cyclists

Kildare County Council has recently made changes to the Kilcock Road at Laraghbryan which not only fail to attract new cyclists but also makes the situation worse for existing cyclists so for anyone who cycles or would like to cycle, it is a case of ‘Lose Lose’.

17 Nov Kilcock Road

They do not seem to realise that the Department of Transport stopped funding the conversion of hard shoulders for cycling some four or five years ago and that Irish, UK and Dutch standards recommend that cyclists are segregated on roads where the speed limit is 60kph or higher.  The result of the changes is that drivers expect cyclists to use the hard shoulder and some cyclists have been blown at for exercising their right to cycle on the ‘road’.

The Electric Car- Panacea for Modern Ills?

Some twenty years ago, it was cars which ran on lead free petrol. Five or six years ago, car salesmen were promising that diesel engines were the future rather than greenhouse gas producing petrol engines. Now they are hyping electric cars as the new improved environmentally friendly car. What will Mill Street look like full of electric cars? Well actually exactly the same as it looks full of cars powered by petrol or diesel engines. In a recent article, Prof Frank Kelly of Kings College London says “Fewer not cleaner vehicles are needed” and has warned that the UK government already accepts there is no safe limit for the tiny pollution particles from brake and tyre dust.

 Budget 2018

. In October, the government announced the budget for 2018. Maynooth Cycling Campaign and other cycling groups had been looking for 10% of the land transport budget (€165Million) to be allocated to cycling or at least the announcement of a roadmap towards that target. What was the outcome? Well the Minister has allocated €110 for walking and cycling over four years which amounts to an average annual allocation of €27.5M. So how much will the Minister give to cycling? Who knows? He could give €27 Million to cycling and €0.5 Million to walking. Then again, he could €0.5 Million to cycling and €27 Million to walking. Or he could nothing in the first three years and backload cycling in year 4. Like any three card trick, the viewer has to try to guess where the Queen (ie money) is.

In Sweden the government has just announced that they will be providing €35M per year until 2020 just to promote (electric) e- bikes. Transport is one of the main causes of increasing greenhouse gases which lead to climate change and weather extremes. The lack of joined up thinking between our pattern of travel and global warming is astonishing. Expect more storms.

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 Cyclist.ie, the Irish Cycling Advocacy Network and through it to the European Cycling Federation. Membership is FREE. If you want to support our work, just email your contact details to maynoothcycling@gmail.com .

NTA Makes Dog’s Dinner of Cycle Quality

The NTA have made a dog’s dinner of cycle facility quality. Yes they are concerned about quality and yes they refer to it in the National Cycle Manual but does anyone outside the NTA really understand it?

When people are booking a hotel, they have an understanding of the ‘Star’ system of ranking. They may not understand the difference between a 2 star and 3 star hotel but they understand that a 3 star hotel is more luxurious or offers better facilities than a 2 star one and would expect to pay more for it (all other things being equal).

So what is the story with the quality of cycle facilities? There are five levels of service – A+, A, B, C and D. Any cycle facility which does not fall into the first four is level D. Width is one of five determinants of quality the other being number of conflicts, percentage of HGVs on the route, pavement condition and journey time delay. (There has been some modification to pavement condition as a result of the development of the Greater Dublin Cycle Network but the amendments have not been incorporated into the written or digital Manual.) Width is by far the most important determinant, so what does the Manual say about width and level of service? The Manual assesses width in terms of the number of adjacent cyclists as shown below.

So is the width of Level C the same as Level D? And is the width of Level A the same as Level B? What is the width of a Level A facility? In Section 1.5.2, there are references to widths of five cycling regimes but the Manual does not state if the cycling regimes correspond to the Level of Service, and furthermore the exact meaning of different regimes is unclear and open to interpretation. For example what does basic two way mean?

Section 1.5.1 of the Manual on Determining Width includes the following
The designed width of a cycle facility is comprised of the effective width, i.e. the
space that is “usable” by cyclists, as well as the clearances that will be required in
different circumstances.

Effective width as opposed to designed or constructed width is a very important concept as it takes conditions on either side into account. This is important as local authorities often provide a 2m wide cycle track with kerbs adjacent to the footpath on one side and adjacent to a traffic lane on the other, which only has an effective width of 1m.

To make matters worse, the Manual defines the minimum width of a shared footway as 3m, but whether this is effective width or designed/constructed width is not clarified and it does not define whether this is one way cycling shared with two way pedestrians or two way cycling shared with two way pedestrians. The MAnual does not take the level of use into account. As 3m is the minimum standard in accordance with the National Cycling Manual, it is assumed that the level of service for cycling is the fifth and lowest category ie D. Then, just when you think that the NTA couldn’t complicate things further, they succeed.

In 2015, they published a Permeability Best Practice Guide which also has five levels of service but in this case they are A,B,C, D and E. Section 3 of the Guide defines widths for the different Quality of Service (see below) but doesn’t define whether these are effective or constructed widths.

Permeability Quality of Service

The Best Practice Guide states that local authorities in urban areas should aim to provide a Level A quality of service for any pedestrian or cycle links between residential areas and destinations such as schools and shops. Not unreasonably, the document goes on to point out that Level A will often be unachievable due to constraints but at least sets out a high target.

So where does that leave the common situation that arises where one section of a route has segregated cycle facilities and the next section has a 3m wide shared footway? Using the permeability criteria, the shared section is ranked category B and C (second and third) but using the National Cycle Manual criteria, it is D (fifth). What would you think of an organisation which ranks a hotel as one star, three star and four star at the same time? The idea of a star ranking is good. It gives cycle campaigners, politicians and the general public a crude but convenient assessment of quality. However, the time to properly define its use is long overdue.