The Department of Transport Tourism and Sport (DTTaS) and the Road Safety Authority (RSA) can rightly claim responsibility for the large decrease in road fatalities over the last thirty years. However,  in claiming a reduction in road fatalities in 2018, they are blind to the trend of increasing cyclist fatalities since 2011 and by failing to properly allocate for safer cycling, the DTTaS perpetuates a road and traffic environment where cyclist safety is secondary.

The DTTaS and the RSA are very concerned about the number of fatalities on Irish roads. At the end of each year, they respond to the annual number of fatalities and welcome the results if the number goes down and lament if the number goes up. Their benchmark for success or failure of road safety policy is annual number of fatalities relative to the previous year. This is a good yardstick when the numbers involved are relatively large. When the number is relatively small, as in cyclist fatalities, the total for consecutive years can vary widely.

If, however, the number of fatalities is averaged over three years the effect of large swings is reduced and longer term trends are discernible. Analysis using a three year average shows that cyclist fatalities were at a low point in 2011 but have since risen significantly  – more than 50%, albeit over seven years. Other countries which have significantly increased the level of cycling, have done so while simultaneously reducing the number of fatalities.

Colm Ryder, Chair of, the Irish Cycling Advocacy Network, states “The increasing level of cyclist fatalities in Ireland is unacceptable. To address this as a matter of urgency, the DTTaS must begin to properly allocate for cycling”.

The DTTaS currently spends less than 2% of its transport capital budget on cycling.  To maximise the contribution of cycling to reducing carbon emissions and increase health and environmental outcomes, the Minister must increase expenditure to 10% of the Land Transport capital budget, and not to 10% of the Public Transport budget as recently announced. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has reported that the next twelve years are critical to prevent global warming  beyond 1.5o. The  clock is ticking ……..

For Attached Graph and Table, see below

181222 Cie DTTaS Press Release Ver2




Reference: RSA/Garda Siochana, Provisional Review of Fatal Collisions January to 31  December 2018 pdf Press Release – CLIMATE ACTION: MINISTER ROSS MUST INVEST IN CYCLING

The following press release appeared in the Examiner on 21st December.

The Government’s recently published Annual Transition Statement 2018 has ignored the potential for cycling to reduce transport emissions.  The legislation is designed to enable Ireland’s transition to a low carbon, climate resilient and environmentally sustainable economy by 2050. However, the section of the Statement dealing with the decarbonising of the transport sector  demonstrates a complete failure by Minister Ross and his Department to grasp the potential contribution that cycling can make to a reduction in carbon emissions.

Transport accounts for over 52% of energy used in Ireland and is increasing. It is one of the four key areas where a reduction in carbon emissions is required to meet our international obligations. Section 4.4 of the Annual Sectoral Mitigation Statement deals with decarbonising transport and states that this involves providing meaningful alternatives to the private car, continuing investment in sustainable transport and promotion of modal shift.

However, in the accompanying National Mitigation Plan Actions, a different narrative unfolds – one where rhetoric is divorced from anything remotely approaching meaningful action.

The Update Report on Actions contains a section entitled “Actions not delivered as planned”. It includes words like “publish”, “review”, and “strategy” rather than “fund” and “enable”. Six of the actions were due to be completed by the Department of Transport Tourism and Sport in 2017. These include “Publish a review of the National Cycle Policy Framework” which originally commenced in 2013 and which 5 years on has still not been completed.

Under Actions Complete, the Decarbonising Transport section lists five items.  The DTTAS were responsible for two – setting up a behavioural change working group and publication of a Greenway Strategy. Greenway funding is welcome but it is disingenuous to claim that publication of a strategy or the setting up of a working group will reduce emissions and it is noted that no estimate of emission reduction is included.

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, Minister Ross must adopt much more ambitious actions than currently outlined. Cycling is the mode of transport for more than 40% of people in many progressive European cities.  Cycling will not solve the problem of climate change on its own, but as 57% of Irish journeys are less than 8 km, it can make a significant contribution as well as alleviating congestion, contributing to cleaner air, improving health outcomes and creating attractive neighbourhoods, For cycling to play its part however, Minister Ross must begin to properly fund high quality cycling infrastructure which will enable cycling for all.

“Cycling offers the best and quickest return on investment of all transport expenditure. We urgently need to invest a minimum of 10% of transport funding in cycling infrastructure, to give people a safe, attractive alternative to the car” says Gerry Dornan, Vice Chairperson of, the Irish Cycling Advocacy Network.

Nearly two thousand years ago, the Emperor Nero is reputed to have fiddled while Rome burnt. In the next few years we shall see if our current leaders will emulate him or take decisive action to stop climate change.


2019 Cycling Allocation – 1.26% Transport Capital Budget?

Investment in cycling is difficult to estimate. Central government provides funding, local government provides funding, other government bodies provide funding and some infrastructure and/or finance is provided by developers as part of planning conditions.

Irish cycling advocates have long been interested in the level of investment by central government but even there the exact level is difficult to uncover. Efforts by different politicians and parties to find out through parliamentary questions  were unsuccessful with replies carefully crafted to avoid answering the questions. The Minister has made periodic statements about funding both inside and outside the Dáil  but cycling is lumped in with walking or the Minister talks in terms of sustainable travel which also includes investment in buses and trains. If you were to ask most Irish politicians “How much does the government spend on cycling?” – they would have no idea. In countries with high levels of cycling, politicians do know – perhaps not expenditure in a specific year but they have a headline figure which the government aims for.

In Ireland, expenditure in the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport is subdivided into five programmes – (1) Land Transport, (2) Civil Aviation, (3) Maritime Transport and Safety, (4) Sports and Recreational Services and (5) Tourism Services. Of these, Land Transport is the most important area receiving over 90% of the total budget.

The table below gives a breakdown of Land Transport expenditure for 2018. The figures are taken from the Revised Estimates Volume for Public Services 2018 which was published in December 2017. In the future, these will be reclassified as provisional figures before the actual expenditure outturns are finalised, as shown in the annual Appropriation Accounts. The government provides a similar level of detail on expenditure for all departments but does not give a breakdown of expenditure at  lower levels.

2018 Current Non Pay Current Pay Pension Capital Grand Total
 B.1 – Administration – Pay 12,460 12,460
 B.2 – Administration – Non Pay 2,237 295 2,532
 B.3 – Road Improvement/maintenance 72,207 19,160 2,130 815,356 908,853
 B.4 – Road Safety Agencies & Expenses 1,853 2,774 139 350 5,116
 B.5 – Vehicle And Driver Licencing Expenses 15,900 3,500 19,400
 B.6 – Carbon Reduction 5,500 5,500
 B.7 – Public Service Provision Payments 281,713 18,650 300,363
 B.8 – Public & Sustainable Transport Investment Programme 1,605 398,940 400,545
 B.9 – Public Transport Agencies & Expenses 2,819 2,830 11 5,660
 B.10 – Miscellaneous Services 78 78
Total €378,412 €37,224 €2,280 €1,242,591 €1,660,507

TABLE 1       Land Transport Expenditure 2018  (€ 000)
                     (Source: Databank Department of Public Expenditure & Reform)

Most areas in Land Transport receive negligible capital investment. The two which stand out are Road Improvement/Maintenance at €815M (or 65% of the total) and Public & Sustainable Transport Investment Programme at €398 (or 32.1% of the total).  This clearly demonstrates the disparity between the capital allocation for roads as opposed to all other modes of transport including cycling.

Public Transport & Sustainable Transport is the main source of funding for cycling. However, funding for cycling  is also provided under other programmes. For example, in 2018 greenways were funded under the Tourism programme while investment in a velodrome appeared under Sport. This article  concentrates on the departmental funding of cycling from Public Transport & Sustainable Transport but also includes Greenways.

We have identified eight areas of expenditure which involve provision for cycling but the same funding may also be used to provide for other modes of transport. In order to estimate the contribution to cycling alone, it is necessary to separate/estimate what proportion of funding goes to cycling and what goes elsewhere.

  1. Bus Connect

Expenditure on Bus Connect is estimated at €79M in 2018. The primary reason for this expenditure is the need to reorganise the bus service. It is considered reasonable that a proportion should be allocated to cycling as the project includes the provision of segregated cycle facilities on part of the Bus Connect network. It was decided to proportion 10% for cycling as that is the government target for cycling. There are grounds for arguing that 10% is too high and other arguments that 10% is too low but as Bus Connect is a new project, it was decided that 10% was reasonable until its outcome in relation to the provision of cycling infrastructure is clear.

  1.  Cycling/Walking

Cycling/Walking has been allocated €8M in 2018 rising to €15 in 2019. In the absence of any further information from the Department, it was considered reasonable to divide the allocation 50:50 betweeen the two modes.

  1.  Sustainable Transport  Mobility Grants (STMG)

STMG has been allocated €14M in 2018. It may be thought that a large percentage goes to cycling but STMG also includes public transport and walking projects. The proportion of 25% was estimated on the basis of the NTA Outturn Reports.

  1.  Smarter Travel Workplaces

The allocation for Smarter Travel Workplace is estimated at €0.60M per annum. Again, it is an area which includes other modes of transport with cycling only accounting for 33% of expenditure.

  1.  Green Schools

The allocation for Green Schools is also modest at €1.65M but once more the proportion which is spent on cycling is low. The proportion of 33% was estimated from Annual Reports from Green Schools.

  1.  Greenways

Greenways are funded under the Tourism heading and are primarily for recreational reasons as public lighting is not generally provided and Waterways Ireland insist on a low quality dust surface which deters many utility and sport cyclists. Greenways, if constructed to a high standard, have the potential to cater for utility cyclists. Therefore, it was thought fair to include their expenditure in order to estimate overall departmental spending on cycling.

  1.  Cycle Right

All funding for Cycle Right goes to cycling.

  1.  Bikeweek

All funding for Bikeweek goes to cycling.

A breakdown of Department funding for cycling for the years 2018-2021 is given in the Table 2. Some of the funding is current rather than capital spending but has been included to get an overall figure for Department spend.

 Area of Expenditure 2018  2019  2020  2021 TOTAL 
Bus Connect
Bus Connect €79.00 €143.00 €246.00 €282.00 €750.00
Cycling Contribution (10%) €7.90 €14.30 €24.60 €28.20 €75.00
Cycling/Walking €8.00 €15.00 €35.00 €52.00 €110.00
Cycling Contribution (50%) €4.00 €7.50 €17.50 €26.00 €55.00
STMG €14.00 €17.00 €47.00 €57.00 €135.00
STMG Cycling Contribution (25%) €3.50 €4.25 €11.75 €14.00 €33.75
Smarter Travel Workplaces
Smarter Travel Workplaces €0.60 €0.60 €0.60 €0.60 €2.40
STW Cycling Contribution (33%) €0.20 €0.20 €0.20 €0.20 €0.79
Green Schools
Green Schools €1.65 €1.65 €1.65 €1.65 €6.60
Green Schools Cycling Contribution (20%) €0.33 €0.33 €0.33 €0.33 €1.32
Cycle Right
Cycle Right (100%) €0.65 €0.65 €0.65 €0.65 €2.60
Greenways – Tourism
Greenways €0.00 €13.45 €15.2 €24.35 €53.00
Greenways Cycling Contribution (50%) €0.00 €6.73 €7.60 €12.18 €26.5
Bikeweek (100%) €0.40 €0.40 €0.40 €0.40 €1.60
DTTAS Expenditure on Cycling €16.98 €34.36 €63.03 €81.96 €196.31

TABLE 2       Departmental Allocation & Contribution to Cycling 2018-2021 (€ M)

In 2018, total expenditure is estimated at €16.98M rising to €34.36M in 2019. The #Allocate4Cycling campaign seeks 10% of the Land Transport Capital budget to be devoted to cycling. As the Land Transport capital budget is estimated at €1243M and €1544M in 2018 and 2019 respectively, this level of expenditure on cycling equates to 1.37% and 2.22% for those years – a long way from what is required to significantly impact on health, congestion, sustainability and climate change.

Of the eight areas of expenditure, the total allocation for four (Smarter Travel Workplaces, Green Schools, Cycle Right and Bikeweek) is negligible at €1.6M per annum. The allocations for Greenways and Cycling/Walking are significant  but most of the funding is in the latter years of the investment programme which shows a lack of priority by the Minister. While he did announce greenway funding of €53M in 2018, no significant if any funding will be spent this year as councils have until November to make an application for schemes. Furthermore, it is assumed that 50% of the Cycling/Walking allocation is for cycling.  In theory it could be anything between 0.1% and 99.9% and still accord with statements by the Minister.

  2018 2019 2020
DTTAS Expenditure on Cycling €9.08 €19.45 €39.40
DTTaS Total Capital Voted Expenditure €1,243.00 €1,544.42 €1,934.52
% Cycling 0.73% 1.26% 2.04%

TABLE 3       % of Departmental Expenditure on Cycling 2018-2020
                      Excluding Bus Connect (€ M)

By far,  the largest area of expenditure  is  the  Bus Connect  project with  contributions to cycling of €7.9M  and  €14.3M in  2018   and  2019.  It  hardly  needs  to be pointed out  that  Bus Connect is  running into problems politically with very vocal opposition to the proposed reorganisation  of bus  routes. If  there  are delay to  routes,  no preliminary  or  detailed designs  can proceed  so it is more than  likely  that any expenditure  on cycling  routes adjacent  to key bus routes  will not  happen  until  the end of  2019  or later.  If  so,  the proportion of  Land Transport capital expenditure allocated to cycling in 2018 and 2019 could fall as low as 0.73% and 1.30% respectively (see Table 3) and  this for a mode of transport which is used for more than 40% of journeys in many Dutch and Danish cities. The Minister has been quoted as saying that his Department “gets” cycling. Unless there is openness on his intended levels of investment,  its impact on levels of cycling  AND a commitment to substantial funding, cycle advocates will continue to disagree.

PS      For  comparison,  Finland,  which  is  similar  in  population  to  Ireland,  has  just announced funding of  €23M for a single cycle project,  albeit the most expensive in its history.



Rear_View copy

The Carton Walk Preservation Society (CWPS) has recently commented on the new cycling and walking link from Limetree Hall to the adjacent Carton Walk.

In particular, a spokesperson has been reported as stating that no-one would want a cycle link. Maynooth Cycling Campaign strongly support the provision of cycle facilities between the residential estates and Main Street as it would be a safe route for children attending the nearby school. The alternative route on the Dublin Road has no cycle facilities and would involve a road crossing. Judging from the above photograph, the pupils at Presentation Girls School would appear to agree with our view.

The CWPS also argue that there has been no consultation on the proposal. The proposed walking/cycling link was shown in the Maynooth Local Area Plan 2013–2019 which went to public consultation and was subsequently approved by county councillors. The work is not of a scale which warrants a separate public consultation so Kildare County County got it right this time. Opposition to improved walking and cycling is both mean spirited and detrimental to a more active community.

10% of Land Transport Budget – #Allocate4Cycling

budget submission_Twitter Photo members, including Maynooth Cycling Campaign, have put together a strong budget submission addressed to Minister for Finance & Public Expenditure Paschal Donohue, outlining the deficiency in government funding supports to enable cycling to grow. Essentially we are calling for an immediate 10% of Land Transport Funding to be allocated to Cycling, to enable the government to meet its own target of 10% of modal share by cycling by 2020. Currently the modal share stands at only approximately 3% of trips by bike, and funding levels are at approximately 2% of Land Transport Funding!

The submission points out that the appropriate funding for cycling aligns with numerous government policies and initiatives across a variety of sectors such as Transport, Environment, Climate Change, Health, Business, and Education. Cycling, as a mode of transport, offers numerous well documented benefits to society, including:

  • Improved public health
  • Reduced congestion
  • Reduced greenhouse gas emissions
  • Reduced air and noise pollution
  • More liveable and sociable streets and communities, and
  • High rates of economic return

Unlocking these benefits requires targeted and sustained investment, and international evidence demonstrates that investing in cycling provides excellent value for money.

From available data we estimate that spending on cycling currently only amounts to approximately 2% of Transport capital spending. This compares to recommended targets of 10% for cycling, and present European levels of between 5% and 8%. This very low proportion is not commensurate with the benefits offered by cycling, or with the significant economic costs which car dependence imposes on Irish society. To encourage people to make more journeys by bicycle;

We call for 10% of the capital budget for land transport to be invested in cycling.

At the same time, an increase in current spending on a range of different objectives which can support a transition to a cycling friendly society is also required.

The full budget submission is available here and a short summary document here. We need YOU to contact your local representatives and make the case to increase funding for cycling. See for the names and contact details of your local TDs.


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.

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.


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).


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.


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).