What the experts want from GE2020 – Cyclist.ie

February 4th, 2020

Over the past three weeks, as in all election cycles, we have become accustomed to the knock at the door from canvassers or candidates themselves are they vie for our number one at the ballot box.

We have asked leading climate and biodiversity experts to tell us the key policy asks that they have raised with candidates when they come a-knocking.

Next up is Martina Callanan who represents Galway Cycling Campaign on the executive council of Cyclist.ie, the Irish Cycling Advocacy Network, whose vision is for cycling to become a normal part of transport and everyday life in Ireland. 

The network sees cycling as a vital part of building  healthier and less polluted communities, and has developed 10 election asks that it Martina has boiled down to three kernel points below.

Row of Bikes Photo: Pixabay

Make cycling a normal everyday activity

Cycling is a critical part of the transport equation in combating Climate Change.  We need everyday cycling to be better and safer, more convenient, and easier. Hopping on your bike should be a more attractive option for the so-called first-mile and last-mile journeys.

No more slashing of funding or paltry rises: major investment is needed to shift people away from car dependency, especially for short journeys under 5km.  This means greater investment in cycling infrastructure and promotion. 

We need our next Government to allocate a minimum 10 per cent of transport funding to cycling immediately as promised under the National Climate Action Plan.  Currently, cycling is allocated a tiny two per cent of our transport spend.

We do not need to reinvent the wheel. Bike safety is highest in countries and cities where bike use is high and people cycling have interconnected networks of segregated routes such as in the Netherlands, Denmark, and Bristol and Manchester in the UK.

It’s as easy as ABC: Allocate 10 per cent of transport funding to cycling; Build safer infrastructure, and everyone will cycle more.

Extinction Rebellion Ireland slow cycle protest Photo: Kayle Crosson

Build safe segregated networks

Manifestos that mention school cycle buses should make us weep with rage. There should be no need for parents and adults to marshal kids to school on bikes, forming human shields between small soft bodies and big, motorised, metal boxes. Cycle buses must not become the norm.

What we need are safe routes to schools and throughout populated areas: networks of segregated cycle paths along roads; safe junction design with priority signalling for people on bikes; and quiet routes through permeable neighbourhoods.  Let’s get designing and building!

Increasing cycling numbers in Ireland will cut congestion, improve public health, and reduce pollution. To get more people cycling, we need to make it an easier and safer choice. Let’s have real cycle networks, safe school routes, and coordinated planning, policy and policing that protects us.

bike accident cyclist Photo: William Murphy

Design fit-for-purpose planning, policy and policing system

The 3 Ps of Planning, Policy and Policing seem a little dry at first glance – but these are the actions that make the good things happen.

Planning  – Building safer cycling infrastructure should be guided by our National Cycle Manual. This design guidance needs urgent updating to upgrade our standards and bring us into line with best international practice.

Policy – We need joined-up thinking for everyday cycling across a myriad of Departments – Transport, Health, Environment, Housing, Education, and Justice. We need a resourced National Cycling Office, preferably within the Department of Transport to coordinate policy and ensure action.

Policing – We have road traffic legislation that considers people who cycle and walk, but enforcement needs greater priority. People who cycle are frustrated and frightened by illegal parking in cycle lanes and dangerous overtaking.

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