Seven third-level education and research institutes in Cork, attended by some 48,000 staff and students, have united to call for better cycling infrastructure.
The heads of each of the institutions, attended by some 48,000 students and staff, have co-signed letters to Transport Minister Shane Ross and Anne Graham, chief executive of the National Transport Authority, urging them to prioritise funding to deliver the Cork Cycle Network Plan and extend the range of the city's successful bike share scheme.
The detailed document, produced in 2017, sets out a coordinated plan for the development of integrated, safe and coherent cycling infrastructure in the city centre, suburbs and across Metropolitan Cork.
It includes proposals to link towns like Ballincollig, Blarney, Carrigaline, Cobh and Midleton to the city centre via bike lanes, and proposals for lengthy greenways, including a continuous cycling link from Ballincollig to Passage West.
But campaigners say the region’s cycling infrastructure has, to date, been rolled out in a piecemeal fashion.
Now, UCC, CIT, Griffith College Cork, Cork College of Commerce, St John’s Central College, Tyndall National Institute and Coláiste Stiofáin Naofa, have thrown their weight behind the CyclingWorks Cork initiative which was launched last November to secure high-quality cycling infrastructure.
The colleges said their staff and student numbers are almost equivalent to the population of Waterford and while significant population growth is expected, the car remains the dominant mode of transport.
The institutions said their call for better cycling infrastructure was motivated by several points, including:
the health benefits of cycling, and the importance of their staff and students' safety in cycling to college
the importance of low-cost, sustainable transport options in boosting Cork's competitiveness, which helps attract top staff and students.
They also noted their responsibility to educate and take the lead in environmental sustainability.
UCC President Professor Pat O’Shea, who cycles regularly, said students and staff need safer and more coherent cycle routes.
“A core mission of our university is sustainability and as a daily cyclist I can testify to the benefits you enjoy and the challenges a cyclist faces,” he said.
CIT President Dr Barry O’Connor said the institution has long been committed to eco-friendly access to and from its campuses - both in the city and at Bishopstown.
“A safer and wider network of cycle lanes is imperative at this point, together with an extension of the city bikes' range to include the CIT Bishopstown Campus and CUH," he said.