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New government can meet CO2 targets if more of us travel by bike

Bicycle users from all around Ireland have called on all political parties to prioritise everyday cycling in both transport, environment and public health policies.

Cyclist.ie, the Irish Cycling Advocacy Network, maintains that the normalisation of everyday cycling will address several aims in achieving a fairer society, a better functioning economy and dealing meaningfully with the ever increasing C02 emissions from Ireland’s transport sector.

We note that:

  • Only 6,252 primary school students (out of a total number of 501,464) — 1.25% — cycle to school. Meanwhile in Denmark, 44% of all children aged 10-16 cycle to school.
  • 26% of nine-year-olds in Ireland are overweight or obese.
  • We need radical reductions in CO2 emissions from the Irish transport sector as per the recent climate change agreement.
  • Our vision is for everyday cycling to be a normal part of life for all ages and abilities — very similar to the ways it is in many northern European countries.

We want all political parties to:

  • Allocate at least 10% of transport funding to cycling. It is currently below 1%.
  • Implement in full the National Cycle Policy Framework (NCPF).
  • We must achieve at least 10% of all journeys by bike by 2020. It is currently only approx 2% at national level and 8% within Dublin city.
  • Appoint a National Cycling Officer in the Dept of Transport. This is a crucial step in being able to implement the NCPF effectively.
  • Make 30km/h the default urban speed limit. Note Graz in Austria was the first city in Europe that introduced a city wide 30 km/h zone. Around 800 kilometres of 1,000 kilometres of city streets have been calmed. After six months, there was a 24% reduction in serious accidents.
  • Introduce a legally enforced 1.5-metre gap for overtaking cyclists.
  • Provide for contra-flow cycling on one-way streets.
  • We must also upskill An Garda Síochána to understand cycling so as to address (1) dangerous overtaking (2) illegal parking in cycle tracks, and provide mandatory cycle training in all primary and secondary schools.

Improvements have been made over the last seven years but they have been piece-meal at best. There is still a complete lack of engagement with the need for children to enjoy the standards of independent mobility that children 20 years ago did.

Damien Ó Tuama

National Cycling Coordinator for Cyclist.ie and Cork Cycling Campaign


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