Driving Cycling Forward Proposals to Increase the Number of Cyclists in Ireland Background Despite cycling’s prior prevalence as a ‘utility’ mode of transport in Ireland, more recently the activity has suffered from a mounting neglect in favour of carbased transportation. This proposal seeks to improve on and extend recent efforts to reverse this tendency. Labour Youth welcomes the recent increase in the numbers of Irish people cycling and acknowledges the efforts made by a range of bodies to highlight this issue and increase cycling. In particular we wish to reference the first 'National Cycle Policy Framework' produced by the Department of Transport and the comprehensive policy document 'Achieving a Cyclingfriendly Ireland: A National Cycling Promotion Policy', produced by a consortium of regional cycling campaigns (and available at www.cyclist.ie). Furthermore, we wish to highlight the unprecedented success of the 'Dublin Bike Scheme' initiated by the Labour group of Councillors on Dublin City Council, and the 'Cycle to Work' scheme in operation since 2009. Problems nonetheless remain. Increased car use has led to more congestion in Ireland than ever before. Combined with the need for more carbon-neutral, environmentally friendly modes of transport; and the worrying increase in obesity and continued prevalence of heart-disease in Ireland there has never been a better time to add to the number of people cycling. In this document policies are described which will increase both utility and recreational Irish cycling. Labour Youth believes the best way to increase the use of the bicycle is through a policy aimed at augmenting the number of school-going students cycling. This will change our cultural reliance on cars, enable students to develop a life-long cycling habit and encourage parents and other adults to cycle as well.
1. Schools and Cycling Over a twenty year period, between 1986 and 2006, there was an 83% decline in the number of primary pupils cycling to their schools, while in 2006, 44,000 primary pupils were driven a distance of 1km or less to their schools. 1km is a distance that is easily cycled. Following the inauguration of a strong classroom-based campaign to promote cycling to school, Labour Youth expects to see a rapid increase in utility cycling over time. Over time this will eventually develop into a cultural change in transport over short distances, increasing the overall number of cyclists in Ireland. Labour Youth calls for: A National School Cycling Program to be coordinated between the Departments of Education & Science, Health & Children, and Transport to increase the number of school children cycling to their destination. In this program we wish to see: - A promotional document on cycling highlighting the health and environmental benefits to children and their parents, to be distributed through schools. - A temporary reduction in VAT rates on bicycles and associated accessories each November and December to increase seasonal purchases. - A twin series of Public Service Announcements/Advertisements produced by the Road Safety Authority (RSA) and Health Services Executive, on best practise cycling safety and the associated health benefits of cycling, to be aired during children's television programs, teen-focused radio and popular websites, along with a second set to air in prime-time slots aimed at parents and adults. - Training for teachers on cycling safety and best practise, with at least one annual PE class for each class of pupils to be dedicated to how to cycle safely. - Distribution of free reflectors, helmets and other safety gear to schools through partnership with charities or commercial sponsors.
In tandem with this program, there is a requirement for immediate improvements in road infrastructure and signage within 1km of all schools to ensure safe roads and that other drivers are aware of young cyclists. It ought to be noted that cycling by secondary school students is male dominated. Labour Youth thus calls for: - Adequate changing and showering facilities for cycling students to be provided at all secondary schools in the morning. - The relaxation of school uniform codes to allow female students to wear trousers or tracksuit bottoms instead of skirts, which can be a barrier to cycling.
2. The General Public and Cycling Labour Youth calls for: - National efforts to educate motor vehicle drivers on how to accommodate cyclists on the road and the appropriate rules and best practises that apply. The RSA should produce the necessary promotional materials and videos. - Cycling safety laws requiring lights, bells and visibility clothing for all cyclists. - On-the-spot fines for cyclists to ensure correct behaviour on the road. - Expansion and adaptation of the 'Cycle to Work' scheme for a period of twelve months, to allow all citizens to claim a once-off tax credit on bicycle purchases and the introduction of a discount rate of 21% (equal to VAT) for the unemployed, retired and students, at designated retailers.
3. Public Infrastructure Labour Youth has taken into account many of the issues highlighted already in other cycling reports and the ongoing attempts to increase the prevalence of cycling in Ireland. Labour Youth supports the 'Hierarchy of Provision'
approach outlined by the policy framework produced by the cycling lobby; and call for: - Immediate increases in the provision of bicycle parking and storage facilities at all public buildings, transport hubs, schools, and hospitals and in any future commercial development through planning regulations. - Immediate provision of storage spaces for bicycles on trains and trams to increase intermodal transport, coupled with the phased introduction of storage facilities on buses. - Pedestrianised streets with heavy footfall to remain closed to mounted cyclists, though we believe each Local Authority should be allowed to determine whether a pedestrianised zone could be opened to cyclists and if so, suitable surface markings should be applied to highlight this dual use. - Introduction of a series of road signs to cater specifically for the needs of cyclists. - Introduction of contra-flow bicycle lanes on one-way streets in city and town centres.
4. Public Bike Schemes Due to the phenomenal success of the Dublin Bike Scheme Labour Youth believe that there is the potential for significant demand for related schemes throughout the country. Labour Youth calls for: - The expansion of the Dublin Bike scheme to targeted areas in the suburbs of Dublin. - The provision of similar facilities in all towns with populations of over 30,000 under a 'National Bike Scheme' through Government funding. Labour Youth believes the issue of head protection needs to be addressed within the current framework of bike-rental schemes and we believe the best
mechanism to do this is through helmet sales, subsided by the operator, and available either at the rental-station or in retail outlets located in the vicinity.
5. Increasing Recreational and Tourist Cycling Ireland has often been a difficult venue for cycling tourists due to motor drivers being unfamiliar with how to accommodate and approach cyclists and high speed limits on rural roads. It was reported that the number of cycling tourists had fallen from 130,000 in 2000, to 50,000 in 2007, and we welcome the fact that Fรกilte Ireland has published a 'Strategy for the Development of Irish Cycle Tourism' to combat this decline. Labour Youth believes that the measures we have outlined on improving the public's awareness of cyclists through publicity campaigns and educational programs will enable Ireland to reverse the often-negative impressions formed by tourists. Labour Youth calls for: - Specific routes around Ireland be designated as 'cyclist-friendly' and that appropriate signage, road maintenance and infrastructure be provided to encourage cycling tourists to use these routes. - Fรกilte Ireland to continue to promote cycling tourism and ensure that a national map of cycling routes is published by 2011, available at all tourist centres and entry points to Ireland. - Through the 'National Bike Scheme', individual rental stations to be provided for visitors in the vicinity of all Tourism Offices and transport hubs in villages and towns, where no private rental facilities exist. - Adequate changing and showering facilities for recreational cyclists to be provided at major tourist attractions.