Maynooth Cycling Campaign and the Naas Access Group have joined together with others in a national campaign to #KissTheGatesGoodbye. The campaign wants the removal of barriers to towpaths and recreational areas for people with disabilities and users of non-standard bikes. We invited Kildare County Council’s Access Officer to Sallins to see for himself the difficulty that some people have in accessing the Grand Canal due to kissing gates or similar barriers. Members brought a wheelchair, a tandem and a cargo bike to demonstrate the difficulty for someone young or not able bodied to pass through the gate. We would like to thank the Access Officer for meeting us.
Kildare has relatively few of these barriers. Most are located along the Grand and Royal Canals such as at Leixlip and Sallins. Some are in lands owned by Coillte near Edenderry. A few are in miscellaneous places such as adjacent to Limetree Hall in Maynooth (See photo below).
Responsibility for the majority of such barriers in Kildare primarily lies with Waterways Ireland. Although Waterways has a responsibility for universal access in its own right, the Council also has a responsibility as planning authority to ensure that new developments are fit for purpose and do not discriminate. Maynooth Cycling Campaign calls on the Council to implement best international practice which in this case is to design an access to cater for a Bicycle Vehicle (2.5m long and 1.3m wide).
Admittedly, in some areas, there is a problem with quads and scrambler bikes. The default solution to this of bodies like Waterways Ireland is to put barriers like kissing gates in everywhere whereas the right solution is enforcement by An Garda Siochana. In February 2021, Minister Eamon Ryan announced that An Garda Siochana would be given powers to seize scramblers and quads on private property so the issue has been getting attention at a high level of government.
n the north, some councils erect signs advising people to ring the police. It is not the emergency number ie 999 – it is a lower priority but still gives some assurance that the police takes the problem seriously.
We call on Kildare County Council (1) to replace any such accesses for which it is responsible, (2) to require third party developers such as Waterways Ireland to design for “Bicycle Vehicles” in new developments and (3) to urge Waterways Ireland to replace other existing substandard accesses.
At the end of August, Kildare County Council invited Maynooth Cycling Campaign to take part in Bikeweek. We proposed a number of actions including advance publicity, two organised cycles around Maynooth and engagement with secondary schools in Maynooth, Celbridge and Leixlip as well as Maynooth primary schools. We submitted an estimate of costs and added a percentage to cover the cost of our insurances and time in preparing and running the events. We also looked for clarification on a number of conditions but as we did not get a reply, we reluctantly decided not to proceed. Maynooth Cycling Campaign has been involved in Bikeweek since 2012 and have used Bikeweek funding to buy from local shops so we were disappointed not to be able to do so again this year.
Although Bikeweek is funded by the Department of Transport and organised in conjunction with the local authorities, voluntary groups are expected to pay the cost of insurances. Furthermore although prompt payment legislation ensures that invoices must be paid promptly, Kildare County Council has forced Maynooth Cycling Campaign to wait two lengthy periods – 8 and 11 months before being reimbursed for costs. As Maynooth Cycling Campaign does not have its own bank account, we informed Kildare County Council that we wanted funds to be temporarily transferred to us via Dublin Cycling Campaign CLG/Cyclist.ie (rather than an individual’s private account). Dublin Cycling Campaign CLG/Cyclist.ie is a company approved by the Irish Charity Regulator and the intention was to improve the campaign’s cash flow. When Kildare County Council failed to reimburse Maynooth Cycling Campaign in a prompt manner, the effect was therefore to effectively retain money intended for a charity.
Ireland did not meet its 2021 target for reduction in road fatalities even though traffic levels had reduced due to the pandemic.
Speeding had increased.
Most fatal accidents occur in the time period 12:00 (mid-day) – 4:00pm at a time at which most schools close and pupils are returning home.
Only 3% of trips nationally are by bicycle but 20% of serious injuries are to cyclists.
For some time, Cyclist.ie including Maynooth Cycling Campaign has been campaigning for the RSA and Departments of Transport and Justice to introduce a dedicated portal for road users to upload video evidence of dangerous behaviour. In non-fatal collisions with conflicting reports between drivers and vulnerable road users, An Garda Siochána is unable to decide on who is telling the truth without corroborating evidence. In the case of fatal collisions involving cyclists and pedestrians, the court often hears only one side of what has happened. However, many cyclists and indeed motorists use video cameras to record their journeys so that there is independent corroboration available. In the UK for the last three years, the authorities have encouraged people to upload such videos as the police cannot be everywhere..
In June during a debate in the Dáil, Deputy Ciarán Cannon called for An Garda Siochána to set up a similar portal in Ireland so that trained officers could assess the evidence and bring forward persecutions if warranted. The government rejected the proposal citing strict standards relating to photographic evidence. However, the UK legal system is similar to the Irish one so legislation could be introduced to resolve the issue. Furthermore, the government response ignores calls by An Garda Siochána for submission of videos in the case of road fatalities and serious crimes.
In 2017, Tonya McEvoy, while out with her cycling club, was fatally injured in a collision with a driver of a vehicle in Rathcoffey near Maynooth. In 2021 after a trial by jury, the driver was acquitted of a charge of dangerous driving. While there were a number of factors which may have contributed to the fatality, no-one – neither the car driver or drivers of other cars in the vicinity – were held responsible for the fatality. This is now history. The introduction of a video portal will not bring back Tonya McEvoy but it will help to make the road safer by reducing the number of near misses and close passes.
Postscript: In early July, Deputy Cannon was cycling in Mayo when he sustained serious injuries in a collision with a vehicle. It will take a minimum period of 12 months assuming that he will fully recover. We wish him well.
How do we make it safe for children to walk/cycle to school? How can active travel improve healthy streets? How do we attract people out of cars? Join us for a virtual public meeting to explore these questions at 8pm on Thursday 10 June. To register for our Zoom meeting please email email@example.com
We commend the recent report by Seán Ó Broin on Survey of Car Parking and Bicycle Facilities in Maynooth and agree with many of his conclusions. However, we strongly oppose his suggestion that
There is no point in the Local Authority incurring expenditure on the provision of additional lane facilities within Maynooth in the absence of adequate facilities at starting ……. and finishing points
While the provision of cycle parking is an essential element in enabling cycling, the cost of an individual parking stand is minor compared to the cost of providing high quality cycle infrastructure. It remains the single most important element in enabling everyday cycling.
Car and bicycle parking is available at the following locations:
Table 1: The Availability of Car & Bicycle Parking in Maynooth
While most of the locations have a lack of adequate / suitable parking facilities, parking is sufficient at a number of the remaining places. Specifically, it is our opinion that
At Manor Mills, the parking hoops are poor quality “wheel bender” frames which are poorly located as they are remote from the shopping centre entrances.
At Aldi, the cycle stands are substandard. Each should be able to cater for two bikes but have been placed too close together at 500mm apart rather than 1000mm.
The KCC Pay & Display Car Park is not a natural location for bike parking as there is no “destination” nearby. Cyclists would generally choose to park adjacent to their destination or even better at the entrance to their destination. Bike parking at a remote location would only be used if it offered increased cycle security – which the Pay and Display Car Park does not do.
Carton Retail Park has bike parking but it is remote from the shops and is open to all weather conditions. The bike lockers are adjacent to one of the entrances to the Tesco supermarket. However, cyclists have to pay for the lockers whereas parking for car users is free.
There are also a number of individual Sheffield stands which are located in small groups along Main Street, on Straffan Road and at the Harbour Field. They are sufficient in number.
Parking is normally dealt with as a conditions of planning and the County Development Plan lays down a minimum standards of provision for the parking of both cars and bikes. However, while parking for cars is rigorously enforced, parking for bikes is often overlooked and no enforcement action is taken to ensure that planning conditions are met in full.
The big lie of road design is that designs are future proofed to take account of future demand. It is true that they are future proofed but they are future proofed on the assumption that use of private vehicles will increase. They are not future proofed in accordance with government policies to decarbonise transport or on health objectives.
Approximately eight years ago, the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (DTTAS) in Ireland developed a suite of papers which led to the Strategic Framework for Investment in Land Transport (SFILT) and in 2015 the Strategic Investment Framework for Land Transport (SIFLT). Both SFILT and SIFLT largely reflected 20th century thinking on investment in transport with a roads first policy. This was despite active travel having been identified as a major contributor to combating obesity and growing concern among public health experts about sedentary lifestyles and the impact on both adults and children. The suite did include a paper on climate change but the paper was published before the 2015 Paris Agreement and the 2018 Citizen’s Assembly report.
In 2016, the DTTAS published the Common Appraisal Framework for Transport Projects and Programmes. Its purpose was
….. to develop a common framework for the appraisal of transport investments that is consistent with the Public Spending Code (PSC) and also elaborates on the Public Spending Code in respect of the appraisal of transport projects and programmes to assist scheme promoters in constructing robust and comparable business cases for submission to Government.
In essence, it set down the parameters for the assessment of road schemes based on the roads orientated SFILT/SIFLT. Needless to say, the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (DTTAS) had identified a large number of major road schemes across the country and in 2018 the Common Appraisal Framework was used to justify their inclusion in the National Development Plan.
After the general election in 2020, the new Programme for Government included an unprecedented increase in funding for walking and cycling for which all government parties deserve credit. However, since then there has been pushback by officials and politicians who continue to prioritise roads. The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform published a Review of the National Development Plan (Review to Renew) in which the Strategic Investment Priorities list National Roads as the second priority behind Housing and Sustainable Urban Development, but ahead of Environmentally Sustainable Public Transport in fourth place, Climate Action in eighth place and Education, Health and Childcare in tenth place.
The cross-party Joint Oireachtas Committee on Transport adopted a similar line. The Committee claims to accept the objective of decarbonisation of transport to meet national targets and/or that the carbon impact of projects should form part of project appraisal. However, in a submission to Review to Renew, the Chair of the Committee, Kieran O’Donnell T.D., listed the priorities as
(i) The national road network,
(ii) Environmentally sustainable public transport and
(iii) Airports and ports.
The Committee claims that the national road network is the key to regional connectivity, not only for motorised vehicles, but also for cyclists. (Only the 1% of cyclists “brave cyclists” would agree with that statement.)
The Committee also expressed concern that the current Minister for Transport had revised SIFLT and that the revision, now called the National Investment Framework for Land Transport in Ireland (NIFTI) was already being used to assess projects. The Committee welcomed the commitment from the Minister that the NIFTI will go to public consultation and will be approved by the government before finalisation of the Review to Renew but it put down a marker that it intends to engage further with the Minister and his Department on this strategy.
In planning future transport needs, two key steps are the use of databases to estimate current car trip generation and the extension of car trip generation to future decades. In plain English, this means estimating how many trips will result from a proposed development in the current year and how many additional trips will result in the future, typically a period of twenty or thirty years.
Irish engineers generally use a largely UK database such as TRICs to predict the number of journeys generated by private vehicles. However, the result of Ireland emulating a country with one of the highest car dependency rates in Europe (rather than a country such as the Netherlands with one of the lowest), reinforces the status quo and in Ireland in the last twenty years has contributed to flatlining in the proportion of people cycling nationally.
TII sets out the calculation of future demand on national roads for the next 30 years in its Project Appraisal Guidelines for National Roads Unit 5.3 – Travel Demand Projections. As it specifies a growth rate in future years of between 1% and 3% per annum depending on the county and assumed growth rate, TII are in theory designing roads on the basis of up to 90% more trips in 2051 than at present. In recent years, the TII has published National Road Indicators annually which report the actual growth of traffic on the national road network. The results are shown in Table 1:
Table 1: Annual Growth of Traffic on the National Road Network
So between 2015 and 2019, the actual annual growth of traffic on national roads is even greater than the TII’s highest prediction with some regions of the country experiencing rates in excess of 5% per annum. This gives rise to questions about the sustainability and cost benefit analysis of current road plans.
Phil Goodwin is emeritus professor of transport policy at a number of UK universities and some twenty years ago was one of the first academics to report on the phenomenon of “evaporating” or “disappearing traffic“. In an article last year on the appraisal of road schemes,he challenged the cost of carbon used in the cost benefit analysis of new roads and how the increase of carbon emissions from cars using new roads is minimised by comparison to the percentage of overall carbon emissions. This is in contrast with employment, where additional employment, whether for 10 or 1000 new jobs, is welcomed as a positive thing rather than comparing the increase as a percentage of overall employment levels. In response to the largest ever road building programme in the UK, he wrote
The new decarbonisation strategy requires that we will use cars less, by a substantial amount.
A similar reduction is required in Ireland. The Appraisal Guidelines refers to four scenarios – Sustainable & Urban Communities, Global Communities, Dispersed Communities and Car focussed Communities but it appears that local authorities, which are responsible for planning transport infrastructure only concentrate on the last scenario – Car Focussed Communities – in developing their Transport Strategies.
Neither the Department of Transport nor the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Transport acknowledges in a meaningful way the central role of transport in creating unhealthy communities and the financial burden it imposes on society. If this government is to be successful, the current road projects in the National Development Plan must be reviewed with revised appraisals and realistic models to ensure that future investment is in accordance with current government objectives rather than ones that belong in the past.
(A default limit does not prevent a different limit being introduced)
Maynooth Cycling Campaign joins Love 30, The Campaign for Lower Speed Limits, in calling on the Oireachtas to provide for a default urban speed limit of 30 km/h in the forthcoming Road Traffic (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill.
Ireland was a signatory in February 2020 of the Stockholm Declaration of the Third Global Ministerial Conference on Road Safety, which was subsequently endorsed by the General Assembly of the United Nations. Paragraph 11 committed to:
“mandate a maximum road travel speed of 30 km/h in areas where vulnerable road users and vehicles mix in a frequent and planned manner, except where strong evidence exists that higher speeds are safe, noting that efforts to reduce speed in general will have a beneficial impact on air quality and climate change as well as being vital to reduce road traffic deaths and injuries;”
Love 30 calls on the Minister for Transport, Eamon Ryan, and on the Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Hildegarde Naughton, to fulfil the commitment in the Stockholm Declaration by including provision for a default speed limit of 30 km/h in built-up areas.
It will then be for councils to decide which roads should have a different speed limit. A default limit does not prevent a higher limit being introduced where it is deemed necessary and safe, but the ultimate benefit of a low speed limit would be a cleaner environment and improved safety for people walking and cycling while also protecting our right to health and wellbeing. 30 km/h speed limits have long been recognised for the safety benefits they offer and in addition can assist in reducing noise and emissions and can help to make our towns and cities more pleasant places to live, work and play.
Many cities including London (20 mph), Brussels, Milan, Santander, Bilbao, Paris, Washington DC (20 mph), Boulder (Colorado, 20 mph), Wellington, have introduced widespread 30 km/h limits. Several countries are introducing default 30 km/h speed limits in all urban areas including Netherlands, Spain, and Wales (20 mph). Some locations have speed limits as low as 10 km/h. Love 30 believes that Ireland should follow this best international practice and legislate for a default 30 km/h limit in built-up areas.
Joan Swift of Love 30 Sligo said: “Ireland needs to move quickly to implement the Stockholm Declaration and introduce default 30 km/h speed limits in all built-up areas. We have fallen behind our UK and EU neighbours where 30 km/h is increasingly becoming the norm in town centres and in residential areas. The Welsh Parliament has voted for a 20-mph default urban speed limit and more than a hundred French cities have introduced default 30 km/h limits.”
Mairéad Forsythe of Love 30 Dublin said: “We need 30 km/h speed limits on our residential roads, outside our schools and in the centres of our cities, towns, and villages so that people can move about more safely and enjoy a more people-friendly space. This is more important than ever during COVID-19 restrictions when there has been a surge in the number of people moving about outdoors on foot and by bicycle”
Who are we? Love 30 is an alliance of organisations and individuals who support the concept of lower speed limits in urban areas. We are campaigning for the introduction of more 30 km/h zones in urban areas, but particularly in town centres, residential areas, and near schools and other places of public assembly. You can find more information at www.love30.ie or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Maynooth has finally seen Kildare County Council’s Transportation Department react to the Covid-19 health emergency with works on the Dublin Road, Mill Street and Laurence’s Avenue
Although the Dublin Road work s limited, Maynooth Cycling Campaign welcomes the pop-up cycle lane which has appeared on part of one side of the road. While it will not attract many more cyclists, it will give more space to pedestrians and reduce the risk of a collision between cyclists and motorised vehicles – at least when they are travelling towards Carton Park Shopping Centre.
Bollards have also appeared on Mill Street to form a pop-up footpath at the Rye Bridge on Mill Street on space which had formerly been allocated for cycling. Several cyclists thought that it was a pop-up cycle lane. They were astonished to learn that the space was to be reallocated from cyclists to pedestrians and that cyclists were expected to move out to the traffic lane and “share the road” with cars. Most other councils are improving conditions for pedestrians AND cyclists, rather than pedestrians OR cyclists. Legibility is an important aspect of road safety. Legibility means that road users can “read” where they are supposed to go – be they pedestrians, cyclists or drivers. While he changes was intended to benefit pedestrians, it is doubtful that many cyclists will swing out into the traffic lane.
When the work was announced as part of the July Stimulus, a requirement was for the work to be completed before the end of November but was only carried out in February. Thankfully Kildare’s Fire Service is more responsive to an emergency than the Transportation Dept.
Cyclist fatalities in Ireland have been increasing over the last ten years. In the Netherlands, increased cycling led to a reduction in fatalities due to their high quality infrastructure and Sustainable Safety policies.
Sustainable Safety is one of the corner stones of the Dutch road safety policies. Its ultimate goal is to make traffic so safe that everybody can get home safely. Not only fit able-bodied people or drivers in protected vehicles, but every road user – the schoolchild, the commuter, the commercial driver and the active senior, whether they walk, cycle or participate in traffic in any other way. I’ve published about Sustainable Safety before, in 2012 and in 2017, but the policy was updated in 2018. That is why I want to start this year with another look at Sustainable Safety. First, I would like to wish you all the very best for this new year! I also – as you will have noticed – updated the look of my blog.
The three editions of the Dutch Sustainable Safety policies from the 1990s, 2005/2006 and 2018 respectively.
Another year over and another year with a continuing upward trend in cyclist fatalities.
With a 3% level of cycling in Ireland, it is expected that the number of cyclists fatalities would be statistically insignificant from year to year ie it would follow a random pattern with fatalities increasing some years and decreasing other years. The number of fatalities (solid line above) confirms this pattern.
The trend line (dotted) looks at longer term patterns and show a continuing increase in cyclist fatalities. Admittedly, using a different baseline, say 1990, would show a different picture but the graph above uses a baseline of 2010 as that is the year with the minimum number of cyclist fatalities and minimum level of cycling as measured by the 2011 National Census.
From the 1970s when the Netherlands prioritised cycling and began to provide high quality infrastructure, cyclist fatalities dropped despite increased cycling. Irish local authorities have still to recognise the link between high quality infrastructure and the safety of cyclists. Despite increased cycling during the pandemic, the removal of “emergency” cycle infrastructure and opposition to reallocation of road space shows that we have quite a way to go.