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Cycling Budget Must Be Increased


The cycling community has lost another member to the roads. This year has seen eleven people die while cycling their bike on the road. The circumstances vary, city cycling, rural cycling, commuting, recreational cycling, day and night. This is no longer a debate about who deserves the road more, the finger pointing has to stop and a commitment from the government to an increased investment in cycling must be agreed before this number becomes twelve.

Currently less than 1% of the transport budget is spent on smarter travel – or cycling and walking. We need this to increase in order to make the roads safer and more user friendly for everybody. The Infrastructure and Capital Investment Programme for 2016-2021 was published last September, proposing that out of a €10 billion transport budget, €100 million would be spent on Smarter Travel.

Cycling Ireland membership has increased 720% in ten years – with increasingly more people enjoying cycling as a leisure activity. A similar increase has been seen with casual cyclists and commuters; the latest census demonstrated an increase of 42.8% in the number of people cycling to work between 2011 and 2016.

The transport budget needs to reflect the change in how people are travelling, and to encourage more people to choose smarter ways of moving around both urban and rural settings. A better infrastructure will lead to a further increase in people cycling, which in turn will result in fewer people commuting by car.

A budget increase would allow a role out of Cycle Right, the National Standard for Cycling, to school kids, increase the number of cycling trainer providers, and improve the competency of cyclists in general. While Cycle Right has a projected reach of 22,000 - 45,000 with the already committed €500,000 for roll out - a greater investment has the potential to revolutionise the capabilities and competencies of children cycling, as well as educating adult cyclists.

An increase would see more clever cycle lanes developed in both urban and rural environments, allowing safer travel for children and adults, as well as creating cycling hubs, allowing local economies from cycling tourism.

We know that five times more children cycled to school ten years ago. Parents don’t want children cycling on the roads because they are perceived to be too dangerous. Eleven deaths in five months is convincing them that their judgement is correct.

This year we are celebrating 200 years of the bicycle. People have enjoyed cycling for 200 years, eleven cycling enthusiasts this year lost their lives in road traffic accidents due to a variety of reasons from poor road infrastructure to poor judgement calls. Nobody is pointing fingers, but something needs to change with how people share the roads, and how people respect other road users.

Aside from a budget increase we want to see law enforcement around the minimum passing distance legislation (MPDL), a bill that Phil Skelton and a number of TDs worked hard on developing, and needs to be passed. Enforcing this legislation will not only protects the cyclist physically, it will protect them in the eyes of the law, and really makes the motorist think about who they are sharing the road with.

For too many years the discussion about motorists Vs cyclists has abounded, with somewhere along the way a bizarre development occurring where it is perceived to be a debate about the pros and cons of cycling! If a cycling advocate is asked to talk about the benefits of cycling, it is automatically accepted that there is someone present to argue against the activity. To argue that cycling is wrong, cyclists are wrong. Imagine this same conversation taking place with running, with swimming, or rowing? We need to stop talking about this like it is a debate or battle.

Next Monday a meeting takes place between Minister Shane Ross and cycling organisations including Cycling Ireland to address this issue – a meeting which we greatly welcome.

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