As printed in the Leitrim Observer 26th August 2020
Over the last few months a new group has been established in Ireland – the Rural Cycling Collective.
This Collective is made up of members of cycling campaigns/clubs/festivals from all over the country and is part of Cyclist.ie, the well established national cycling advocacy group. The Collective was set up to give a voice to people who live and cycle outside of the cities and to rebalance the debate on active travel so more of those everyday journeys by bike and on foot across rural Ireland are enabled and supported.
The Rural Cycling Collective’s first action was to produce a Vision document that encapsulates what they believe needs to happen to enable more people to cycle and walk more often.
Jo Sachs-Eldridge, organiser of Leitrim Cycling Festival, led the creation of the ‘Vision for Cycling in Rural Ireland’.
Jo is passionate about the group having a shared vision “From my experience in Wales as both a Transport Planner who specialised in walking and cycling and an active travel campaigner I felt it was hugely important for us to create this Vision so that we had a clear set of ‘asks’ and spoke with one voice.”
“It has been such a privilege to be part of such a positive, proactive group. The creation of our draft Vision for Cycling in Rural Ireland, has been a wonderful collaborative effort that has brought together those that have an intimate knowledge of every policy document related to cycling in Ireland, alongside those who have experience of cycling in rural Ireland and those who have big dreams of what we could do to make change happen.”
“The clearer we are about what we want the easier it will be for our representatives to make that happen, particularly now that there is so much more funding available for active travel.”
The Rural Cycling Collective are keen to get more people involved and for as many people as possible to have their say on the draft Vision before it is presented to the Dail in late September.
Jo added “We know that the strength of this Vision will come from the gathering of knowledge and ideas from everyone, not just those within the group but also those who have yet to get involved. That’s why we have published it as a draft so that others can help shape it before the final Vision is taken to our representatives. We want them to know that this is a truly collective vision.”
The draft Vision for Cycling in Rural Ireland has 8 priorities. It calls on Local and National Government to –
- Create an environment in our towns, villages, and rural roads where cyclists are expected and respected
- Create and map useful, connected cycle routes throughout Local Authority areas
- Implement best practice design so that routes are safe and comfortable for all ages and abilities
- Create safe cycle routes to school and car-free zones at school gates
- Lower Speed Limits to make our roads and streets safer and more accessible for everyone, and to reduce casualties
- Ensure clear and timely access to funding by improving capacity at all stages of local and national government
- Collaborate with all stakeholders including cycling and community groups at all stages of planning and design
- Provide Cycle Training for all ages especially children
‘A vision for cycling is a vision for the future’
Taken together these measures would transform active travel throughout Ireland. The co-benefits would include improvements to health, safety, congestion, air-quality, noise levels, and the public realm. More cycling will also help us to meet our climate change obligations.
Leitrim Cycling Festival invites everyone – people who cycle, people who don’t cycle, want-to-be cyclists, mums, dads, planners, councillors, Ministers and An Taoiseach – to get involved in shaping this vision and helping to make it a reality.
To find out more, add your support, share your feedback go to http://cyclist.ie/ruralvision/