Cycling Campaigners meet Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Paschal Donohoe T.D.
Dr. Mike McKillen (Chair of Cyclist.ie), Damien Ó Tuama (National Cycling Coordinator, Cyclist.ie & An Taisce) and Nuala Kelly (Dublin Cycling Campaign rep from the Dublin Central / Phibsborough area) met Minister Paschal Donohoe and his officials today. The purpose of the meeting was to press the Minister in regard to giving everyday (utility) cycling much greater priority within his portfolio.
Top of our agenda was the need for a steadier and more comprehensive implementation of the government’s National Cycle Policy Framework – NCPF. In our view, the NCPF presents a great blue-print as to how a strong cycling culture can be regenerated all around Ireland, but successful implementation requires meaningful input from Departments of Health, Environment, Justice etc. - as well as DoTTAS. The DoTTAS is planning a wider consultation with stakeholders in the autumn, after they review Local Authorities’ NCPF implementation (and incorporation of cycling policies into statutory plans to enable draw-down of EuroVelo related funds etc.). The Minister committed to consulting specifically with Cyclist.ie and DCC on this.
We stressed the need for DoTTAS to have a National Cycling Officer position which would plug into the European Cyclists’ Federation (ECF)’s Network of National Cycling Officers, thus enabling Ireland to continuously learn from its Continental counterparts. We also need a strong Cycling Officer / Cycling Planning Team established in each Local Authority so that everyday cycling considerations become part of the norm, thus building on the momentum generated by recent greenway developments.
We again stressed the need for 30kph to become the default speed limit in built-up / urban areas, thus bringing us in line with more progressive European countries. Of relevance here is that Rod King, founder of 20’s Plenty for Us in the UK, is due to speak at the RSA (Road Safety Authority)’s annual conference (this year on ‘Children and Road Safety’) in April. Cyclist.ie will be meeting Rod, and the Minister has agreed to talk to him at the conference too.
We raised the serious problem of bike theft and the estimated 20,000 bikes stolen in Dublin every year. On Dublin matters, we also discussed the importance of the Quays Cycle Route for road safety, recreation and cycle tourism, and the need to build on the success of dublinbikes.
Finally, we discussed the upcoming Road Traffic Bill 2015 and the need for those drafting it to bear in mind the huge mass differentials between a bicycle (typically less than 15kg) and Sports Utility Vehicles (1500 to 2200kg+). Cyclist.ie maintains that fines for road users (cyclists and drivers) for various misdemeanors should be proportionate to the kinetic energy of the moving bodies: SUV’s have much higher capacities to kill vulnerable road users!! The Minister asked his officials to follow up with / meet Cyclist.ie in relation to the bill and, specifically, on fines and penalties.
We wish to thank Minister Donohoe for taking the time to meet Cyclist.ie – The Irish Cycling Advocacy Network. As a cyclist and father of young (cycling) children himself, we did get the impression that he recognizes the importance of utility / transportation cycling issues and that he is committed to advancing an array of policies to improve cycling conditions both in Dublin and nationally. Watch this space as we monitor developments!
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