Cork “lagging behind” in cycling infrastructure

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“Cork was really ahead of the game in terms of cycling infrastructure,” says Dr Dean Venables, president of the Cork Cycling Campaign, recalling the introduction of separate backwashing cycle lanes in the city ago. is about five years old.

These “have made a huge difference,” he says, “but since then there have been very few and the city council seems to turn a blind eye to the continued and persistent abuse of cycle lanes. “

Venables, a UCC-based atmospheric chemist, believes Cork is now lagging behind other Irish cities in terms of cycling infrastructure. There aren’t enough places to lock bicycles and he considers parking vehicles on bike lanes to be a problem. This led to just 241 fines issued in the first 10 months of last year, and Venables believes enforcement is a problem.

“We argue that when a person parks on a cycle path, not only is it a loss of income for the city, but it is also an act that endangers vulnerable road users,” he says. .

A recent survey by the Cycling Group found that less than 5% of cyclists believe cycling infrastructure in Cork is suitable for their purpose, with almost 75% of respondents citing safety concerns as the biggest obstacle to regular cycling .

Despite these problems, Venables is encouraged by the growing number of cyclists in the city, and elsewhere, in recent years.

Cycling is featured in the election manifestos, but the campaign believes that there has been a lack of serious political dialogue about it on the campaign trail, as it is not seen as a way to garner votes.

Apolitical

“We are an apolitical group. We want all political parties to engage with us on this, ”Venables said. “But it hasn’t really been highlighted.”

While parties may not say much about cycling, South Central Cork Green Party candidate Cllr Lorna Bogue says voters are being exercised about it. Emails, calls and Twitter messages come in every day asking questions about related issues, she says.

“It’s getting harder and harder to believe that this government really cares about cycling, or anywhere outside of Dublin,” she said.

Bogue says that a key part of tackling the climate change crisis is getting people to ride bikes or use public transport instead of cars.

“How can we expect people to make this change if they can’t be sure to get to work on time, or if they feel like they’re taking charge of their lives by just riding a bike? on the road ? ” she asks.

While the perception in Cork is that things are better in Dublin, cyclists in the capital continue to cite problems with poor infrastructure, limited funding and regular hostility from motorists.

The number of cyclists in Dublin city center had increased – from 5,000 people per day in 2006 to 12,447 in 2017 – but after more than a decade of annual increases in cycling, the numbers fell in 2018, until ‘at 12 227.

While this is more of a plateau than a fall, and with last year’s figures not yet available, it remains a source of concern for Dublin City Council, which wants to double the number of cyclists by 2030.

Only 1 to 2 percent of the transportation ministry’s capital spending is on cycling, and cycling advocates say this needs to increase to 10 percent – a level promised by some political parties in their manifestos.

Safe and separate

The Dublin Commuter Coalition has published its own manifesto, which puts the development of the Liffey cycle route, planned since 2011, at its center. The group also advocates for sustainable transport nationwide and insists that all new road projects “must include the provision of safe, separate and continuous walking and cycling infrastructure“.

Green Party cycling spokesperson Patrick Costello, who is running for office in south-central Dublin, said cycling must become an attractive option for people of any age or ability.

“Dublin is a flat city, we are drier than the Netherlands, hotter than Denmark, there is no reason why we should not have the same number of cyclists, apart from the lack of infrastructure decent. “

While greenways have seen great success in rural areas, particularly in Mayo and Waterford, Costello says rural towns also need cycling infrastructure.

“Improving and providing city-village links and nearby greenways can help both improve existing infrastructure and create new infrastructure. “

A prominent cycling advocate recently pledged his vote to “anyone who can prevent people from using the Rathgar Road cycle path as a left turn filter”.

Another activist replied that it would only take one bollard to force motorists to take this turn legally. One terminal, one voice, that seems like a fair enough chord.


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