A national campaign to encourage local councillors to endorse a ‘Vision for Cycling in Rural Ireland’ began last week. The campaign was inspired by the possibilities for cycling seen during recent lockdowns and was launched in September 2020 by Minister for State, Malcolm Noonan. Information leaflets were packed in Clonakilty and posted to every rural local councillor in Ireland. The leaflet was developed between Cyclist.ie groups from all over Ireland and highlights the eight priorities of the Rural Vision, which includes safe cycle routes to schools and the creation of an environment where cyclists are expected and respected. It also includes suggested ways councillors can help make them a reality.
Allison Roberts of the Clonakilty Bicycle Festival said: “Safety and accessibility is our goal. Active travel is receiving unprecedented funding and staffing now and, if the funding is spent effectively, it will transform peoples’ experience of rural mobility. The aim must be to ensure that in rural, as well as in urban Ireland, cycling for all ages and abilities can become a reality.”
Ruth Bullough of CycleSense Skibbereen added, “We know our councillors are concerned about the same things that matter to us – road safety, rural transport options, energy use, physical and mental health. What we are proposing will impact positively on all of those and more. Our ‘Vision’ recognises the need to move to a more strategic approach to rural cycle planning and design. It also recognises the need to change the social, as well as the physical environment on our roads – so that our public spaces are safer for everyone.”
Michael O’Sullivan of Kinsale Loves Bikes also stressed the importance of community and stakeholder engagement: “Local authorities and councillors should see us as partners and allies as they consider plans for cycle routes. Our expertise and hands-on experience of cycling in rural communities will be invaluable in considering what makes a safe route for cyclists of all ages and abilities.”
If anyone would like to help with this campaign by reaching out to councillors, or if any councillors would like to give their support or thoughts on the leaflet please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.