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Cyclists ask Minister for rethink on policy
By Shane Foran, Irish Cycling Campaign
16 Dec 2005,

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Irish cyclists reps met the Minister for Transport Martin Cullen TD on Wednesday (14/12/05) to call for a major rethink on current policy. The ICC delegates wished to impress on the Minister the importance of promoting cycling as the ideal method for commuting short distances. "Such a move will benefit businesses and economy as congestion in urban areas can be reduced and employees can arrive on time and in a healthier physical and mental state".

According to the cyclists, there is little hard evidence that the current policy of building isolated cycle tracks does anything to promote cycling. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the Netherlands spent the equivalent of IRP600 million constructing cycle facilities but this investment failed to produce any increase in cycling levels. The cyclists also presented the Minster with widespread evidence that when used inappropriately, or constructed incompetently, cycle lanes and cycle tracks can significantly increase the risk of collisions between cars and bicycles. The Minister was given a submission detailing recorded increases in collisions associated with cycle tracks from Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Canada and the US. The ICC is calling for a halt to the use of cycle tracks as the measure of "first choice" and for remedial works to remove bad designs.

In addition, the ICC delegation, made up reps from Dublin, Cork and Galway, asked for the immediate withdrawal of the Dublin Transportation Office's (DTO) Cycle Facilities design manual which is viewed as deeply flawed and inappropriate for Irish conditions. The ICC is also calling for the removal of the DTO from its role as the primary advisor on national cycling policy.

As an alternative policy, the cyclists are calling for a focus on the enforcement of the existing rules of the road as they apply to all road users. In particular, the ICC is calling on the Government to ensure that speed enforcement efforts are concentrated in urban areas where speeding results in the greatest negative effects to society. The absence of an effective speed enforcement service has long been viewed as a key obstacle to promoting greater participation in cycling and walking in Irish towns. In 1999 an NRA survey of vehicle speeds found that in "free traffic" 99% of car drivers broke the 30mph speed limit on urban arterial roads with cars showing an average free speed of 45mph despite the 30mph limit. On residential roads, 68% of motorists were found to be speeding. Another key safety issue raised concerns HGV access to Irish towns and the need for blind spot mirrors on all HGVs.

The Minister gave the delegates reassurances on future consultation and expressed a willingness to explore best practice from other countries. The delegates also invited the Minister to partake of a guided cycle tour to explore current Irish cycling conditions at first hand.

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