The cycle-friendly town is a common feature on the European continent. The likes of France and Germany, that are so rich in cycling heritage, create robust yet sustainable transport systems that complement the bicycle. But why should Ireland be any different?
The age-old argument from those that want our towns and cities to continue to be choked with traffic by vehicles that themselves choke the air we breathe, is that commuting in the winter months by bicycle in Ireland is a ludicrous idea. Yet our European compatriots have proven time and again that this notion is nonsense. Proof of this is the extraordinary take-up in winter cycling in Oslo, Norway A priority network of bike lanes was established for high-level winter maintenance, which in its first three years of operation has resulted in a 78% increase in cycling traffic during the winter months. Oslo also piloted a new subsidy scheme for studded winter tires, as an incentive to encourage new winter cyclists. The scheme was a big success, with more than 5000 people applying in less than a week. Oslo is not only substantially colder than anywhere in Ireland in winter, it also experiences more rainfall than Irish towns and cities -bar Galway!
So we know that Ireland’s towns and cities are suitable for winter cycling and that the infrastructure to ensure safe and accessible cycling in those darker months exists across the continent, but what about cycling for leisure and visiting tourists? In the coming years, the proportion of older travelers is set to increase. Over 50s spend a disproportionate amount of money on travel and health. The share of “Silver Agers” and “Best Agers” in active tourism is high and will in turn lead to a further increase in the cycling tourism, the Economic benefits of cycle tourism wide ranging and highly valuable. The technological evolution of e-bikes has increased and expanded this target group considerably. There is potential for so many of Ireland’s towns to cater for this demographic of cycling tourist, and E-bike tourism is ideally suited to Ireland’s geography.
To become a viable candidate for securing cycle-friendly town status, here are a number of tips we’ve put together to set your councils on their way.
- Promote of local mobility (community of short distances, local mobility, barrier-free city, securing local supply and local recreation, e.g., through consideration in urban land use planning) Include non-motorized traffic in planning (integrative traffic planning)
- Create a City map, bicycle city map, pedestrian city map – Overview map of bicycle and pedestrian transportation plans.
- Consider the needs of bicycle and pedestrian traffic in signal technology (“green wave”).
- Cooperate with local bicycle shops.
- Mobility education and training in schools.
- Cooperation with neighboring local authorities (implementation: e.g. working group, ongoing individual contacts).
- Bicycle-friendly retail (e.g., high-quality covered parking spaces, pick-up/delivery services of the retail trade)
These steps will set your town on its way to becoming a recognised Cycle Friendly Town. For further advice and information on how to future-proof your locality for the growth of commuter cycling and cycle tourism, contact [email protected] or [email protected]