Cycle campaign celebrates 10 successful years

 

The Dublin Cycling Campaign celebrates its 10th anniversary this month, claiming much of the credit for a dramatic improvement in the perception of cyclists and the facilities provided to cater for them.

Its first chairman, Mr Éamon Ryan, recalled that cycling was not even seen as a mode of transport 10 years ago.

"It was regarded more as a problem than a solution and cyclists were perceived as eccentrics or as being too poor to own a car," he said.

That has changed. In a statement congratulating the campaign on its anniversary, the Dublin Transportation Office pointed out that more than 320km of cycle track and 2,300 cycle parking spaces have been provided in the greater Dublin area.

Since 1999, over €15 million has been invested in this programme and the DTO plans to complete a 350km network of cycle tracks by 2006.

The aim is to increase the use of bikes for trips of up to 6km.

When the Dublin Cycling Campaign started meeting in the Square Wheel Cycleworks in Temple Bar, the capital had only 11km of cycle tracks and no bicycle parking facilities. Now it is looking forward to the prospect of hosting the international Velo City conference.

Lobbying by the campaign paid off. One of the most important initiatives came in 1994 when Dublin's first Green Party Lord Mayor, Mr John Gormley TD, set up a commission on cycling. Its report led to cycling being recognised as a legitimate mode of transport.

To coincide with the publication of the commission's report, the DCC organised the largest mass cycle in Dublin for many years. It also brought experts from the Netherlands to show the city's traffic engineers how to design safe cycle tracks.

"The standard of cycle track is improving all the time, in part because of the feedback from our members who regularly prepare reports on cycle routes in the city for the local authorities," said Mr David Maher, the campaign's chairman.

To highlight the need for a safe environment for cyclists, the DCC has organised regular "Spin the City" events in recent years.

"It is one of our aims that all major routes in the city should have a cycle track to the highest standard by mid-decade," he added.

"Dublin is a relatively flat city with a mild climate so there's no excuse for us," Mr Ryan said. "Cycling is the only form of transport that goes door to door. It's cheap, healthy, non-polluting, very flexible and social, in that you can stop and talk to people on the street."

Ms Helena Fallon, an engineer with the DTO, said it had always considered cycling to be a key element of its transport plans.

"We have had an excellent working relationship with Dublin Cycling Campaign and wish them many more safe, fit and productive decades," she said.