Freewheelin' Greens promote cycling
The Green Party today rolled out the details of its cycling policy for Dublin city¿ literally.
In the first event of its kind, the party held a rolling press conference for journalists and photographers which took place around the city centre this afternoon.
The Minister for Energy Eamon Ryan, Ciaran Cuffe TD, Senator Deirdre de Búrca and a number of its councillors and candidates took part in the cycling tour involving over 20 cyclists that showed the best and the worst aspects of the capital city when it comes to two wheels.
The tour began at Leinster House and continued through Merrion Square and Westland Row, crossed Pearse Street, before going through Grand Canal Dock and returning to Kildare Street via the south Quays and College Green.
In the course of the hour-long tour, Mr Ryan and Mr Cuffe took `pit-stops' at relevant streets and junctions to point out good bicycle lanes (along the quays); poor road design which poses dangers to pedestrians and cyclists (Pearse Street); cyclist-friendly areas (Grand Canal dock); and good use of bicycle lanes (along the quays).
The cycling store, Cycleways, provided bicycles, high-visibility jackets and bicycle clips for participants without bikes.
Mr Ryan said that over the next six months a series of changes in policy will bring cyclists back into Dublin in their tens of thousands.
He said that a new 30 kilometre per hour speed limit would come into operation for the entire city, which will make cycling much safer.
He also said that the new free bike scheme, based on the successful French Velib scheme, would also be up and running by the end of the summer. Stands for the 400 bicycles (which can be rented out using a credit card or smart card) are currently being constructed throughout the city centre.
"There will also be a whole range of new cycle measures to break up the one-way city system that has been anathema to pedestrians and cyclists alike."
"There will also be an end to the one-way system for cyclists in Pearse Street, St Stephen¿s Green and Westmoreland Street. One way gyratory roads do not work," said Mr Ryan.
The cyclecade also stopped outside the Department of Finance in Merrion Square where Mr Cuffe said that the cycle to work incentive introduced in the Budget has already been a huge success. The scheme offers a tax incentive for purchasing a bicycle to cycle to work. The scheme is administered by the employer.
While no official figures were yet available, he said that there had been 25,000 visits to bikescheme.ie, which the party had set up in January.
He said that a large number of companies and agencies had already signed up, including An Garda Síochána; Google; Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council; An Post; Coca Cola; ebay; Grant Thornton and The Irish Times.
Mr Ryan also talked about the need to reclaim College Green from cars as a civic space for pedestrians and cyclists. He said that there should be boulevards on either side of the Liffey where vehicle-access will be restricted as well as one on a North-South axis.
Later, Mr Cuffe said that while he opposed the deal between Dublin City Council and JC Decaux (where free advertising sites were exchanged for the 'Velib' scheme), he believed that the city bike scheme will be a fantastic success.
"There are hundreds of bikes and they will be available to residents of Dublin for a €40 annual charge. They will be free for up to 30 minutes. This will be a great addition to Dublin," he said.