Campaigning for better cycling facilities

A PUBLIC meeting about cycling took place in Butler House last week drew on the experience of the Dublin City Cycling Campaign to plot a route for a campaign for better cycling experiences in Kilkenny city/

A PUBLIC meeting about cycling took place in Butler House last week drew on the experience of the Dublin City Cycling Campaign to plot a route for a campaign for better cycling experiences in Kilkenny city/

‘Life Cycle, A Public Meeting about Cycling in Kilkenny and How to Campaign for Better Facilities in Your City’ was organised by Cllr Malcolm Noonan, a keen cyclist campaigner for better mobility in the City.

Damien O Tuama of the Dublin City Cycling Campaign spoke about their 20 years of campaigning for better facilities and the many successes that they had in improving access in Dublin. Damien has had many years experience in urban mobility both as a planning consultant and now reviewing success of the Dublin Bike Scheme as his Phd at Trinity College.

He said that he toured the city before the meeting on his fold up bike which he transported by train. His impression of the city was good and said that the Local Authority had invested well in cycle lanes but that the real work needed to be done in changing attitudes towards cycling and cyclists. Damien told the meeting that the council should invest heavily in education and awareness in schools, business and among the general public.

He also cited examples from across Europe; Copenhagen, Berlin, Amsterdam where car dependency had reduced dramatically, congestion and its associated cost to business had also reduced and health outcomes for citizens had improved. He maintained that Kilkenny had immense potential both for commuter cycling and tourism/leisure cycling by developing green networks similar to Wesport in Mayo.

There were many interesting comments and suggestions from those attending the meeting including- cycle training in schools, the need to get cycle parking at Nowlan Park GAA ground in Kilkenny, how to tackle bike theft and the need to link cycling promotion and health.

Other issues raised included the need to get the gardaí to take illegal parking on cycle tracks more seriously and developing cycling tourism opportunities.

Mayor Sean O hArgain also proposed the suitability of Kilkenny for a small scale public bike scheme. There was also discussion on the ‘failed’ one way street experiment and heated debates about the proposed new bridge Central Access Scheme. It was also proposed that if a group should emerge that it could link to a network of cycle campaign groups throughout the country under the Cyclist.ie banner and that a group should focus on fun awareness raising initiatives and work closely with schools, the Local Authority and local businesses. It was agreed that the group would meet again in May.

Mr O Tuama concluded by saying that he was really encouraged by the positivity in the room and stated that Kilkenny was a beautiful city that would benefit greatly from reduced traffic congestion and Kilkenny would be a healthier happier community for having more people cycling.