During the lockdown period of restricted travel, one widely remarked phenomenon was the large increase countrywide in the numbers of people of all ages out walking and cycling.
A desire to retain that peace and freedom, together with the promise by the new coalition government of an annual €360 million spend on walking and cycling infrastructure has led to the formation of a new Rural Cycling Collective.
Comprising an array of groups and individuals under the umbrella of the wider national Cyclist.ie advocacy network, the group is focussed on making rural communities (towns, villages, and rural roads) cycle-friendly for all ages and abilities. It aims to rebalance the debate on active travel so that everyday journeys by bike across rural Ireland are enabled and supported.
Launching the manifesto, Joan Swift, speaking on behalf of the Rural Collective said:
“Our vision document aims to promote and celebrate everyday cycling in towns, villages and their surrounding areas. We are launching the Rural Cycling Collective to highlight the needs of areas outside of the major cities. We are campaigning for a fair distribution of transport funding to regional parts of the country to make cycling for all ages and abilities a reality. Our eight identified priorities have the potential to completely transform our communities,” she said.
The eight priorities outlines are to create an environment in our towns, villages, and rural roads where cyclists are expected and respected; create and map useful, connected cycle routes throughout Local Authority areas; implement best practice design so that routes are safe and comfortable for all ages and abilities; prioritise safe cycle routes to schools and car-free zones at school gates; lower speed limits, funding by improving capacity at all levels of local and national government, collaboration with all stakeholders - including cycling and community groups - at all stages of planning and design and to provide cycle training for all ages especially children.
Lucy Glendinning from Kilkenny Walking and Cycling Campaign said:
“We can be a voice for areas of Ireland that have not yet realised the potential of cycling for everyday activities - cycling to school for children, to work, to the post office for your pension, to shops to buy a litre of milk - or to cycle around to your neighbours for a catch-up.
“The enthusiasm for cycling has been witnessed by us all during the restrictions. The reduced traffic has been a key factor and we need to develop our towns to allow those who wish to cycle to do so safely.
“Over the last few months in Kilkenny and in towns around the county, there has been an overwhelming feeling that both children and adults love exploring their local neighbourhoods and areas on their bicycles, and that cycling needs to become an everyday part of life in Ireland again.
To find out more about this initiative, add your support or share your feedback go to https://cyclist.ie/ruralvision
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