Kerry Cycling Campaign and Cyclist.ie renew calls on the Irish government and Kerry County Council to urgently follow the lead of other European governments to allocate more space to active travel measures. These measures include allocating more space for active travel and controlling vehicle speed by introducing 30 km/hr speed limits in built up areas .
Speaking on behalf of Kerry Cycling Campaign, Anluan Dunne said: “we have written to KCC Chief Executive, Moira Murrell and to all elected representatives to request that space on our county’s streets be made for people who walk and cycle. A once in a lifetime opportunity exists to make our towns nicer to live and work in by reducing the number of cars and making it easier to walk and cycle. All at minimal cost to the Council and with really positive outcomes for people and businesses alike”
Recent research from Transport for London showed that people who cycle spend on average 40% more in their local shops than motorists. They also visit local shops more frequently and visit more than one shop in a single trip than motorists.
Keith Phelan of Kerry Cycling Campaign said: “cycling is part of the solution to the major economic difficulties that now face our local shops and businesses. We want to encourage people back to our town centres to have a coffee, to shop and buy their groceries. We don’t want soulless, hollowed out towns akin to out of town shopping centres. Vibrant, family friendly streets which are a destination in their own right is the goal. Decades of car-centric policies have failed our towns. There were a large number of shop closures pre Covid-19 which proves the old way was not working”
On Saturday 9 May, the UK transport secretary Grant Shapps announced a national plan to support ‘active transport’ (walking and cycling) during and after the Covid-19 restrictions. The Transport Secretary’s action follows similar action by European governments and the release on 8 May of WHO guidance for local authorities – Strengthening Preparedness for COVID-19 in Cities and Urban Settings – in which it recommends the “promotion of safe active mobility (e.g. walking and cycling)”.
As a consequence of the Covid 19 shut-down, recent weeks have seen a complete reversal of numbers driving versus numbers walking and cycling. However, from Monday, May 18th business will begin to open on a phased basis and traffic will increase.
Dublin City Council is, to date, the only Irish local authority implementing substantial traffic measures to improve safety for people cycling and walking during the pandemic. Kerry Cycling Campaign cautiously welcome the words of Shane Ross, Minster for Transport, Tourism and Sport in the Dáil in the past week, when he stated that the National Transport Authority (NTA) would work with local authorities in Cork, Limerick, Galway and Waterford to develop a Covid mobility framework.
It is with some disappointment that large regional towns such as Tralee, Killarney, Ennis, Sligo and Letterkenny were not referred to by Minister Ross.
Speaking on behalf of Cyclist.ie and its 20 plus member organisations across Ireland, National Cycling Coordinator, Dr. Damien Ó Tuama, said that “Initially the required segregated space can be secured quickly and cheaply by reallocating road space using a combination of wands, bollards, orcas and planters”. Mr O’Tuama stated that “In addition other measures were needed and cyclist.ie would be happy to engage with government to discuss these. However, the immediate priorities are more space and less speed.”
Kerry Cycling Campaign’s Anluan Dunne spoke to Radio Kerry about how public spaces in towns and villages need to be re-imagined in the wake of the pandemic.