Cycling Kerry, Great Road Routes

As a fan of Jack Thurston’s Lost Lanes, alas one who has yet to cycle any of the routes, I wished someone would write a similar book with routes closer to home. So I was delighted when I learned that David Elton, Donnacha Clifford of the Kerry Cycling blog had written a book on Great Road Routes in the kingdom.


With some of Ireland’s most beautiful and untamed scenery, 400km of rugged coastline and enticingly peaceful roads, what better way to explore County Kerry than by bike? Enthusiastic cyclists Donnacha Clifford and David Elton have joined forces to write the first guide to the best cycling routes the Kingdom has to offer.


Each route description is illustrated with colour maps, photos, a gradient graph and key facts and statistics. Information is provided on the natural landmarks and historical sites you’ll see along the way. With over 2,500km of road covered, the graded routes suit all abilities.


In a county famous for its climbs, some of the country’s most spectacular ascents, summit views and descents feature, including the Conor Pass and Ballaghbeama. Take a trip through majestic mountains and along wild seashores: a cycle in Kerry will take your breath away in every sense.

You can find out more about the publication and purchase a copy at

Or head along to the official launch which takes place on Friday 7 April at 6pm at O’Mahony’s Bookshop, Tralee, Tom Daly, cyclist, educator and author of The Rás, will be the guest speaker.


Radio Kerry minimum passing distance bill

There has been a lot of media attention recently regarding the proposed bill by Fine Gael Galway East TD, Ciaran Cannon and Government Chief Whip Regina Doherty which would  see motorists forced to obey a minimum passing distance of 1.5 metres- and one metre in zones with speed limits of under 50 km per hour- when overtaking cyclists.

Radio Kerry invited the Kerry Cycling Campaign on to their Kerry Today show to give the view of cyclists to the proposed bill.



But all drivers break the lights…

How many times have you heard the phrase ‘shur all cyclist break the lights‘ ? this missive is often rolled out when anything cycle related is being discussed in the media and almost always without facts to back it up.

This was the just the case last Thursday on Radio Kerry when the question was asked if people thought that automated cameras should be deployed at junctions in Kerry in order to catch drivers who break red lights, referencing the launch of the countries first automated red light camera system that morning in Dublin.

Right on cue the first comment (from Tom in Killarney) was ‘what about all the cyclists who break the lights ?’, we contacted Radio Kerry to counter Tom’s comment and were invited to speak on the issue. In the interview we got to speak about the issue of red light violations and how rather that victimising cyclists it would be more beneficial to  question why a small number of cyclist break light and how junctions could be designed to cater for cyclists in order to avoid these infractions.

There has been very little in research into red light violations in Ireland but there was one study which we were aware of, coincidentally this was part of the pilot programme for the Red Light Camera Project, the very project that just launched in Dublin on Thursday and analysing the very same junctions, in short you could not find a better example.

As part of the pilot project the Railway Procurement Agency (RPA) studied two junctions along the Luas Red line, Blackhall Place and Con Colbert Road in 2011, these were chosen due to the high number of Road Traffic Collisions at the junctions and the risk these posed to Luas passengers. The study analysed the red light violations which took place, as well as the vehicle type, time of day, day of the week and time after the red light was displayed.

Source: Railway Procurement Agency – Red Light Camera Project


The results of the study are clear, drivers are far more likely to break red lights than cyclists,  of all the red light violations approximately 15% were committed by cyclists, with almost 85% committed by motor vehicles.

Not only are those in motor vehicles more likely to  break lights, but they are also have the potential to cause far more harm than a person on a bike, something which was also acknowledged within the report:

In considering the potential impact of red light violations an important factor is the class of vehicle. Cyclist violations are generally not comparable with those of motorised vehicle … therefore for comparison of results it is beneficial to exclude them from this part of the discussion.

So when we have far more cars than bikes on our roads, which break the lights more often and are far more lethal in the event of a collision, why is there so much public venom directed at cyclists ?

The conversation then turned to infrastructure, or the lack of in many cases when you consider cycle infrastructure, in Dublin the same amount of commuters are carried each day by bike as are carried by the Luas. The initial Luas lines cost €728m to create and is hailed as a great success, but despite having a similar capacity cycling receives a tiny amount of funding in comparison.

Of course  the Luas has yet to reach the kingdom and public transport in general throughout the county is pretty limited, which makes investment in cycling infrastructure even more impactful. According to the latest CSO figures almost as many people in Killarney get to work or school by bike as get there by use of public transport, in Tralee four times as many people commute by bike compared to public transport while on a county level approximately a  third more Kerry people use bicycles compared to buses and trains to work or education.

Source: Central Statistics Office – Census (2011)


While these statistics may seem to paint a positive picture for cycling in Kerry they may have more to do with the lack of public transport than anything else, that said at approximately 4% Tralee has one of the highest rates of cycle commuters in the country, but country wide the rate is just 1.5%.

The government has set an objective (in the National Cycle Policy Framework) that by 2020 10% of all journeys will be made by bike, so how do we in Kerry get from 1.5% to 20% within the next 5 years ? One thing we can be sure of is that the culture of victimisation and targeting of cyclists with fines for not paying heed to substandard infrastructure is not going to get us there, but traffic lights could be a good place to begin…

  • Traffic Light that work for cyclsits
    There are a number of traffic lights in the county which do not work even on a basic level for cyclists, for example the lights right outside Radio Kerry will not turn green for cyclist, which means that cyclist who stop at a red light at this junction have to wait for a car to join them before the lights turn green !
  • Advance Stop Line
    One reason cyclists have been know to start off just before a green signal is in order to get a head start on cars and trucks in order to ensure their safety. Advance Stop Line (ASL’s) allow cyclist to take up position ahead of cars which in turn provide safety as cyclists are more visible to motorists. There are only a few ASL’s in Kerry.
  • Left turn at a red light
    Some countries permit cyclists make a left turn at a red light (but more often in left hand drive countries where it is of course right turn at a red light) provided the road is clear.
  • Straight on red when there is no road joining to the left
    Similar to Left turn on red but allowing a cyclist to proceed with caution provided the road is clear when there is no road junction to the left.
  • Bicycle traffic lights
    We are not aware of any of these light in Kerry
  • Headstart for cyclists
    When bicycle traffic lights are in use these can be set to turn green a few second before the main lights which allow cyclist head start on cars and trucks in order to ensure their safety.

Call for infrastructure overhaul for Kerry cyclists – Radio Kerry

Pushing off…


After a lot of talk we finally got a website together.

So what are the issues that face cyclists in the kingdom, what actions would you like prioritised or do you have an idea that could make Kerry better for people on bikes, please join the discussion.

You can also keep up-to-date with the Kerry Cycling Campaign…

… on twitter @kerrycyclingcam

… and Facebook /kerrycyclingcampaign