Covid-19: Change Our Streets Campaign

Kerry Cycling Campaign calls on Kerry County Council and councillors to urgently ‘Change Our Streets’ by reallocating road space to people walking and cycling. We need to reduce hazards to help people maintain social or physical distancing measures during the Covid-19 emergency.

Communication has been made to all Kerry County Councillors and the Chief Executive of Kerry County Council Moira Murrell.

The outbreak of the COVID-19 virus has led to a huge increase in people cycling and walking. A growing number of countries around the world are temporarily reallocating road space from motor vehicles to people on foot and on bikes. Both to keep essential workers moving and to enable residents in lockdown to stay healthy and active while socially distancing.

“We need to ensure our county is safe for people walking or cycling to shops or work, for people exercising with 2 km of their homes and especially people with prams or wheelchairs. Cities and towns all over the world are trialing changes to roads and streets, some of which may be useful after the pandemic. We can Change Our Streets in Kerry with low-cost quick-wins.”

Keith Phelan, Kerry Cycling Campaign

Kerry Cycling Campaign has written to Kerry County Council and councillors to request the following changes:

  • Cones to widen footpaths in town/village centres or outside shops/queue areas
  • Temporary use of cones or bollards to create quietways to stop through traffic in housing estates and make roads for play/exercise
  • Repurposing of full lanes to cycle lanes
  • Temporary road pedestrianisation
  • Signs indicating improved pedestrian priority at junctions, reducing risk of transmission via crossing buttons.

“We need to put in place emergency measures to help people safely travel by foot or by bike for essential errands, to travel to work or for exercise. More people than ever are walking and cycling during this coronavirus pandemic. To Change Our Streets is to make our streets safer now, and the future. We have contacted our public representatives and KCC Chief Executive Moira Murrell to ask them to act”

Anluan Dunne, Kerry Cycling Campaign

Given recent statements by Minister for Health, Simon Harris, we know that movement restrictions and social distancing measures will remain in place until a vaccine is developed. As such, it must be easy and tolerable for people to comply. If we Change Our Streets, the environment of our cities, towns and villages will help compliance to public health measures. As Dr Mike Ryan, Executive Director of the World Health Organization’s Health Emergencies Programme, says: “Move quickly; speed trumps perfection.

Martina Callanan, board member of – the Irish Cycling Advocacy Network

Dublin City Council is implementing measures in Ranelagh, Rathmines, Stonybatter, Dorset St and Capel St by removing loading bays and parking spaces by placing orcas and bollards. It is time to see the same positive action taken in the towns and villages of Co Kerry.

Kerry Cycling Campaign call for motorists to slow down

Kerry Cycling Campaign have called for motorists to slow down and take more care following a horrific month of road deaths and injuries. With so many people out walking and cycling within 2 kilometers of their homes motorists are asked to slow down and be careful. The dramatic reduction in traffic volumes has resulted in some drivers increasing their speed – particularly in urban areas.

Anluan Dunne speaking of the Kerry Cycling Campaign said “Quite simply drivers need to slow down. We are calling on the Gardaí to step up enforcement across the county – especially in urban areas. More people are out walking and cycling and due to physical distancing they may have to step onto the road to avoid each other”

The Road Safety Authority and Gardaí are aware of the issue. Nationally the picture is grim with road deaths up 24% on last year.

Anluan continued “with no other cars to slow drivers down, and with the way our roads are designed, people feel like they have the space to speed up and take more risks. This behaviour is literally killing people. All the preparation and actions to help to flatten the Covid-19 curve is of little use if people don’t take care of each other out on the roads. Speeding drivers are putting people walking and cycling at risk of being patients in our emergency departments. ”

The call has been echoed by Professor John Crown of St Vincent’s Hospital Dublin who has called for speed limits to be lowered during the COVID-19 emergency. Nationally, the Love30 campaign is asking for 50 kmh limits to be reduced to 30 kmh in urban areas.

Globally, road crashes are the leading cause of death among young people aged 15-29, and the second leading cause of death worldwide among young people aged 5-14.

Anluan Dunne of the Kerry Cycling Campaign joined Deirdre Walsh on Radio Kerry’s Talkabout show to discuss the issues.

Lee Valley Trail extension anounced

AS work begins on the construction of the new 10km Tralee to Fenit Greenway, Kerry County Council has announced plans for the extension of an adjacent walking and cycling route along the coast of Tralee Bay which would connect with the greenway and provide a new leisure amenity for the area.

The council is proposing to extend an existing Lee Valley Trail which has been developed in recent years from Ballymullen to Ballyard and from The Basin to Cockleshell.

Plans are being developed to continue this coastal route – which forms part of the North Kerry Way – as far as Spa village. This would allow users to connect to the new greenway at the Spa at the rear of the Oyster Tavern.

Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, Brendan Griffin TD recently visited the walkway at the of end of Cockleshell Road and discussed with councillors and officials the proposal to continue the walkway to The Spa, a distance of approximately two kilometers.

Subject to funding and the agreement of local landowners, the walkway and cycleway, when completed, would allow users to travel along the coast to The Spa, cross the road in Spa village and join the Fenitgreenway to continue their journey on foot or by bicycle.

It would effectively provide a looped route to and from Tralee via the greenway and the coastal walkway/cycleway and ultimately extend to Ballyseedy wood.

Kerry County Council looks forward to the extension of the route at the earliest opportunity. Meanwhile preliminary work is underway on the new Tralee-Fenit Greenway along the route of the old railway line, following the receipt of €3m from the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport.

Kerry Cycling Campaign welcomes new overtaking law.

Kerry Cycling Campaign welcomes the introduction by Minister Shane Ross of new laws designed to improve safety for people who cycle on Irish roads which come into force today (12th of November).

The new laws will focus specifically on motorists who overtake cyclists dangerously and will result in steeper penalties for drivers than the existing laws for dangerous overtaking.

The announcement comes as a result of a long, dedicated safety campaign by Wexford man Phil Skelton, whose Staying Alive at 1.5 campaign aimed to create a specific safe overtaking distance for cyclists. While Minister Ross’ original safe overtaking distance law was ultimately rejected by the Attorney General, the new Dangerous Overtaking of a Cyclist law is a compromise.

Like all road safety legislation enforcement is key. An Garda Síochána need the means and will to enforce. Greater resources both physical and digital may be needed.

Police forces in nearby jurisdictions, such as West Midlands Police in the UK, frequently run “Close Pass” operations where police officers on bicycles target drivers who overtake them too closely.

In addition to active policing operations, we hope the new legislation will result in Gardaí being more willing and able to accept video footage from cyclists who have been overtaken dangerously. Many people who cycle, especially those who commute by bike, have started recording their journeys on helmet- or bike-mounted cameras, usually as a result of frequent near-miss incidents.

Keith Phelan, Chairperson of Kerry Cycling Campaign, says: “The new overtaking law is a small step in the right direction. We want cycling to be safe, attractive, and normal for as many people as possible. The people this law seeks to protect are your children, brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers going about their day and not just large groups of club cyclists. An Garda Síochána needs to be given the resources to enforce the rules of the road as part of reducing road danger.

“Anluan Dunne, of Kerry Cycling Campaign, says: “Improving driver behaviour is important, but it is only a small piece of the overall puzzle. We need a change in narrative from the media, from politicians and from the government to do away with commentary that pits drivers against cyclists in an adversarial way.

We are also in urgent need of improved cycling infrastructure which physically separates people on bikes from fast-moving motor traffic. Shane Ross and the Department of Transport are the only people who can provide the funding for such infrastructure. The allocation in the recent land transport budget was around 2% while the government’s own recommendation stated 10%. We are calling for more funding for cycling as a priority.”

Is Kerry ready for the Greenway economy?

Barnagh Tunnel on the Southern Trail

The recent announcement of funding of €6.5 million for two Kerry greenway projects, the Southern Trail extension to Listowel and the Tralee/Fenit Greenway, was a hugely significant victory for the many people who have been campaigning for decades for these under-utilized assets to be developed. Indeed, the planning application for the 10.47Km long Tralee/Fenit Greenway received no less than 277 submissions, the vast majority expressing strong support for the project.

Upon completion of the final stretch from Listowel to Tralee, the Southern Trail will stretch 85km from Limerick to Tralee and on to Fenit, making it the longest greenway in the country. It will link many towns in north Kerry, including Ardfert, Abbeydorney and Lixnaw, providing a welcome economic boost to these towns. The Tralee/Fenit Greenway will connect Kerry’s biggest town to the port town of Fenit, enjoying spectacular views of Tralee Bay and the Slieve Mish mountains.

The countywide significance is amplified by the other potential greenways in South Kerry, Killarney, Dingle and Castleisland. But is Kerry ready to take advantage of this fantastic new development? If we look at the existing Irish greenways in Mayo and Waterford, we can get a good insight into how best to leverage these phenomenal resources.

Train carriage turned cafe on the Waterford Greenway.

A 2011 Failte Ireland study of the Mayo Greenway estimated that it annually attracts 23,000 people from outside the area, bringing an extra €7.2million into the local economy. Aside from cycle hire and transport, the Greenway also brought significant increases in demand for food and accommodation, spreading the benefits across many sectors.

Similarly, the Waterford Greenway has given a huge boost to local economy there. A public house at Durrow reportedly took in more money in one day when the Greenway opened than it had the whole previous year. Dungarvan town, at the far end of the Greenway, actually ran out of accommodation last summer and a new hotel is currently being built there to accommodate the influx of visitors.

This public house in Durrow, Co Waterford, took in more money in one day when the Greenway opened than in the whole previous year.

All along the Waterford Greenway, both new and old businesses have been thriving: the old railway carriage turned into a café at Kilmeaden or Mount Congreve House and Gardens which has received a huge boost from the Greenway passing along its northern boundary. The Coach House is another busy expanding restaurant, with cycle hire and music venue situated in historic Famine Workhouse in Kilmacthomas right on the Greenway.

The Tralee/Fenit Greenway has many historic and cultural amenities along the route. As detailed by local archaeologist Laurence Dunne, the area the rail-line passes through has a rich history going back millennia. There are thirty seven ringforts adjacent to the route which date from early medieval times, and during the Civil War Sammy’s Hill at Kilfenora was the site of a pitched gun battle between the local IRA and Free State troops who had landed in Fenit. The grave of Mary O’Connor, the original Rose of Tralee is also situated along the route.

The tourist potential of such sites speaks for themselves, but it will require a concerted effort to promote them to fully realize this potential. Proper signage needs to be developed at either ends of the Greenway and along the route, indicating the significance of the various places. Importantly, the intersection of the existing Greenway at Rock Street in Tralee town requires considerable redesign, if only for reasons of safety.

Proper signage along the route is very important.

A key issue is accessibility: will visitors be able to park at convenient locations along the Greenway? Will local people be able to get onto the Greenway at a location close to their homes?

For the Waterford Greenway, careful consideration was given to these issues so that access points with adequate carparks are located at sites of other amenities, such as at pubs or restaurants or at towns along the route. For the Tralee/Fenit Greenway, natural points of entry would be in the Spa and Kilfenora, where such amenities already exist, but no provision was made for this in the Kerry County Council planning application.

St. Brendan’s National School, Fenit (in red) relative to the Greenway (in green).

Similarly, the two primary schools along the route – Spa and Fenit National Schools – have not been directly connected to the Greenway. In the latter case, the line passes right beside the school but at such a depth as to require a significant ramp being built. It is encouraging that, as reported in the County Manager’s planning application response, discussions are on-going with the school to facilitate this.

Farm and Greenway share a tunnel on the Waterford Greenway.

For the Spa National School, the 200 pupils will have a long trek over poor roads to get to the closest access point on the line, taking them through the busy junction in the village centre. This has so far not been addressed and will require urgent consideration for the safety of the children.

As soon as it is completed, the schoolchildren will not wait for the Council to design a proper, safe intersection and to improve the road: they will use it immediately as their daily commute. This certainly was the case of the first part of the Greenway from Tralee to Mounthawk School, which was used regularly by school children long before the Council finally opened it up.

Another important aspect that needs to be considered is connectivity, and it is remarkable that the two Greenways join at the edge of Tralee. Ideally, Greenways should offer a variety of return routes, linking up with existing infrastructure. For example, a return route from the Spa along the seafront to Blennerville would link the Greenway with the Canal walk from Tralee, adding significantly to both amenities.

Finally, local businesses should seize the opportunity to attract more custom by offering some of the simple amenities which can have a big impact on visitor experience. For example, it should not be too much to expect that businesses offer proper bicycle parking, while hotels should offer rental and repair services. These adjustments are fast being made by all businesses along the existing Greenways, and it would be encouraging to see local enterprises leading the way here.

After so many years of delay, it is time for Kerry to embrace these new developments and to ensure that the maximum benefit accrues to the region.

Kerry’s first Critical Mass

In glorious weather around 60 cyclists took to the streets of Tralee on the last Friday of June as part of the first Kerry’s inaugural Critical Mass.

Critical Mass is a mass bicycle ride that takes place on the last Friday of each month in cities around the world, with further events planned for the last Friday of each month throughout the summer.

Critical Mass

Cycling is more than transportation, it is transformation, do you want safer more vibrant streets and towns, an easy way to reduce carbon emissions all while keeping fit and healthy ?

Then get on you bike and celebrate Bike Week for a leisurely cycle around Tralee.

Meet up in the town square from 6pm for a 6.30pm departure for a leisurely cycle around town.

This event will will take place in during Bike Week and as far as we are aware this will be the first Critical Mass in Kerry.

What is Critical Mass?

Critical Mass is a mass bicycle ride that takes place on the last Friday of each month in cities around the world.

Everyone is invited!
No one is in charge!

€6.5 for Kerry Greenways

So the rumors were true it was announced today that 2 greenways in Kerry are to share €6.5m in funding under the Project Ireland 2040 plan. €3 million is being allocated for the Tralee-Fenit greenway, while €3.5 million will go towards the North Kerry project from Listowel to Kilmorna.

Minister Griffin says this funding will ensure both projects will be fully completed and as both projects are “shovel ready”, and says it will only be a matter of months before work on the projects gets underway.

Minister Confident of Funding for Kerry Greenways

After some rumours last week we just received this statement from Minister Brendan Griffin, great news for the Great Southern Trail and Tralee-Fenit Greenway.

And good to hear that the funding previously committed to the South Kerry Greenway has been reserved.

Statement by Brendan Griffin TD, Minister of State for Tourism and Sport

Thursday, May 23rd, 2019

MINISTER of State for Tourism & Sport, Brendan Griffin, is today (Thursday) assuring people that he is totally confident of a positive announcement of substantial funding for the Tralee-Fenit and Listowel-Kilmorna Greenways in the coming weeks.

Minister Griffin says that a competitive application process for greenway funding has just concluded within the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport and that both North Kerry Greenways have fared well.
He said that he is fully confident that the projects will receive the funding they need from his Department to proceed to full construction and looks forward to making the official announcement in the coming weeks.

“This is really great news for the county. The tranche of funding about to be announced is being allocated for shovel ready Greenways and we have two such projects in the county.
“I worked hard to secure a national greenway fund in Budget 2018 with Minister Shane Ross and the existence of this fund now means that both Greenways will go ahead.
“I am glad to be bringing even more funding to Kerry and these projects have the potential to be major game changers for the greater Tralee and Listowel areas.
“I look forward to working closely with Kerry County Council to ensue that the process of constructing the Greenways begins as soon as possible and I look forward to cycling on both beautiful routes before long.
“Finally, it’s important to state that a pot of funding has been reserved for projects currently going through the planning process, such as the South Kerry Greenway. I will continue to monitor developments on that project and our Department will do everything we can to assist at the appropriate time in the future.”

Magic Wands

There was a nice xmas surprise for cyclists in Tralee as flexible traffic bollards were installed to protect the cycle lanes at the north end of Denny Street.

The cycle lanes which were installed almost 2 years ago as part of the Active Travel Town project have been of little use to cyclists due to illegal parking.

In response to this Kerry County council resorted to blocking the cycle lanes with barriers, which of course also rendered them useless to cyclists.

Part of the issue was the use of the cycle lanes as an adhoc taxi rank due to a dispute regarding the re-designation of taxi locations as part of the traffic realignment in the town centre .

Now to see how long they will last !