Friday 16 May 2008

Dempsey expects 'vibrant culture of cycling' by 2020

NEW RESEARCH carried out on behalf of the Department of Transport has indicated that 10 per cent of all journeys here will be undertaken by bicycle by 2020.

Minister for Transport Noel Dempsey has reported that international cycling consultants, hired by his department as part of a national cycling policy study, have outlined the “prospect of a vibrant culture of cycling” in Ireland within the next 12 years.

“In 2006, the modal share enjoyed by cycling stood at just 2 per cent. Increasing the modal share to just 10 per cent would move as many people on to bikes as the public transport element of Transport 21 could accommodate,” said Mr Dempsey, who also encouraged cyclists to be as vocal as the “well-organised motoring lobby”.

Mr Dempsey was speaking at the annual lecture of the Dublin Cycling Campaign in Trinity College last night and said he hoped to be able to formulate a national cycling policy later in the year.

In late February, public consultation on the issue of sustainable travel and transport was initiated.

The Minister said more than 400 responses had been submitted, with a substantial number of these coming not only from cycling groups but from members of the public who strongly supported the promotion of cycling.

The Governments action plan on sustainable travel and transport “that will emerge later this year, will include support for, and promotion of, cycling as one of its key commitments”, he added.

Mr Dempsey also said an environmentally friendly workplace travel initiative for staff at his department would be rolled out for all Government departments.

Meanwhile, before last night’s lecture, Dr John Parkin of the school of the built environment and engineering at the University of Bolton, told The Irish Times that a “truly permeable network” for cycle traffic needed to be created in Irish and British cities.

This would encourage bicycle use and would help people to steer around urban areas quickly and safely.

Mr Parkin said good value-for-money measures to do so would include: an exemption for cyclists from turn left/right restrictions; allowing a cycle contra-flow on one-way streets; converting bridges for both pedestrian and cycle use; the erection of visibly clear route signs for cyclists and the creation of off-highway shortcuts.

The former civil engineer also suggested that strong policies needed to be formulated to support existing one-car households – “who may see the bike as the equivalent of the second car” – to discourage the need to purchase another vehicle.

Previously, there was a perception that the bicycle was the poor man’s mode of transport, Mr Parkin added, but now in England and Wales, the socio-economic class with the higher prevalence of cycling was the higher professional group.

Irish Times

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