The Bicycle is an Amazing Tool for Change

Dublin Cycling Campaign was delighted to elect Kevin Baker as Chairperson at our AGM in September of this year. Kevin has been involved in the infrastructure group and led the campaign’s response to the Fitzwilliam Cycle Route and the BusConnects Core Bus Corridors. He was also a founding member of the #StreetsAreForPeople campaign.

The following text is based on the speech he gave at the AGM. Kevin sets out some of his motivations and ambitions for the campaign during his term as chairperson.

I joined the Dublin Cycling Campaign two years ago out of personal frustration. I was frustrated with the close passes and the lack of safe cycling infrastructure. Plans by the OPW, a State body, to block a planned cycle route across the road from my house tipped me over the edge. Enough was enough. I wanted to feel safer while cycling in Dublin.

We all know the bicycle as a tool for transport and leisure. Now, two years later, as I’m elected chairperson, I’ve come to realise that the bicycle is an amazing tool capable of tackling a huge number of problems in Irish society.

The bicycle can play a role in making Dublin a more liveable and more sustainable city. Congestion is stealing hours from many people’s lives and reducing their quality of life. The bicycle is a congestion-buster. It is space efficient and reliable. When we design our streets for people who walk and cycle, we can also create inviting public spaces for everyone to enjoy.

I’m proud that Dublin Cycling Campaign is co-organising the #StreetsAreForPeople campaign with the Irish Pedestrian Network and Dublin Commuter Coalition. This campaign is doing a great job of demonstrating how our city streets could be more people-focused.

The bicycle is a great tool for improving physical and mental health. Not only does it reduce noise and air pollution, it is also tackling the physical inactivity crisis in Ireland. Cycling is a great way for people to fit moderate exercise into their busy schedules.

While riding my bike in Dublin I’ve had pleasant and unique social interactions with complete strangers while waiting at lights along the north quays. Cycling is a social activity.

Currently, cycling in Dublin only provides freedom and independence to some. Too many people are prevented from cycling because of the hostile conditions on our roads and streets.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

In the Netherlands, for example, parents feel comfortable to let their teenagers cycle independently. It can be the same in Dublin if we design our streets with everyone in mind.

Dangerous roads are not the only barrier to cycling. The research from the Women on Wheels group and from the Green Schools #andshecycles campaign show we have many barriers to tackle to ensure everyone has equal freedom and safety when using our streets.

Cycling can be a revolutionary tool to fight climate change. Transport emissions in Ireland are still rising. Cycling, particularly when combined with public transport, can reduce unsustainable car travel in Dublin.

Enabling and promoting cycling is a public good. The bicycle is an amazing tool that tackles so many problems it’s hard to list them all.

Tipping Point

Dublin Cycling Campaign has a huge opportunity to make positive change in the coming months and years. I feel we’re close to a tipping point. I’ve always loved the Margaret Mead quote “never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

Fundamentally our campaign is a campaign of ideas.

We believe cycling can and should be enjoyed by people of all ages and abilities.

We believe that by designing public spaces with the bicycle in mind we can build more attractive cities that people want to live in - liveable cities.

We believe we can use the bicycle to tackle problems in society such as congestion, physical inactivity, social isolation and climate change.

The campaign can’t build a safe cycle network in Dublin alone. We need allies. We need to convince the councils and government to believe what we believe. Only then will state agencies change their policies, budgets and practices to actively encourage people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds to cycle. Only then will we realise the full societal benefits of cycling.

We will spread our ideas by speaking to people, consulting with state agencies, conducting research, holding events, or through direct-action campaigns.

If you want to help us spread our ideas and use the bicycle as an amazing tool to improve people’s lives then I hope you’ll join us in our mission.

Dublin Cycling Campaign is an entirely voluntary charity that has been promoting cycling and advocating for people who cycle (and those who would like to be able to cycle) in Dublin for over 25 years. If you want to help us achieve our mission then please become a member or get your company to sign up for business and organisation membership.

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Saturday, November 30, 2019

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