Organisers estimate that 200 Cork cyclists attended a rally at Cork City Hall this evening to highlight the dangers of cars parking in cycle lanes and to call on Cork City Council to install barriers to protect bike lanes.
The rally, organised by Cork Cycling Campaign, was due to coincide with a council vote proposed by Cllr Fiona Ryan on the installation of protective barriers in problem areas including South Main Street, Washington Street, and Alfred Street.
Barriers are already in use in several protected cycle lanes in the city and were installed between vehicular traffic lanes on Washington Street last month.
“We have cycle lanes turned into car parks and we have business owners on record using them to park in,” Cllr Ryan said to the assembled cyclists.
The Solidarity Party councillor said it was a waste of taxpayers’ money to install cycle lanes and fail to adequately protect them for safe use.
“Our cycle lane network is disjointed, disconnected and not up to the European standard,” she said.
Ireland’s Transport Policy 2009-2020 created a target of 10% of all trips to be undertaken by bike by 2020. Yet the national spend on cycling infrastructure has declined sharply, with €19 million spent in 2015 and €8 million spent in 2018, according to figures from the Department of Transport.
Cork Cycling campaign has supported the Dublin-based #Allocate4Cycling campaign, which is calling for 10% of the 2019 transport budget to be spent on pedestrian and cycling infrastructure.
The expected vote by Cork City Council on Cllr Ryan’s motion, which rally-goers had planned on attending, did not go ahead due to a delay in the delivery of a report by Cork City Council Roads Directorate. The vote will now go ahead in two weeks’ time.
Rally organiser Dean Venables of Cork Cycling Campaign said the rally was a success even without the council vote and that the numbers were encouraging.
“Hopefully we’ll see good political change here,” he said.
“This matters because it’s a serious safety issue for cyclists. When a car parks in a cycle lane, it forces cyclists to merge with traffic.”
As well as proper infrastructure, there needed to be better policing of drivers parking in bike lanes by Gardaí and Traffic Wardens in the city, Mr Venables, who lives in Ballincollig, said.
“Last year there were only 120 fines handed out for parking in cycle lanes. That’s one every three days: it’s just not enough for something that’s such a visible problem.”
Rally attendee Susan Flannery, from Summerhill North, said she cycles to work each day and wants to see better protections in place for cyclists. “There’s a lack of monitoring of cars parking in cycle lanes,” she said. “They take my taxes, so they can put the proper protections in place.
Majo Rivas, who lives in Ballinlough and commutes by bike to her job in the city centre, sported a sign inspired by the popular Marie Kondo TV series that read “Cycling Sparks Joy.”
“I want to remind people that this is positive,” she said. “Cycling is freedom. I cycle almost every day, but often drivers are not aware of the risks to cyclists and they pass too close and too fast. So we just want good infrastructure.”
“This is about me being able to get back home to my family safely at the end of the day.”