Cycling campaigners in Cork have called for “sustained enforcement” to tackle parking in bike lanes.
They said the failure to enforce the law in relation to what is a “highly visible and dangerous” traffic violation effectively renders the substantial taxpayers’ investment in such cycling infrastructure useless.
They also want protective barriers installed to make bike lanes safer, especially along key cycling corridors such as South Main St, Washington St, and Alfred St.
They made the calls at the first cycling rally in Cork organised by the Cork Cycling Campaign last night.
Dozens of cyclists gathered outside City Hall ahead of a City Council meeting to demonstrate the depth of feeling on the issues.
Christopher O’Brien, 78, a racing cyclist from 1959 to 1973, said while it is getting easier to cycle around the city, parking in bike lanes is putting cyclists at risk.
“I’d like to see it enforced by the gardaí,” he said. “Motorists’ excuses like ‘I’ve only stopped for a couple seconds’ — well, that’s where the trouble starts.”
Libor Kampas, who is originally from the Czech Republic but who has lived in Cork for 13 years, cycled to the rally with his daughter, Karolina, 4, on a crossbar seat.
“She’s been on the bike every day since she was 10 months old,” he said.
“I do worry about her sometimes. You never know when you are going to get into trouble. But that’s life.
“Barriers around the cycle lanes would be handy and enforcement of the cycle lanes being free [of traffic].”
He also called for the development of longer cycle ways, linking the city to coastal locations such as Kinsale or Garrettstown.
Campaign chairman Dean Venables said there are good examples of cycling infrastructure in the city, particularly along Pope’s Quay and the Western Rd which have encouraged the take-up of cycling.
However, he said campaigners want to see protective barriers installed along cycle lanes where parking in cycle lanes is pervasive, and for the development of high-quality segregated cycle lanes wherever feasible.
“Parking in cycle lanes is a dangerous, frequent, and highly visible traffic violation, yet attracts less than 1% of all traffic fines. This needs to change,” said Mr Venables.
“Safe and usable cycle lanes would encourage many more people to cycle.
“Higher rates of cycling would reduce traffic congestion, air pollution, and parking demand in Cork.
“This would contribute towards a more livable and attractive city to the benefit of all.”
One of the event’s key organisers, Conn Donovan, said the Cork Cycling Campaign is building.
“We are a small group, but we are getting bigger every year,” he said.
“We’re growing, we’re getting more influential and hopefully we can do more work as we push on.”
Solidarity councillor Fiona Ryan has tabled a motion, due to come before council in about two weeks, calling for the installation of protective barriers where parking in cycle lanes is a persistent problem.
The development of cycling infrastructure is expected to be a key part of the National Transport Authority’s Cork Metropolitan Area Transport Study, which is due to be published for public consultation soon.