Dublin hosts Cycling Symposium

Author: Deirdre Kelly

Two years after it was originally due to take place, Dublin hosted an Immersive Symposium on 22-25 March, 2022. This event brought together a local crowd of Dublin City Councillors, local authority staff, cycling advocates, NGOs, businesses and members of the public, as well as an international Handshake delegation consisting of technical partners and experts from Amsterdam and Rome. The large, motivated crowd and rich discussions that emerged were definitely worth the wait! 

Like other Handshake Cycling Symposiums before it, the Symposium in Dublin kicked off with a cycling tour which highlighted changes in local cycling infrastructure. One benefit of the delay in hosting the event was that even more could be showcased on this tour than originally anticipated. Since COVID-19, the second phase of the Royal Canal cycle route has been completed, as well as a number of temporary installations that provide more protection for cyclists throughout the city. The cycling tour also included areas where work is yet to begin, and where the Dutch delegation’s expertise was particularly welcome.

During the opening session of the symposium, Dublin City Council’s leadership showed strong support for cycling, with the Lord Mayor of Dublin, Allison Gilliland, who emphasized our commitment to becoming a cycling city. Additionally, Chief Executive, Owen Keegan, spoke about the need to restrict road space for cars and reallocate it to cyclists.

The Dutch delegation brought a perspective of its own to the Symposium, in which they shared Amsterdam’s journey to becoming a cycling city, and reminded participants that they too had a long journey to make.  Photos were shared of what Dublin looked like in years past, when the streets saw more cyclists and fewer cars; whereas other photos showed a car-clogged Amsterdam from decades past – these two examples of progress further illustrated that change is possible.

Image by: City of Amsterdam, City of Dublin

Amsterdam’s journey to becoming a Cycling Capital was further explored in the film screening of Together We Cycle, which highlighted how the city dealt with many of the challenges faced in Dublin today.

Symposium attendees had the opportunity to join a range of sessions that targeted specific groups. City Councillors heard about Dutch methods for public consultation, in which the focus is on how a project happens, not whether it happens. Businesses heard about how cyclists spend more money than car drivers, as well as the need for more cycle parking and the idea of using a fietsvlonder temporary cycle parking platform to assess demand before installing permanent stands. Dublin City Council staff got input from the Dutch technical team on junction design, and were also encouraged to think bigger than the bicycle and focus on how cycling can improve liveability and the quality of life for people in the city.

The Symposium also included a session on cycling communication, in which the media invited participants to consider the impact of the language we use when communicating about cycling. In this session, participants were encouraged to share their thoughts on the possibility of creating a media charter for Ireland, with the goal of humanising the language used when reporting on cycling.

Attendees to the Symposium had positive feedback to give to their Dublin counterparts. Reggie Tricker, Senior Mobility Officer at ICLEI Europe, a partner in the Handshake project, commented, “We saw the progress made since the Velo-city conference [Dublin hosted the cycling conference in 2019] in expanding and protecting cycling infrastructure, as well as the extra space given to creating a vibrant outdoor city centre.” Plenty of constructive feedback was given as well, particularly in regards to the safety of cycling infrastructure, such as cycle lanes that are built to accommodate both buses and cyclists.

The four days of inspiration and insight provided by the delegation and symposium participants highlighted the momentum that is behind Dublin in its journey to becoming a Future Cycling Capital.

Check out what it is like the cycle through central Dublin in this video, recorded by Handshake partner Velo Mondial.

For some videos from the symposium, see here and here.

Image by: Dublin City Council

Image by: Reggie Tricker

Image by: Reggie Tricker

Image by: Reggie Tricker

Image by: Reggie Tricker

This project has received funding from the European Union‘s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation programme under grant agreement no 769177.

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