EPISODE 8 – Virtual Velo-city 2019

Laura Laker interviewed Neil Fox who is campaigning for a minimum passing distance law in Ireland. His sister Donna died in a road crash.

And Carlton Reid talked to Dublin cycle campaigner Mike McKillen (who is a retired biologist not a doctor as said in the intro).

DIRECT DOWNLOAD [MP3]

TRANSCRIPT:

Laura Laker 0:00
This podcast series is sponsored by the Dutch Cycling Embassy a public private network for sustainable bicycle inclusive mobility. T learn more about the global mission of cycling for everyone, visit their website at Dutchcycling.nl and follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

Carlton Reid 0:24
Hi there. I’m Carlton Reid, and you’re listening to episode eight of Vrtual Velo-city originally recorded in June from the Velo-city conference held in Dublin. I was at the show with Laura Laker and we recorded so many interviews we were still pumping out shows for our Kickstarter backers on our journey back to the UK. As you’ll hear, we recorded a bunch of intros from Holyhead rail station after arriving there following an unbelievably flat ferry crossing the Irish Sea.

I’m Carlton Reid and welcome to episode six of the Virtual velo-city podcast. And we are now recording this if you hear a few strange noises in that Holyhead rail station. So you might hear seagulls

you heard in Dublin.

They’re not the same seagulls these are like English seagulls. Welsh, even. Welsh seagulls. And it’s no longer nearly live from the show, obviously because the show finished yesterday. But this intro was recorded in in Hollywood station in Wales on Saturday 29th of June 20 19

Laura Laker 1:37
Yeah, so for this episode, I spoke to Neil Fox whose sister Donna died in a crash while she was cycling in Dublin, quiet near the Conference Centre, in 2016. And since then he’s been campaigning for safer cycling mainly to do with a safe passing distance law in Ireland, which is still campaigning for now.

Carlton Reid 2:01
And I speak with Dublin cycle campaigner Mike McMillan, who I’ve since discovered is actually a doctor. Let me say that I didn’t say that in in the interview but a medical doctor, I believe so. I mean, I just I just saw him name come from Twitter and it’s like always doctor, okay. So that’s why he’s campaigning because you want people to be healthy.

Laura Laker 2:23
I’m here with Neil Fox, who is a local campaigner for safety on the road. Now Neil has a bit of a different story to tell because you got into campaigning after a sad incident, you lost your sister to cycling on the roads in Dublin. And then you you became a campaigner as a result. Can you just tell your your story? What happened?

Neil Fox 2:51
Yeah, sure. My sister Donna was killed nearly three years ago now. Just only a few moments away from where the conference is on. So it’s I suppose it’s kind of a little bit bittersweet this week, but it’s here. And but Donna was biking to work. She would drive parts of the way and cycle the rest. So she kind of used her bike to get from A to B, more so done. She did recreational things as well. She could charge you cyclists and but in general it was more just for normal daily life. And she was experienced cyclist and she was in a cycle lane when she was killed. So I suppose since since that happens, in terms of getting involved with cycling and campaigns, and that I felt quite passionate about not discouraging people cycling in the city. Because it was a lot of negativity, there was people saying, ‘Oh, well, you know, you’re crazy to cycle in Dublin and you’re taking your life into your own hands.’ And that sort of talk. And nobody wants to be negative about my sister was in general, and it was being seen as Oh, well. women shouldn’t be on the roads on bikes. Because, yeah, yeah, well, that was the undercurrent as in, like, it’s staying for vulnerable road users anyway. But like you, you really, they meant that to try and protect other people, it would be better not to cycle that was what I had the feeling I was getting from a lot of people, even people I would know, like family or friends were kind of saying, Oh, it’s crazy to cycle, you know, it’s too dangerous. Now we you know, and so I suppose I wanted to do something that was a bit more positive. And that was saying, Well, okay, there is dangers, but we need to address them and change them. So like cycling should be, like, completely normal part of everyday getting around. And especially in the in the city, I think, because it’s a much easier way to travel. So I I spoke at a couple of a couple of rallies at a time. And I, I don’t know, I just fell into campaigning to be honest. And I suppose more recently, I’m part of the Irish Road Victims Association. So they’ve not had a cycling angle before. So it’s a new, so I’m their cycling spokesperson. So part of my This was in the last two or three years, I’ve spoken TV or radios and done interviews about, I suppose the personal impact, but also the need for change for infrastructure. And in Ireland, and we’re trying to bring in a new law and which is it’s taken forever, like, but it was to be the minimum passing distance. And what now the minister has, the suggestion is that it would be dangerous overtaken of a cyclist and legislation because Donna was over overtaken at a junction. So it would be something that I would really believe that the chances are, she probably would be alive, had that been in place because drivers in general be much more conscious of us. And so I i do think that that’s that’s very important. But I think the other the other thing that stood out for me was to – sounds ridiculous – but to humanise cyclists is very important. And by using I suppose my own kind of tragedy situation – Donna waswas very well liked. And there was a lot of very lovely things written about her in the paper at the time she died. And it was a lot of support from all sorts of people and that. And I thought, well, we can use this for good, or we can just let it be a one week story. And so that’s kind of why I kind of kind of kept kept involved and helped me kind of put on the personal level as well. But I think that the humanising end of it is people especially in Ireland because they’re just such attention given to wearing helmets and hi-vis and all the gear. And so you’re sort of a bit dehumanising that way it sounds because you become an “it” on the bike. And you’re not really seen as a person or as a cyclist or as a “bloody cyclist” or whatever. Now, I think it’s the narrative is slightly changing. But it’s, it’s sad to think that you have to humanise a cyclist, you know, it sounds kind of crazy. But when you’re actually here the conversations that go on or even the narrative in general, you understand that there is a need to do that. And I suppose by bringing the lives of fact we say it’s like, this is somebody’s brother or sister or mother or father, and it’s a worker, it’s a college student, somebody who’s unemployed, somebody who was employed like, it’s like everybody, and all ages, because children obviously cycle as well. And I suppose that, you know, we,

The human story does touch people. And I suppose that’s what I try to I try to portray is, you know, it could happen to anybody, right, they could be injured or killed. And I suppose my, like, anybody who’s lost somebody on the road, you’re quite passionate about not wanting to happen to somebody else. And when it comes to cycling, there are things that we need to do in Ireland, and that I believe, could make a difference and be at the legislation, or an infrastructure, obviously, that infrastructure in this particular area is is quite good. So comparison to other parts of the city. And but it’s, it’s like, it’s the attitudes and behaviours of drivers that needs to be targeted, as more so done saying, Oh, they have to wear hi-vis or helmets. And I’m not particularly opposed to that. But I’m just saying that unfortunately, in Ireland for the last 10 or 15 years, that has been, the minute you mention cyclists being in an accident you will be asked, ‘oh, were they not wearing their helmets’? You know, and I suppose it would have been naive even three or four years ago, and thinking about a helmet would automatically protect you from from injury, and it doesn’t like when it’s with a collision with a car. It’s not really a protection. But, erm, so Donna was wearing sorry, helmet at the time, I think that was the shocking parts. And I heard I think it was in the court, like the helmet was smashed into pieces along the road. So it just made it very, suppose it just brings it home, like the fact that this is it put forward as like the ultimate safeguards. And you know, got some very, you know, and you know, it doesn’t get publicity when that happens. Because normally if you’re if you’re after being I don’t really like using the word victim as such, because I suppose we survived the road death this was like hasn’t it’s a tragedy in our life, but like we’re still here. And but I think that you try to do do something positive out of this. I think that’s important. Yeah.

Laura Laker 9:24
And it’s interesting what you say about about humanising it and humanising people on the road. Because there is that sort of narrative. Sometimes it’s that cyclist is somehow a different group of people. And I think maybe because of the focus on safety equipment, and a lot of people do wear it, because it I think, you know, it doesn’t feel that safe sometimes in roads. But do you do you feel like your work? To to sort of put a human face to this just do you feel like people are responding to that?

Neil Fox 9:58
Yeah, I think that I think it just brings the point home because it can be very abstract and talking about infrastructure and cycling and in general, and it can seem very out there to the average citizen, or the average politician or policy maker. So I think when you actually put a face to a story, and I think that’s important that they actually, and they get a feeling for the person. You know, I know it’s unfortunate that it’s, it’s because Donna is dead, that that’s the case. But at the same time, it’s way I suppose if you try to keep somebody’s legacy alive in some way and find a way way of doing that, but I do think it has had response because like, just people remember her. And because of things I’ve done. I don’t mean me personally, but like, it’s like, I take when somebody sometimes when somebody’s death, especially because it was here, right in the city, it can strike a chord sometimes. And it’s important, you either just leave that be or you do something whether it’s I chose to do something whether it I suppose sauce. Yeah.

Yeah. And

Laura Laker 11:06
And you talked about the sort of focus on safety equipment, which of course then puts the focus on the onus on of safety on to people cycling, and which is which is unhelpful. And so you get the chance to say, look, this, this isn’t what we need for to make safer roads, it’s not about cyclists protecting themselves, because you know, they’re not causing the danger. And is that part of the argument that you’re making?

Neil Fox 11:35
Yeah, like, you’re like, if your roads are vulnerable roads are like a cyclists or pedestrian, like you, you have much less responsibility than somebody who’s driving like a heavy vehicle, for example, or any any motorised vehicle really, and you’re not likely I know what has happened very rarely. But you’re unlikely to cause a major injury or certainly a fatality. And as somebody walking or cycling, and or if you’re driving a car, you should have responsibility. But at the same at the same time, obviously that cyclists need to you know, you need to protect yourself in terms of your own behaviour on the roads. But I think it’s very lazy to just kind of have this narrative where ‘Oh, it’s down to it’s time for the cyclist’, as you said, it’s down to the person themselves to protect themselves. And, you know, like wearing helmets, and I think it’s quite different wearing we say, if we’re driving wearing a seatbelt or in a car, and because that that’s a known thing that can actually save somebody and wearing a helmet. Today’s is not conclusive at all, even though we’re kind of we’ve always been led to believe that, you know, it is it’s the safest option. And also, I suppose, like I’m new to this, in terms of I was taught very differently. Three years ago, I would have always advocated to wear helmets, like, it’s not that I advocate not worried. And now it’s not, I suppose it’s my own experience has been that they didn’t save my sister’s life, like she died instantly. And, and I think that by saying that, it’s sometimes like a lot of mostly when people campaign after somebody dies, they’re saying, Oh, well, if only they had worn this, or if only they had done that. So I suppose it’s slightly different from my perspective, and it’s like, far, you know, what should what should be done in law, it’s not so much about the particular driver – I’m actually not angry or does nothing. Like there’s no actual animosity there or anything like that. It’s more about preventing other people from the same thing.

Laura Laker 13:44
So an element of driver education as well?

Neil Fox 13:48
Absolutely, I think so. And I don’t I don’t know exactly how much training like somebody who’s learning to drive gets in terms of …I don’t drive actually. But in terms of like, regarding cyclists on the roads, and, you know, I’ve, I’ve kind of heard not very much like, that’s what people say. And I do think that there’s, there’s a reluctance of drivers to, you know, to pay heed to cyclists in the road, because they think, ‘Oh, well, you know, they shouldn’t be on the roads.’ Yeah.

Because the road space doesn’t look like it’s designed for [cyclists] it looks like it’s designed for cars, basically.

Yeah, exactly. And there’s I suppose this a sense of entitlement as well there, you know, and we’re bigger as well, the new and but, but at the same time, like the irony of it all, is that most adults that cycle here in Dublin and the city also drive. Yeah, so it isn’t really as black and white as motorists versus cyclists. And, but, but there is that sort of, I suppose aspect put across in the in the media loss.

Yeah, yeah. So have you got? You’re working with the Road Victims Association? Is it? So what do you what do you kind of doing for them? The Irish, the Irish Road Victim’s Association.

Yeah, it was set up a few years ago by a lady who lost her son in a road death. But I suppose I’m, I’m only a part of this. I’ve been, I suppose involved with them for a while, but I’m only on the board and the last few months. And I’m their, what you call their cycling spokesperson. And I suppose that we’ve had a lot of focus in Ireland in terms of … from coming from road victims, on drink driving legislation on speed. And also at the moment on, you know, mobile phone usage – they are very important things, but there hasn’t been a huge focus from any victims organisations on cycling before, and what needs to be done. So we’re kind of I suppose it’s, it’s a new thing. And but it’s like I spoke to the Minister after recent and often he’s he he was quite a minister for transport. He was very welcoming. And he said that it’s, it’s great to actually have cycling advocacy involved in victims as well. Because it is it’s kind of new, we had a huge I, that’s the other thing, I suppose after Donna died, in September 2016. But the following year, in 2017, we had a huge increase in cycle fatalities, there was a lot of was a lot of deaths and, and so Dublin, or national know, nationally, nationally, but that’s kind of quite really kind of pushed me forward actually to get it to speak out of it because I was quite, we couldn’t figure out like, what’s the common denominator I suppose. And, and it’s hard to know what it was, I suppose my fear was, and it would remain the fact that we’ve switched increasing numbers of cyclisst, which is a good thing. But on the other side, if we don’t have if we’re not giving the proper duty of care towards them the likelihoods, like being honest, I think it’s a miracle that there aren’t more fatalities on roads, and from cycling,

Certainly cycling around Dublin at times it feels very unsafe and you’re very conscious of the large vehicles and the coaches and the buses and the lack of provision – where there are cycle lanes they’re parked in people’s like buses pulling in now and it’s I think it feels dangerous.

Yeah, yeah, it feels chaotic at best like and the problem as well as a lot of the you might be cycling along for a periods and everything is fine. And then suddenly the lane is gone. And you’re right in the middle of traffic and, and as you say, heavy vehicles. And busses like. We’re quite used to here we because we just take it as part of the norm. But just speaking to some people here over the last few days from different countries, they’re shocked at the double decker buses being so close. And because it’s even from I think when you drive you don’t you probably don’t fully understand like the winds like to you know that you can you can actually be blown nearly off your bike sometimes by certain vehicles going by and you know that like keep it not giving very much space. It’s not It’s not even that you might hit somebody, you might actually cause them to fall as well. It’s just. Yeah,

Laura Laker 18:08
Can you talk a bit about the kind of impact of the loss of your sister on your family? Obviously it’s when you lose someone suddenly such a I don’t know it’s it’s a difficult thing to kind of get across to people this road violence in a way I guess.

Neil Fox 18:25
Yeah.

It’s it’s difficult like to it’s difficult to put into words I suppose. Like it’s still like it’s nearly three years like but it’s still feels not real I suppose like for me like I suppose campaign work and us helps because it gives you a focus and sense to bring some sort of meaning out of us. And but the day Donna died, I I was to meet her the next day here not far from here actually, for lunch. And I text her in the afternoon and say what time, like a very short message. And like she was dead at that point, but I didn’t know and so it was a couple hours before the [police] came to me, they got to some of my family earlier. But

I just remember day

you just go out to your body. I think it’s the best way to describe it. Like it’s an outer body experience. Like you just kind of already listening to this news coming at you. And then just a shock, the shock is. I think, like…like my mum died. Couple years before Donna and my friends I but they weren’t. It wasn’t that they were. They weren’t easy. I don’t mean like that. But there was much more emotion it felt more normal in terms of my reaction to what but Donna death it felt it was so out there, it was so sudden as you said, and so violent like is like the thing people forget with most road that’s the injuries are the same as like a murder case or something like that. It’s not that it’s on purpose. But the injuries can be very similar so that ends and your mind goes everywhere, basically, I suppose. Yeah. And you don’t really I suppose for me the difference with order like others losses I’ve had, you don’t really get to miss the person because you’re in such shock over what happens. I think that was my experience for the first while it’s like it’s better now but it’s Yeah, it’s it’s strange. Like I think us like sometimes I still expected that she’d come back she’ll come back and she’ll say, Oh, that was all a bit of a joke or something like I know that’s not reality because but there is that who’s suddenness and I think that anyone who you know anyone who goes true as it changes you forever like and I think that the important thing is to try and do something with that rather than let it destroy it. Does something can destroy people. Yeah.

Laura Laker 20:49
And so your family kind of I guess I guess this is maybe helpful for them as well that you’re campaigning for. To have something come of this.

Neil Fox 21:02
I think we all are quite different, I suppose in the family like in terms of with different ways of dealing with grief and where I went that was no they do support it like I think that in the beginning my dad would have been very … wanting to make sure this never happened to somebody else. And, Leane my sister, my other sister. Leane was so close to Donna you know it’s it’s difficult but she has a little boy and he’s learned he’s learned to ride his bike recent enough. Do you know so it’s not like you can’t let us stop you’re doing normal things because it’s strange because like I was talking to somebody yesterday here about it if if Donna was killed and had had she been driving it was killed in a in a so called normal car crash. I probably if I was a driver I probably wouldn’t think twice about getting in the car again. What shall I do on the bike you have to us and which is wrong like but it it’s interesting. I suppose you feel more vulnerable, I suppose.

Laura Laker 22:02
Yeah, it is interesting. And it’s just a split second isn’t a split second decision now it’s a split second moment and I guess right I guess we have these moments and sort of near misses and all that was close and I don’t know I guess I guess the faster the roads are then the less catering for people on bikes, people on foot the more of these moments you get, and I don’t know it’s just I don’t want

Neil Fox 22:32
I suppose to one kind of positive I suppose is where Donna died, where she was killed, like that junction at the moment is under construction. And it’s been changed it’s part of a whole new system. But it’s actually it’s kind of ironic, but it’s actually the project has started off that site and it will move move further along the city bus it’s it’s good like it’s it’s kind of strange to see the site gone but I think the same time it’s good because like I suppose I campaigned a good bit to have that changed in some way. And it was very strange – the first time I walked out and saw like the scaffolding and you know building work starting on it’s like it was good, but it was really it was I don’t think I thought they would ever do this you know because but when you say about near misses, at the beginning of this year and I got involved with the local journalists here in Dublin. And she she did she could really go to a search actually on on the site because I asked people to contact me or email me with their stories of the actual place that Donna died like experiences they had good or negative, like they’re mostly negative, obviously the ones that came for it, but there was a lot of near misses. So we we kind of the junction was dangerous and in terms of you’d be turning and if you’re driving up going to the left on the cyclists would be going on straight and

Laura Laker 23:57
There was a cycle lane there going straight down in the left hand turning lane?

Neil Fox 24:01
Yes. So that’s, you know, it’s very difficult, but but I think most I think most cycling deaths in cities do happen at those type of junctions. So it’s I suppose it’s having this was a give way, you know, that the I think in some parts of Europe they have it’s less I don’t know It’s here. It’s quite aggressive like in terms of

Laura Laker 24:25
There’s ways of making jokes and so that you don’t have people cycling going straight. In London, where we have the cycle superhighways- now just called cycleways – the protected ones, you have a left hand lane for cars and the cycle lanes on the inside of that on the left side of that, but the left turning traffic’s on a red light while cycles are on green. And I think that’s quite often how you do it. But it seems like work here is is slow, I mean, you said there was the 1.5 metres passing distance was already on the cards when when your sister died? Yeah,

Neil Fox 25:01
Phil Scelson and two ministers now – they weren’t ministers at the time – and Regina Dougherty and Kieron Cannon had been campaigning and for safe passing distance and one metre to 1.5 metres when overtaken the cyclist. And now obviously after, kind of after Donna died, the significance of that was was kind of brought home to campaigners as well, like, does this really could save a life, you know, that it’s you know, and I think there at first it was initially when I would have I met some in the Department of Transport. And the year after, I’d say it was it was maybe six, eight months after Donna died around that period, there was a huge reluctance to even really take it seriously. And at that point, but then within, I’d say, within a few months, the thinking did change. And the minister to Shane Ross’s the Minister for transport here, he did, and he did eventually back. But the Attorney General refused, because he said it was unenforceable. And it’s to do with the Irish legal system. But I would have I would I be quite positive about the new model of dangerous overtaking of a cyclist being brought in. I do think like he has said he will bring it in. And it’s what it’s held.

Laura Laker 26:23
How do you get a sense of how long it’s going to take?

Neil Fox 26:25
Well, in March I was told to be the end of April. So we’re now what are we the end of June. But like it’s been like this has been in the pipeline for a few years to stage. So it’s not new, you know, it like it’s a new way of bringing it in. But it’s the same idea. Like it should be fast tracked, it should be there shouldn’t be a delay at this point. And like is this supposed I don’t know exactly. But my feeling on it is that there’s resistance from guardi from the police on, on bringing it in, or pushing it forward. And they need the government needs a lot of support for us to bring it in. Now they will in terms we the Road Safety Authority in Ireland did a really good ad campaign last year for the 1.5 metres and that that’s they’ve changed the rules of the road to include it as something that you should do.

Like the highway code. Yeah,

Similar so and so there is like direct positives as well. It’s just the progress seems so slow.

Laura Laker 27:31
And it’s the same with infrastructure. in Dublin, I wrote this article earlier this week in The Guardian, and it was the same complaints about the infrastructure it just takes seems to take so long.

Neil Fox 27:40
Yeah. And there’s like a lot of it actually comes down to the average person, though, as well, people objects, like if there’s a tiny bit of our garden going to be affected or if their view is going to be affected. So there’s a lot of doubts as well. But if there is political will behind us, it will come true. I think you need you need people who will champion something that’s relatively seen as kind of revolutionary, but like passing this and safe passing distance legislation is in some countries since 1973, some parts of the [United] States I think, and Australia and European countries. So you do have to think like, what is so difficult about bringing it in? Like, to me it doesn’t, I can’t understand this. And I and like even if I wasn’t coming from like having lost my sister, I would still find it difficult to understand why they can’t. So it’s not just from an emotional kind of viewpoints. It’s, it’s just quite rational.

Carlton Reid 28:35
I’m outside the conference hall with Mike McKillen of Cyclists.ie. And Mike, we were having lunch, then grabbing a quick coffee as you do in these conferences, and you meet interesting people, including yourself, Mike. And we were having a conversation there about the trucks and buses. And I think an enormous amount of delegates here, wonderful city that Dublin is, have been quite shocked at the amount of motor traffic that is allowed to be right next to valuable people, including the very important delegates at this this conference. But clearly you live here year round, and you’re going to suffer this year round. So, tell me, why there is so much motor-vehicle traffic coming through the streets of Dublin?

Mike McKillen 29:21
Well, Carlton, this country is a highly automobile-dominated country, you only have to listen to our national broadcaster, RT. In the morning, the radio is saturated with adverts for all the car marques. And secondly, we don’t have an extensive public transport system. Like we don’t have an underground, we don’t have the Metro. So people have to rely on buses and coaches and private cars. So that’s why you see this massive congestion because a lot of people don’t have alternatives. And with our housing policy, people are actually scattered in their homes, maybe 80, 100, 120 kilometres away from where they work. And they may not have a train service or bus service, so they drive.

Carlton Reid 30:09
But there’s also a lot of coaches and and big trucks. Now I thought the port tunnel was meant to take the trucks off the road. Yet we’re risking life and limb by crossing over the roads here. So where are the tracks coming from, where are the buses coming from?

Mike McKillen 30:24
Well, the truck issue is very easy. Although there is a five axle and above ban on HGVs entering Dublin City, other than under permit, they just simply apply for a permit from the city, they pay a fee. And they might have to describe their trip origin and their trip destination, but no routing is given to them. So that’s why you see a lot of them along the keys, because they’ve come in maybe from the one under the tunnel, but want to deliver to Guinness. Guinness is a major trip generator by semi-trailers. And then we just look over your shoulder, you’ll see a Guinness tanker truck out there. But they do it.

Carlton Reid 31:07
Thank you for spotting that,

Mike McKillen 31:08
us to keep it all topped up.

And then you see there’s a lot of construction, you only have to look out there to see the cranes that are on the skyline. And, you know, we need bulk carriers for all of that construction activity. So they can come in with permit.

Carlton Reid 31:23
So many of the objections when people say, well, you can’t have cargo bikes delivering this and you can’t have bikes, you’re saying, Well, yeah, we’ve got so much construction, which is a good thing because the city is expanding and and doing well. So what is the solution? How do you see as a campaigner? Or what what what is your aim? Do you have any chance of competing against the economic success that they would see that congestion is actually an indicator of?

Mike McKillen 31:53
Well, the same congestion actually comes with an economic cost. And our economic and research institute has shown what cost of congestion in Dublin is one of the most congested cities in Europe. Drivers are wasting hours, travelling into the city by commuting by private car because they have no other choice. So what do campaigners say? Well, you know, in the early decades, we would have said, we’re vehicular cyclists. And we can mix it with all of this stuff, because we’re brave guys, and mostly guys and very few women. And to this day, it’s 75% males and 25%, female of cycling into Dublin on the morning commute. But we’ve changed our view now it has to be segregated cycling infrastructure. Paint. Ain’t. Enough.

Carlton Reid 32:40
So anybody who says – and I’ve heard this a few times from Dublin City Council folks as well – we haven’t really got the space. And then you look outside. And these are all the roads I’ve seen so far in in Dublin because I’ve only come from Temple Bar through to through to hear the all four lane highways, the pavements, the sidewalks are so quite wide. There’s actually an enormous amount of space here.

Mike McKillen 33:04
Yes, but you see, the the allocation of space is always a political decision. And our local government is councillors, just like in the UK. And most of them are drivers, there are very few cycling councillors, but we’ve just had local elections last month. And I’m delighted to say we now have a lot of not just Green Party, but other parties that have cycling councillors, and they have just agreed a new inter-party framework for Dublin City and transportation. So I think we’ll start to see change.

Carlton Reid 33:41
So Mike, you’re you’re,

Unknown Speaker 33:42
you’re optimistic, you think that the future might be different for Dublin?

Mike McKillen 33:46
Well, it’s different, it will be different simply because congestion is killing the city. And although the city looks dangerous cyclists, actually were remarkably few cyclists get killed on Dublin’s streets. Now, one or two too many. But the system works up to a point. But it’s not for the faint hearted. And if we want to grow the the active travel component, we gotta go for segregation.

Carlton Reid 34:15
I’ve been surprised considering the feral conditions you have got here. I’ve been surprised by the amount of cyclists and they’re not just the strong and the brave. Lots of people out there on bikes clearly. Despite the fact there’s no infrastructure, still getting out on bikes, but the potential there is for for many more, if some brave political decisions were taken, is that right?

Mike McKillen 34:41
Indeed, and I’ll take the example of my wife, she works in the financial services centre, just across the Liffey here, in Grand Canal square. She cycled to work for one year. And then last the end of last summer, she said she would not go back to doing it again. Because the drivers have become quite aggressive. When you get congestion, you raise the aggression level in everyone, cyclists as well as drivers. So we got to get the segregation to lower the aggro level.

Carlton Reid 35:14
Are there any plans, even just being tentative plans, for Dublin to have, for instance, congestion charging, because that seems to be something that I this coming on this walking here this morning, every single car I saw and I came to about 30 was one person one car that clearly is unsustainable, despite the fact you said they might be coming from a long way away. So, congestion charging, is that even on the radar here?

Mike McKillen 35:40
It’s not. It’s talked about occasionally. But there is nothing in any Climate Action Plan to introduce congestion charging in Dublin City or any other city. But it will be forced or Europe will force it on us anyway. Because of climate action, and our transport emissions are just way too high. per capita, we emit more greenhouse gas per person than any of the other European countries. And that’s because our transportation component is so high. So congestion charging with our road pricing as one of our previous prime ministers are fair to I think that’s a better term for it. But you know, you’re up against motordom – drivers feel entitled to road space because they paid what they call road tax, but it’s actually motor tax based on their permission levels from their engines. So they feel a sense of ownership in the road and nobody else should own the road if they’re not paying that “road tax.”

Carlton Reid 36:38
So what is the solution from the councillors’

point of view, from officialdom point of view? What

are they saying they’re going to do to reduce congestion?

Mike McKillen 36:45
I have not heard anything promulgated yet.

Carlton Reid 36:51
Okay, so it’s a solution, waiting for even the questions to be asked.

Mike McKillen 36:57
Well, with our new councillors,

I think the pressure will come on, the officials will respond and a policy will evolve.

EPISODE 7 – Virtual Velo-city 2019Laura Laker 37:06
So that’s it from episode 6 [acutally 8] from Holyhead station. Thank you for tuning in.

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