22 September 2019
By Bryan Smyth
The Green Party has said Cork should aim to be the electric bike capital of Europe in 10 years
The party will propose a 15% increase in Local Property Tax, ring fenced in a two-to-one ratio between what it says are strategic cycle infrastructure for the city and capital investment, including pedestrian infrastructure, in local areas.
The party says it will call for over €1.5m this year to be ring-fenced for commuter cycle infrastructure, including a cycle route between Ballincollig and the city centre, and the city centre to Little Island, connecting with Glanmire. The party will call for €150,000 to be provided as a capital budget for each of the five new Local Area Committees, including €100,000 in each ring-fenced for pedestrian facilities.
At the Green Party’s Think In in the Metropole Hotel on Saturday local councillors, along with Green Party TDs Eamon Ryan and Catherine Martin and Green MEP Grace O’Sullivan, took a cycling tour of the north side of the city utilising electric bikes. City View Wheels (Blarney Street), who provided the e-bikes for the afternoon, is now the largest seller of electric bikes in the country.
Green Party Councillor, and representative for the Cork North Central constituency, Oliver Moran said electric bicycles could ‘revolutionise’ commuting in the city:
“Earlier this year I made a decision not to replace our family’s 10 year old Clio with a new electric car. We thought long and hard in our household, but decided against it. My wife is a daily public transport user, I had started cycling more to work, and we didn’t want to be passing an expensive car every day thinking we weren’t getting value for money. A few people I know have electric bikes. At least one has sold his car for one. Others have kept their old cars but use their e-bikes for their daily commutes.”
“A lot of people think the weather is going to be the biggest problem cycling to work in Cork,” Councillor Moran said. “Actually, it’s not an issue at all. I keep one of those coats that wrap away into a bag on hand, and I can honestly say I’ve only used it a handful of times over the year.”
“For me, the challenge is Summer Hill. I live at the top of Montenotte, and it’s great going down hill but coming back up is a different story! It’s doable, but slow going. You get home and you need to change your shirt for sure. I couldn’t believe the electric bike – I wasn’t even trying and I was doing 20km/h up Summer Hill like it was a casual ride on the flat.”
“There’s still a lot of challenges for cycling in Cork, safety being the number one issue, there is a huge need for segregated cycle infrastructure,” the Green Party Councillor for Cork City North East said. Earlier this month Councillor Moran’s party colleague Cllr. Dan Boyle discovered that Cork City Council does not have a separate expenditure code for cycling infrastructure, meaning that any funding for maintenance of cycling comes from the budget for general road fixing expense.
“We should aim big in that respect. We should be aiming for strategic commuter routes, fully segregated linking areas like Ballincollig to the city, and the city to Little Island – with a spur to Glanmire. Linking where people live with where they work using dedicated segregated cycle routes.”
“The other factor is driver behaviour: It’s getting better, people are passing more safely. That’s down to motorists being more familiar with cyclists on the roads. I know myself that passing a cyclist – it’s not that it’s hard, but it’s a particular skill that motorists need practice on.”
“An electric bike is now definitely on the horizon for me. It would be easier if it was fully covered under the bike to work scheme, or if there were grants for them like there are for electric cars, but compared to a car it works out at only €50 a month over five years, even for a high-end model. My poor old Clio – which I still love, by the way – costs two or three times that at least just by sitting outside the door, and that’s not counting petrol, parking, repairs. So it’s no contest for the daily run from what I see.”