22/10/2019 - 02:56
By Eoin English
Cycling campaigners in Cork say the city has gone from a leader to a "laggard" in the provision of cycling infrastructure.
It follows the unveiling by the Ambassador of the Netherlands, Adriaan Palm, of several bike racks in the city sponsored by three private Dutch companies, two with strong links to Leeside.
Under a partnership with the Embassy of the Netherlands, global airline giant, KLM, has sponsored a bike rack near Blackrock Castle, brewing giant, Heineken, whose brewing operations are based in the city, has sponsored a bike rack on the South Mall boardwalk, and construction firm BAM, based in Little Island but whose parent company is based in the Netherlands, has sponsored a bike rack in Fitzgerald's Park.
They were unveiled by Mr Palm during a bike tour of the city with Cork Cycling Campaign secretary, Conn Donovan, on Monday.
While there has been some criticism of the positioning of some of the racks in the public realm, and of the brewing company's involvement, campaign chairperson, Dean Venables, said the bigger point is that it's unfortunate for the city to have to go to foreign private multinationals to supply "basic public infrastructure".
He pointed to the release by Cork Chamber of its Q3 trends survey which show that 65% of businesses support the priorities delivery if cycling infrastructure as part of the Cork Metropolitan Area Transport Strategy (CMATS).
“The Chamber survey shows that businesses see delivery of cycling infrastructure as a transport priority in Cork," he said. "Unfortunately, there has been little improvement in Cork’s cycling infrastructure over the last half decade, even as traffic congestion has worsened, commute times have increased, and the city declared a climate emergency.
"Cork once was a leader in Ireland in cycling infrastructure, for instance, in rolling out counterflow cycle lanes.
"Now it is a laggard.
"In fact, the city refuses even to protect existing infrastructure - and cyclists - with low cost bollards.
"It’s high time for the council to prioritise cycling and deliver a coherent, continuous high quality cycle network that adults and their kids feel safe using. Doing so will benefit everyone in the city."
A spokesperson for Heineken dismissed the criticism of its sponsorship of a bike rack and said they were delighted to support in a small way the promotion of cycling in the home of its Irish brewing operation.
"We don't believe those criticisms are credible - we are not for a second suggesting you cycle after a few drinks and the branding is very discreet," she said.
"We are to our core a responsible and sustainable company and that is demonstrated in part through our don't drink and drive campaigns and our Heineken Zero product."
Heineken brews Heineken, Murphys, Beamish, Orchard Thieves and Coors Light under licence at its historic Lady's Well brewery in Blackpool.