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Cyclist.ie names Professor Donal O’Shea as honorary president; joins forces with Cycling Ireland

IMAGE: Prof Donal O Shea

Cyclist.ie, an umbrella group for most but not all cycling campaign groups in Ireland, has forged two separate alliances — yesterday evening obesity expert Professor Donal O’Shea was announced as honorary president of Cyclist.ie, while separately late last week Cyclist.ie joined lobbeying forces with Cycling Ireland, the cycling sports body of Ireland.

On accepting the new role, Prof O’Shea said: “I am very pleased to take on a role as honorary president with Cyclist.ie – The Irish Cycling Advocacy Network. The association promotes everyday cycling activity – and that’s the type of physical activity that makes a real difference at a population level over time. We have seen the increase in triathlons and weekend distance cycles, but Cyclist.ie is really trying to encourage day to day cycling – to school, work or just down to the shops. That’s an important goal for making positive changes to our population health.”

Colm Ryder, chairperson of Cyclist.ie, said “I am pleased that Prof Donal O Shea, the renowned endocrinologist and diabetes specialist, who is a prominent campaigner for investment in active lifestyles, has agreed to become our Honorary President. Prof O Shea recognises the important roles that advocacy groups such as Cyclist.ie can play in pushing for a new dynamic in public health spending, and in the recognition that promotion of daily physical activity can play in improving overall population health.”

Cyclist.ie points out that Census 2011 revealed that only 6,252 (1.3%) Primary Level children cycled to school and said many more would “if only our roads were less cycling-hostile”.

Dr Mike McKillen, retired academic biochemist and spokesperson for Cyclist.ie, said: “Some 26% of Irish 9-year olds are already overweight or obese and [I am] concerned at the markedly sedentary lifestyles of too many of our school children, where the school run by car is now the norm. Children are far too often lifted and laid for socialising and leisure trips in the family car as well”.

Meanwhile, last week, Cycling Ireland and Cyclist.ie said they were coming together to form “a strategic partnership to promote and advocate for the development of cycling on the island of Ireland.”

A joint statment said: “Cycling Ireland is the national governing body for the sport of cycling in Ireland, with an aim of promoting cycling as an accessible and enjoyable pursuit, and Cyclist.ie is the umbrella network for the majority of cycle advocacy groups in Ireland, with a vision of cycling becoming normal part of transport and everyday life in Ireland. The alignment between the two should strengthen the message for cycling in Ireland, and help increase the voice of cycling across the island of Ireland.”

Cycling Ireland CEO Geoff Liffey (pictured left in main image above) said “Cyclist.ie already do great work with promoting cycling for transportation, utility and leisure in Ireland. They played a big part in the National Cycle Policy Framework, and as a member of the European Cyclist’s Federation they are on the pulse of what is happening in other cities in Europe. We are excited to work with Cyclist.ie on working to improve the cycling culture in Ireland. We have almost 30,000 Cycling Ireland members; many of these people are also commuters so the aims and goals of Cyclist.ie also concern our members. This alignment should strengthen our presence as cyclists, as together we can speak louder with a single voice representing cycling in Ireland.”

Colm Ryder (pictured right in main image above), chairperson of Cyclist.ie said: “This strategic union between Cycling Ireland and Cyclist.ie will add a new dimension to lobbying and advocating for cycling development in Ireland, and in harnessing the energy of Cycling Ireland members to push for local recognition of cyclists within the transport infrastructure, and improving conditions for cycling generally. It is an important time in the context of climate change and public health, and the need for society to make bold decisions in favour of sustainable transport and active travel. The different strengths of both organisations will help to make the cycling message stronger and encourage these positive decisions.”

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