James’s Hospital and National Children’s Hospital join call for cycle network to be built

— Hospital CEOs highlight “alarming” rise in inactivity, road safety and air pollution as issues cycling can help tackle.

— News follows claim last month that Minister for Transport has given no active response to CEOs of over 100 companies to build segregated cycle network.

Two hospitals — the new National Children’s Hospital and St James’s Hospital — which will have over 8,000 employees on the one campus have called on the Minister for Transport to make progress on building the Greater Dublin Area Cycle Network.

The hospitals join over CEOs of 100 organisations who have written to the Minister and Department of Transport asking for the Greater Dublin Area Cycle Network to built, including the Dublin Chamber of Commerce, Google, Vodafone, SIPTU, Trinity College.

Last month, CyclingWorks Dublin, the group which which works for companies to write to the minister, said that there has been “no active response from Minister or Department to the pleas of these presumably influential stakeholders” — the Department of Transport also did not respond to questions from IrishCycle.com on the issue of a lack of an active response.

Once the Children’s Hospital (artist’s impression pictured) is built, the hospital campus which joins the call this week is expected to cater for over 520,000 outpatients, 84,000 day cases and 53,000 inpatients per annum. And CyclingWorks points out that the number of employees “has the potential to increase further to accommodate a new maternity hospital, as announced by Government, and additional developments related to St. James’s Hospital.”

The group added: “A comprehensive Mobility Management Plan is being implemented with the objective of developing a sustainable transport strategy for the campus. The plan is designed to foster sustainable commuting practices, cycling foremost amongst them.”

In a joint letter to Minister For Transport, the CEO of St James’s Hospital, Lorcan Birthistle, and Chief Executive, Children’s Health Ireland, Eilísh Hardiman said: “We also value the safety of our staff, and the lack of safe cycling infrastructure in Dublin is the single biggest barrier to increasing the mode share of cyclists. As acute hospitals we see the tragic consequences of cyclists sharing the same road infrastructure as cars and heavy duty vehicles.”

They said: “We would ask you, Minister, to proceed with the development of a regional and local cycle network that will provide cyclists with a safe, convenient and efficient means of commuting. Such developments would have a substantially positive impact on cycling and would greatly assist in increasing the share of commuting trips made by cyclists.”

“As leading healthcare institutions we know that the increasing level of inactivity amongst adults and young people is alarming. Regular physical activity can help protect from serious conditions such as obesity, heart disease, cancer, mental illness, diabetes and arthritis. Cycling is an ideal form of physical activity, but the lack of safe cycling infrastructure is a significant barrier to increasing the uptake of such an active means of commuting, be it for work, school or leisure purposes,” they continued.

“Likewise from a healthcare perspective, deteriorating air quality in Dublin as a result of vehicle emissions is concerning. Adults, children and young people who are immunocompromised or with respiratory ailments are of particular concern. A recent report linked poor air quality in Dublin to an increase in admissions to hospital for asthma-related illnesses and heart trouble. Safe cycling infrastructure would provide the means to reduce harmful vehicle emissions,” the pair of CEOs told Ross.

They added: “The plans as outlined in the Greater Dublin Area Cycle Network would serve to deliver the comprehensive and safe cycling infrastructure this city sorely needs. It would enable us to deliver on the sustainable transport strategy objectives for the campus and it will serve to benefit the city as a whole. We are appealing to you to ensure these plans are delivered without delay.”

I am editor of IrishCycle.com and have reported on and commented on cycling in Ireland for over a decade. My background is in journalism -- I have a BA in Journalism from DCU and HDip in Print Journalism from BCFE. I wrote about cycling for national newspapers, and then started CyclingInDublin.com for overflow stories. Later the website was re-branded to reflect a more national focus.

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