Dublin City is joining Rome and Lisbon in an EU-funded project that invites children to help reimagine their streets and design cycle routes.
Children in the three cities are being given access to tools to help them envision a different streetscape under a project called Bicycle Heroes: Youth Voices for Active Mobility.
A Netherlands-based cycling NGO, BYCS, has piloted the programme for the last five years in Amsterdam, The Hague, and combined in Arnhem and Nijmegen.
In Dublin, Bicycle Heroes is being organised by the council, Trinity College Dublin, and BYCS bicycle mayor for Dublin, Cllr Donna Cooney. The project is supported by the EU’s European Institute of Innovation and Technology.
The programme in Dublin will focus on children from 10 to 15 years old. The council said in a press release that the programme will “facilitate children from DEIS schools to create solutions to cycling barriers on their school route and to Trinity College”.
Niamh Ní Cholmain, schools mobility outreach officer at Dublin City Council, said: “Bicycle Heroes compliments Dublin City Councils School Mobility Programme which has seen the installation of almost 70 School Zones in the past 18 months.”
“School Zones demarcate an area of public space around school entrances where the dropping off or collecting of children using cars is discouraged. It also ties in with our Safe Routes to School Project which looks beyond the school gate and aims to increase the number of students who walk or cycle to school by providing safe walking and cycling routes to school,” said Ní Cholmain.
She added: “It is essential that children influence the design of these schemes – they are the ones who are most affected and they are the voice of the future.”
Cllr Donna Cooney, project manager of the Dublin Bicycle Heroes Project, said, “I’m so excited about coordinating the first BYCS Bicycle Heroes project in Dublin with partners Dublin City Council and Trinity College. We will be working with groups of children aged 10 to 15 years, to give them the tools to enable them to reimagine their city space to meet their needs.”
She added: “Children will be empowered by designing, exhibiting and presenting to transport engineers, planners and decision-makers to influence the design of Dublin City spaces for their own future active transport needs.”
Cllr Cooney told IrishCycle.com that the programme would be first rolled out to schools involved with the Trinity Access Programmes in the Dublin City Council area.
After a workshop takes place in TCD next week, the programme will be working with two mixed primary schools and one girls’ secondary school to design cycle routes from their schools to Trinity College. It is expected to then be expanded to other schools after that.
Professor Brian Caulfield, Trinity College Dublin, said: “The cities across the world that Dublin is trying to emulate in cycling numbers have been promoting cycling to and with children for decades and it has been shown that these early interventions can result in lifelong cycling habits,”