Who are Ireland’s cycling campaigners and what motivates them? Week 14: Daniel Danko
We often hear people talk about cycling campaigners abstractly, despite all of them being volunteers, they are regularly called “cycling lobbyists”. But who are these people and what motivates them? In our ongoing series, each week a cycling campaigner from somewhere around Ireland tells us a bit about themselves and why they campaign for safer and more attractive streets and roads.
Who are you and what group are you involved with?
My name is Daniel Danko. My family and I are an international family that spent the last 20 years between London, Prague, Phoenix, and a tiny village in Eastern Slovakia where I am originally from.
We moved to Drogheda back in July 2019. I became a member of a small advocacy group of Drogheda-based cycling enthusiasts with the ambition to spark an interest in cycling, meaningfully engage with the local authorities, and promote a healthy and happy way of life. I have been involved with Drogheda Cycling from its inception and currently hold the position of treasurer.
What was your earliest memory of cycling?
I remember my first ride without training wheels when I was 6 or 7 years old. My dad gave me a slight push to get the balance right. As I hadn’t quite figured out how to turn yet, I fell over and wound up in the ditch a hundred meters down the road.
After childhood, why did you start cycling yourself?
I haven’t started cycling more seriously until my mid-late 30ies. It was a friend of mine, a passionate cyclist, who re-introduced me to cycling. It was initially for health reasons but this quickly turned to cycling adventures and touring and a way of living.
What motivates you as a cycling campaigner?
The motivation is the prospect or a vision of what our town can be. Drogheda is not cycling or very pedestrian-friendly. The town has grown too fast in the last few years and the proper active travel infrastructure has not been developed properly. One of the drivers for campaigning is to advocate on behalf of vulnerable road users, making sure that any new development in our town takes active travel into serious consideration. This is one of the reasons why DCG exists.
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How did you get involved in campaigning in the first place?
Cycling has always introduced me to the type of people I enjoy being around so it wasn’t a big stretch to become more involved in campaigning.
As a group, we want to be at the forefront of the movement to create a cycle-friendly future for our town. Everyone, who decides to give it a go, should be able to safely hop on a bike, whether they’re heading to work, school, or the shops, enjoying the countryside at the weekend, or taking on an epic long-distance trail across Ireland.
What’s the most effective way you think that more people will hop on their bikes in Ireland?
Many people think that you need to be very fit or really brave to ride a bike. The Irish weather, hilly terrain, heavy traffic, and the lack of cycling infrastructure in general are not helping the cause. One of the solutions is to help people overcome their concerns and fears (ie organising bicycle skills school, or events where people can safely practice riding a bike at first). Community cycling events are a good environment for less experienced cyclists to get on the road in a more controlled fashion.