Pedal power in Roscommon!

On the week that oil reached a record $90 a barrel, a group of bicycle enthusiasts met in Roscommon to discuss the establishment of a Roscommon Cycling Network; a body to promote the interests of cyclists and cycling across the county.   Is there a hint of a revival of this ancient two-wheeled form of transport around the town? In recent months there have been a few sightings of cyclists among the younger generation, adding to the established few cyclists who have kept the art of cycling alive in Roscommon over some very lean years. Perhaps this year’s Roscommon Fringe Festival, which organised a cycle tour of the town, can claim some credit for the visible increase in the number of cyclists about the place. Cycling has made a remarkable recovery in recent times across Northern Europe in particular. Ireland is not the first country in the world to experience an economic boom, though perhaps it has happened here at a pace that has been unprecedented. Cycling is usually one of the first victims of so-called Tiger Economies and indeed this happened in places like Holland and Germany in the 1960s and ’70s. However, when the Tiger is tamed, cycling begins to re-emerge. People begin to return to cycling for a wide variety of reasons, such as to get away from the stresses of traffic chaos, to improve their general health and state of mind and body, or children begin to demand the right to cycle the amazing bike which Santa left, but which they have been unable to use due to lack of opportunity, etc. We can learn from our European neighbours and there is no need to re-invent this particular wheel ourselves. We need to begin to plan and prepare for a cycling future and there is no time like the present to launch out into the deep; can you imaging for example a car free Roscommon town centre?  Our planners need to, if they are seriously planning for our future – a future after cheap oil. How many parents have said that they are afraid to allow their children out to cycle? What is the alternative? Leave them inside watching TV, but what of the explosion of obesity and rising rates of diabetes among our children. Cycling is an effective and enjoyable form of aerobic exercise. There are no real age barriers to cycling, and people of most fitness levels can cycle, slowly and gently if necessary. It helps with weight management, improves your mood, helps to maintain strength and coordination, beats stress, helps you sleep, saves money, and of course it is better for the environment. Among the points a cycling network can raise are topics such as: Safe cycling routes, road signage to alert motorists of the presence of cyclists, bicycle parking facilities in town, visibility and safety of cyclists, motorist behaviour towards cyclists, local and national government policy, children and cycling, cycling to school and work. On the safety front, the group has plans for a safe cycling schools campaign, for a cycle to school scheme and much more. If you are interested in promoting cycling please come along to a public meeting in Gleeson’s Hotel (back room), Roscommon Town at 8 pm on Monday 19th November. This meeting will aim to launch the Roscommon Cycling Network. Carpe Diem! For further information you can contact Paddy Daly or Fiona Dunne at (090) 6622974.