WALKERS, cyclists and rollerbladers had the rare experience of a traffic-free city centre for two hours last Sunday when a circular route was reserved for the first Limerick Cyclovia event.
From 2 to 4pm, locals explored their city by their preferred method of human-powered transport on a loop that brought them from a pedestrianised O’Connell St and passed King John’s Castle, the Treaty Stone, Cleeves Factory and back across a temporarily segregated cycle lane on the Shannon Bridge.
Activities included cycling and walking history tours, street games, live music, reduced price access to King Johns Castle and the freedom to weave through the cities streets.
Cautious and more vulnerable cyclists got to explore the city on their own terms. Pedestrians were no longer confined to the footpath while skaters, scooters and rollerbladers had the space of the open road.
As well as providing the opportunity to enjoy Limerick from a different perspective, it was a carbon-free, people-powered movement that celebrated shared space and shared community.
A collaboration between the Limerick Cycling Campaign and Limerick Council, the Cyclovia was organised to mark International Car Free Day. It was the most expansive and largest set of road closures across Ireland for Car Free Day.
Attendance was beyond the organisers’ expectations with more than 200 cyclists leaving in the first wave to travel the route. Hundreds more joined the festivities on a pedestrianised O’Connell Street.
Conor Buckley of the Limerick Cycling Campaign spoke of how the event showed the untapped demand for better cycling infrastructure:
“It shows that Limerick people want a safe network of cycle infrastructure in their city. The demand is there when a route that is safe and separated from motor traffic is provided. We’re hoping that it shows Limerick Council officials and councillors that funding and development of safe cycling infrastructure should be a priority.”
Mary Ryan from Raheen said there was an amazing party atmosphere on O’Connell Street without cars.
“I came in with my two children and it’s such a safer and more pleasant place than usual. There’s a wonderful sense of community with kids playing on the street and parents relaxing for a chat and a coffee.”
Anne Cronin of the Limerick Cycling Bus identified the closure of one of the inbound lanes on Shannon Bridge as a particular triumph and one that should be considered on a permanent basis.
“Closing one of the inbound lanes of Shannon bridge would transform the city, providing better wellbeing for the city population from a transport and climate action perspective.”
Dave Tobin of Limerick Cycling Campaign praised Limerick Council officials for how they approached the event.
“We have been impressed by how forward-thinking officials working in Limerick Council bought into and championed the Limerick Cyclovia. It was a real collaboration and we look forward to working together with them on future cycling projects that will help make our city a more pleasant and liveable space,” he said.
by Tom McCullough