Report on Sligo Summer Cycling launch event.
Positive Experiences of Cycling in Sligo:
On Wednesday, May 19th Sligo Cycling Campaign held a virtual launch of its new website and of its Summer Cycling initiative. To mark the occasion, the campaign invited a number of local people who enjoy cycling to speak about their experiences on their bikes. The speakers were asked to say what they enjoyed about cycling and what changes would improve their experience of cycling in Sligo. We will report on these suggestions in a separate article.
The audience heard many positive stories about the benefits of cycling. Karen Harris, a doctor in Sligo University Hospital. said she initially started cycling to work, “in order to fit exercise into my busy day and I have now come to love cycling”. When you are juggling work and family responsibilities it is difficult to find time to exercise so the best solution, Karen said, was to incorporate it into her daily routine. “The physical health benefits of regular exercise are well-known and in particular, during the stressful and pressurised times in the health sector during Covid-19 I found that cycling was also a great way to mentally prepare en route to work and to unwind before getting home. Now I cycle to work every day, whatever the weather”.
Paul Conneally works in the Tech Sector, and regularly commutes to work. Paul spoke about how cycling to work energises him and leaves him ready to face the working day. Then the cycle home in the evening leaves him ready to meet his family and participate in family activities. “Choosing to cycle to work was made easier for me because in my workplace there are showers and good bike storage facilities available” he said.
Niamh and Brian O’Sullivan spoke about their experience as parents who use the Strandhill Cycle Bus.
“Our son loves the cycle bus, and his enthusiasm means we are up bright and early for school each morning and are energised by the whole cycling experience”. Brian remarked that he started cycling himself when he moved to Strandhill, and that having the cycle lanes had made it possible for an inexperienced rider to get back on the bike. Niamh loves to see the children in Strandhill have the freedom to cycle independently throughout the village.
Gemma Woods, PRO of Sligo Cycling Campaign was instrumental in setting up the Cycle Bus in Strandhill and she gave a presentation about the steps involved in establishing and coordinating the bus. Gemma too remarked on how happy the children are cycling together to school. “The success of the Cycle Bus is measured by the fact that 5-year-olds are cycling on the bus and many of the older children are cycling independently to school” said Gemma.
Bob and Sinead Coggins and family spent several years living in Dublin close to the city centre and “we cycled everywhere both on our own bikes and using Dublin Bikes. We now live in Sligo, have two small children and enjoy ferrying them in a bicycle trailer”.
The final speaker was Minister of State for Public Health Well Being and National Drug Strategy. The Minister commented on his positive experience of cycling with the Strandhill Cycle Bus in April. He stated that he very much supports the work of Sligo Cycling Campaign which fits with the objectives of The National Physical Activity Plan. The Minister said he understood the need to connect Greenways to towns and villages, citing the linking up of Lough Key Forest Park trail to Boyle. He wished Sligo Cycling Campaign well in its work.