The Irish Transport Research Network preceded their 2014 annual conference, at the University of Limerick, with a cycling-focused workshop celebrating Limerick’s position as a demonstration city for smarter travel.
The workshop took place on the 3rd September and effectively brought together practitioners, policy makers and researchers from across Ireland for both the workshop and the conference.
The context was set by a presentation from Robert Parkinson from the National Transport Authority with an emphasis on route assessment and mapping and evidencing site specific improvements. An example map is included below, with a focus on Dublin, with examples for the Greater Dublin area outlined as part of the Draft Cycle Network Plan.
This was followed by the opportunity to experience the cycle routes between the university and the city centre. Once at the Limerick Smarter Travel offices the success of the partnership-working between the university and local government bodies became clear. The co-working began at the application stage and continues with employers of each organisation being situated within the Smarter Travel offices. The project combines investment in infrastructure and facilities to enable more sustainable travel choices, supported by activities such as travel plans aimed at workplaces, schools and the university. The university focused cycle map is included below and details of the ‘20 Weeks of Change‘ challenge.
Returning to the University, the emphasis of the afternoon’s presentations were on the importance of evaluation to measure the success of cycle schemes – or indeed any transport intervention – and the role of different sources of data available to measure change.
Aoife O’Grady from Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport emphasised the desirability of completing a realist evaluation, going beyond basic approaches to monitoring to understand the true implications of investments. Related to this, is the challenge in generalising results given the importance of context in understanding how mechanisms influence outcomes. Then Brian Caulfield from Trinity College Dublin discussed the range of data sources available to assist with understanding the impact of cycle interventions on active travel choices, with an emphasis on quantitative approaches.
The workshop came to a close following a round table discussion regarding the challenges and successes of implementing policies to encourage smarter travel. Elements discussed in the workshop flowed through the conference as a whole, as detailed in the conference proceedings.