Dundalk pupils
celebrate safe routes to school

World Champion cyclist Martyn Irvine and Minister Alan Kelly visit to see ongoing success of cycle training and Park ‘n’ Stride.

World Champion cyclist Martyn Irvine and Minister Alan Kelly visit to see ongoing success of cycle training and Park ‘n’ Stride.

World champion cyclist Martyn Irvine was in Dundalk today (Tuesday, February 26th) to congratulate students who completed cycle training as part of the Dundalk Smarter Travel Schools Project. Fresh from his historic gold and silver medal wins in Belarus less than a week ago, he joined Alan Kelly TD, Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Tourism & Sport in presenting certificates to the students in St Vincent’s School, Dundalk.

Martyn Irvine and Minister Kelly were celebrating the launch of the Safe Routes to School project and joined Dundalk Town Council Cathaoirleach, Cllr Jennifer Green, and students on a cycle and walk from Jocelyn Drive to St Vincent’s School where a number of students received certificates recognising cycle training they had taken part in.

The Safe Routes to School Project had its origins in the Dundalk Smarter Travel Schools Project which sought to create changes in attitude to travelling to school and also to provide an infrastructure to allow a sustainable approach to school travel.

Dundalk Town Council received the support of Cuchullain Cycling Club in encouraging students to undertake cycle training. Three members of the Club undertook training to UK National Standard and these trainers then provided training to the schools.

Also developed was a Park ‘n’ Stride network promoted by Dundalk Town Council and local business, where parents driving children to school are enabled to park for a short time, free of charge, in one of 16 car parks close to schools and walk their children to and from the school gates.

A total of 10 Schools are involved in the programme with three designated target schools. The training and infrastructure aimed at the target schools also benefit the remaining schools in the programme. The schools are as follows:

Target Schools

CBS Primary; Castletown Girls NS; St Vincent’s Secondary School.

Observer Schools

Colaiste Ris; St Mary’s College, St Mary’s Rd; Dun Dealgan NS; Realt na Mara; St Nicholas’ NS; Dundalk Grammar.

Survey School

St Nicholas’ Monastery Boy’s School (De La Salle NS).

Results from surveys conducted as part of the project are, to date, positive. There has been a significant shift towards walking and cycling at Castletown Girls NS, Réalt na Mara NS, Dún Dealgan NS and Scoil San Nioclás. Park ‘n’ stride increased to 18%, 25% and 29% of the modal share at Dún Dealgan NS Réalt na Mara NS and CBS Primary. Most of the schools show significant increases in Park & Stride. St Nicholas NS School showed an increase in walking from 4 % to 31%. The Observer schools Realt na Mara NS; Dun Dealgan NS; Dundalk Grammar School and St Nicholas Monastery Boys NS, have all achieved an increase in walking and or cycling of at least 3%. Colaiste Ris has seen an 11% significant increase in the use of bus transport. Castletown Girls NS; Réalt na Mara NS and Colaiste Ris show an increase in cycling to school.

Speaking on the launch of Safe Routes to School, Cllr Jennifer Green, Cathaoirleach, Dundalk Town Council, said: “Congratulations to everyone who has taken part in this project, including representatives from Dundalk Town Council, Cuchulainn Cycling Club and of course the students who all took part in the various training sessions.

“The lessons they have learned in cycle safety and related areas will stay with them throughout their lives and I hope it will encourage them to keep on cycling in the years ahead.”