• Shane Prendergast
  • 5 min read

Shane Prendergast talks about the benefits of cycling, both for your health and for our environment. He also shares his plan for proactively encouraging his colleagues at SEAI to cycle to work.

We are all aware of the challenges facing the transport sector in Ireland. According to SEAI’s 2022 National Energy Balance, transport in Ireland makes up 34% of all transport-related carbon emissions. What can help us overcome these challenges? 

One of the best, easy, widely accessible solutions is the humble bicycle. With greenway and blueway pathways more widely available throughout Ireland, cycling is definitely becoming a viable transport option for many. Would you believe the first bicycle was invented over half a century before the car. Cycling has been ever present, and dare I say underappreciated, in society. Yes, the humble bicycle can be a pillar to the over-arching solution needed to overcome some of our transport challenges.

But what makes it so important to the future landscape of transport in Ireland?

Feel free to add to my list below!

  • If you are on a bike, you are not in a car, so less traffic congestion
  • There is no exhaust on a bike so no emissions
  • Powered by people, well partially so with e-bikes! 
  • The health benefits from cycling, which counts as gentle exercise. Personally, I find it a fantastic way to get a wee bit of exercise in
  • Mental health benefits - if you opt for a spin on a bike, and don’t feel amazing after it, I will eat my hat! 
  • It’s very often a faster mode of travelling through the city
  • It’s fun! 
  • Family friendly - It’s a cross generational activity that can be built into family time. I have a trailer on the back of my bike at the minute for the young pups until they are old enough to hop on a bike themselves
Think of bicycles as ridable art that can just about save the world
Grant Petersen, Bicycle Designer

A bicycle friendly employer

Looking at some of the pros of cycling I would tend to agree with the words of Grant Petersen.  

You are probably thinking that I’m just another person raving about the benefits of cycling and trying to eject folks from their cars, while also being curious as when he’s getting to the point of this blog (I do like a little ramble whether on a page or on a pair of wheels).  

Here at the Sustainable Authority of Ireland (SEAI) we are acutely aware of the significant challenges facing the transport sector. As an organisation we have decided to lead by example and embark on a journey (this pun was always going to feature) to realise a revolution in how we approach our workplace travel/mobility needs and encourage more sustainable ways to travel. We are sold on the benefits of cycling and at SEAI we are proactively encouraging our staff and our networks to cycle more.

Gold level certification!

We have recently achieved a Gold level certificate as a Cycling Friendly Employer (CFE). This a giant first step on our organisation’s journey to decarbonising our transport activity. CFE delivers a carbon reduction but also increases the well-being of staff.  Attaining the gold level certification is a strong statement of commitment from SEAI in the area of workplace mobility and decarbonising transport. Not only does this certificate highlight SEAI as a cycle friendly organisation for staff, but also for visitors who wish to visit our offices, attend meetings and engage with us further. 

Commenting on the CFE Gold level certificate achievement, Declan Meally, Director of Business, Public Sector & Transport in SEAI commented:  

It’s a fantastic honour to be accredited as a Cycle Friendly Employer as an organisation and to see SEAI’s travel and mobility efforts be met with acclaim with a Gold level certificate. As well as being a great guilt-free means of transport for completely avoiding carbon emissions while commuting, the health and cost benefits are clear. We would like to thank the SEAI team that championed this internally and look forward to seeing more uptake of cycling among our staff through the Brompton Bicycle Trial in conjunction with CFE.” 

To celebrate this achievement, SEAI held a Green and Active Commuter morning where staff members who actively commute and cycle to work were encouraged to share their experiences with prospective active commuters. 

Further, SEAI are taking part in a Brompton Bicycle Trial in conjunction with CFE where a number of Brompton Bikes [Brompton Bikes - Folding Bikes for Commuters in Cities & Urban Areas], unique foldable bikes, are being made available to SEAI staff for a few months. The goal is to encourage staff to cycle to and from work and where possible, giving them a viable alternative to colleagues’ preferred mode of business travel. 

Just to finish up, cycling is fun, inclusive, healthy, good for the environment and a great family activity. At the end of the day, how it moves is entirely dependent on you. You never know, if you start cycling as your primary transport habit, you could be the trend setter amongst your family, friends, co-workers. A real catalyst for change! 

Consider cycling as a possibility for your commute and take a look at the Bike to Work scheme link below and see if this is an initiative that your organisation could or already supports.

“The Bicycle is a curious vehicle. Its passenger is its engine” – John Howard, US Cyclist 

The promotion of cycling among our colleagues as a primary travel option aligns with our values and culture in SEAI. Cycling, of traditional bikes and also e-bikes, is a key transport solution which needs to become more central to public life in Ireland across urban and rural areas if we are to meet our 2030 carbon emission targets. Cycling also has multiple benefits, reducing noise pollution, minimising congestion on our roads, and helping us to maintain our health and live longer. We welcome this Gold level certificate from CFE, and we will strive to cycle more and lead by example to promote cycling and increase bike-friendly infrastructure among our wider networks.  
William Walsh, CEO at SEAI

Shane Prendergast | Programme Manager - EV Grants

Shane Prendergast is a Programme Manager working in EV Charging Infrastructure & Policy, Mobility and Smart Networks in SEAI with a primary focus on decarbonising the transport sector through electrification, modal and behaviour shift and educating and empowering citizens, communities and businesses to take control of their energy and electricity use and become smart and flexible energy users.