“My plan as a Positive Energy Champion is to Empower Communities."
I believe the only way we can achieve the aim to reduce our carbon footprint is to empower people in Limerick City to make the change through grass-roots initiatives. It is in this way we can truly make an impact. The aim of my Positive Energy Champions campaign was to empower the people of Limerick to adopt cycling as a low-carbon mode of transport and to encourage people to cycle as a form of active travel. I had so many ideas about what I wanted to do as a Positive Energy Champion that I found it hard to narrow down the scope of my project. By working with the +CityxChange Team, I was able to identify something meaningful to do.
My Positive Energy Champions campaign was based around the theme of Empowering Communities. My aim was to empower the people of Limerick to promote cycling as a low-carbon mode of transport and encourage people to cycle as a form of active travel. Using the crowd sourcing mapping tool, I asked people to pinpoint areas on a map of Limerick City where they thought a bike share station should be placed alongside the current stations in the city. In this way, we could display what a future bike share scheme that would truly serve the public's needs might look like.
Engaging with people on Twitter worked well, it meant I could promote the campaign and garner interest. Using the crowd sourced mapping tool also worked very well.
I did find it challenging to gain interest in the project in the beginning. I reached out on Twitter to members of the public to garner interest in the campaign and in this way, I linked with Ballinacurra Gaels, who were interested in promoting cycling as an alternative mode of transport. I made an appearance at the Ballinacurra Gaels' event for Limerick Bike Week, which was a great demonstration of how a community could come together and be enthusiastic about cycling. It was a clear example that there are communities in Limerick who do cycle and hopefully this will encourage other communities to try doing the same.
I used Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook as tools to promote my cause and share the link to the bike share map. I found that this was the best way to get the project out there and increase engagement.
I learned that people really do want to get involved in the redevelopment of their city but that it is a long process to gather the data necessary. I learned that it is hard to initially get engaged with a community but once you start it is a matter of networking and linking up with other networks and this is how to empower people to take part.
I think I helped to highlight that there is a public interest in cycling as an alternate mode of transport in Limerick City. I also helped to highlight cycling as a mode of low carbon transport and that in a city the size of Limerick, it is definitely possible to create a bike share network that serves the people. I wanted to show that the current cycling infrastructure in the city is not fit for purpose and want to push the focus on cycling as part of the redevelopment that is ongoing in Limerick City.
I was very happy to meet the then Mayor of Limerick, Daniel Butler about my campaign and was delighted when my campaign was highlighted and discussed in a Travel and Transport Strategic Policy Committee Meeting of Limerick City and County Council.