Minister for Sustainable Transport and Planning Ciarán Cuffe TD has announced that all local authorities will now be required to include specific policies and objectives in their development plans to encourage travel by bicycle and to enable the creation of safe, efficient and attractive networks of cycle routes, especially within urban areas.
The Minister of State has designated the National Cycle Policy Framework 2009 – 2020 to be a policy, related to proper planning and sustainable development under the planning acts.
The policy, published by the Department of Transport under the Government’s new transport policy, Smarter Travel – A Sustainable Transport Future requires that local authority development plans deliver compact urban developments that minimise travel distances; maximise permeability and avoid the necessity for cyclist and pedestrians to make long detours; and create high-quality and seamless cycle and pedestrian networks.
Minister Cuffe said: “In the last number of years we have seen a huge shift in attitudes towards cycling as a mode of transport. The number of people using the bike has increased dramatically in recent years thanks to the Cycle to Work scheme and, in Dublin, the introduction of the hugely popular Dublin Bikes scheme introduced by Dublin City Council.”
This is the third time in recent months that the Minister has evoked this power to ensure that progressive new policies which have been introduced in the area of sustainable transport and planning is acted upon on the ground by local authorities.
The new requirements for cycle friendly policies and initiatives to be included in all local authority development plans is a further innovation which is being implemented further to the major reform of the planning system enacted through the Planning & Development (Amendment) Act 2010 earlier this year.
Minister Cuffe said: “In implementing the National Cycling Policy we’re trying to get more people to choose the bike as their main form of transport, particularly over short distances and to realise the health and fitness benefits of cycling regularly. Increased bicycle use enhances air quality; reduces our dependence on imported and expensive fossil fuels; and reduces our greenhouse gas emissions.”