The Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (DTTAS) and the National Transport Authority (NTA) have recently announced separate major Stimulus Funding packages for Active Travel projects in the major cities and other counties around the country. Both of these funding packages, which are broadly welcomed, are due to be spent by the end of this calendar year – which is highly ambitious. Therefore cycling advocates around the country need to try to ensure that the monies are spent – and spent wisely – by the Local Councils, as there is a number of listed projects that are of dubious benefit to cyclists and pedestrians. We urge you to check out the level of ambition of your own Local Council, by accessing the links below in this article.
The NTA announced a €55 million package for the Greater Dublin Area (GDA) and the other four main cities. Dublin City Council, not surprisingly, has received the largest share of this funding at just over €12million, with Kildare County Council in the GDA receiving the lowest figure of only €1.8million, possibly a reflection of its level of ambition in relation to active travel? The four Dublin local authorities account for approximately 50% of the available package. Dublin City and Dun Laoghaire Rathdown Councils are by far and away the most ambitious. Within the GDA, South Dublin, Kildare, Meath & Wicklow have minimal allocations for cycling, with most funds being spent on pedestrian improvements such as footpaths and crossings.
Outside Dublin, Limerick City and County Council’s allocation of nearly €9million includes a number of general road resurfacing projects, which will of course also benefit cyclists and bus passengers. But will it encourage greater levels of cycling? Cork City in its €4million allocation concentrates on the public realm, with some ‘footpaths or cycling’ measures included. It is unclear as to what is actually intended. Galway City proposes to ‘resurface roundabouts… to improve safety for cyclists’. We wonder what this actually means as many of Galway’s roundabouts are ‘no-go’ areas for people on bikes! Galway City also proposes to ‘convert a hard shoulder to a cycleway’ on Bóthar na dTreabh, which is a fast multi-lane roadway. We are dubious of what exactly is proposed in this area, which is not a major cycle route. Meanwhile Waterford City and County Council has a number of general resurfacing jobs and mainly footpaths and crossings.
The Stimulus allocations from DTTAS amount to a €33 million package for Active Travel across 22 County Councils, outside the ambit of the NTA. Cork County Council is the largest recipient of funding, accounting to over €5 million of the total. Carlow County Council at €528,000 is the recipient of the smallest amount. A major worry for cycling advocates are proposals for building ‘greyways’. These appear to be expenditure of scarce funds by designating hard shoulders on roadways as cycle lanes. In 2012-13 after a number of similar schemes, DTTAS stopped the conversion of hard shoulders for cycling use. The term ‘greyways’ does not exist in the cycling infrastructure lexicon, and Cyclist.ie questions its use without clear design criteria and proper safety considerations. These greyways are proposed in a total of seven counties: Galway, Louth, Longford, Kilkenny, Tipperary, Wexford, and Roscommon. We seek full reconsideration of these greyway proposals unless clear design guidelines and guaranteed safety for cyclists are provided.
In conclusion, Cyclist.ie welcomes this double injection of funding for Active Travel around the country, but urges caution in relation to some of the projects which are clearly of dubious benefit to pedestrians and people on bikes. In particular we would like to see the proposed ‘greyway’ funding re-allocated to other active travel projects with a clearer benefit for cyclists and pedestrians.
Photo above: From Donna Cooney and the Green Lanes National School Cycle Bus