welcomes Ministers’ Announcement on Safe Routes to School very much welcomes the Safe Routes to School Programme announced jointly today by Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan TD, Minister for Education Norma Foley TD and Minister of State Hildegarde Naughton TD. See here for the Departmental Press Release on it

Safe Routes to School were one of’s active travel asks for General Election 2020 (see image below) and we were pleased to see it included in the Programme for Government. 

It is also priority number four of the eight priorities outlined in’s Rural Cycling Collective’s document Vision for Cycling in Rural Ireland: “Prioritise safe cycle routes to schools and car free zones at school gates”.

The statement by Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan that “Schoolchildren need more than hi- vis vests to get to schools safely. They need proper infrastructure to make walking cycling and scooting a practical choice for families” is most welcome. Also welcome is the recognition by Minister for Education Norma Foley that “Being active is a key component of wellbeing”. 

However, while expenditure of €15 million this year seems like a good start to a Safe Routes to School scheme, the aim of providing routes to over 100 schools in 2021 falls well short of what is required. There are almost 4,000 first and second level schools in Ireland, so allowing for a roll-out of 100 safe routes annually it will take 40 years to fulfil Minister of State Naughton’s hope that over time “every student in every village, town and city, can safely travel to and from school be it by foot/scooter or bike”.

In reality we know that many schools are situated adjacent to one other and that therefore the same route will often serve more than one school. However, that still leaves a considerable time-lag before all schools can be provided with safe routes. In order to accelerate the process, suggests that Healthy Ireland and Climate Action Funding should also be made available for the Safe Routes to School programme. Active Travel is certainly a transport issue but it is also a health and a climate issue.  

For the implementation of routes, consultation with parents and with children themselves will be important to ensure that their needs are met – for example in regard to suitable cycle / scooter parking provision at each school and disability requirements. strongly recommends the use of quiet streets as one aspect of the Safer Routes to School approach, and explaining to both residents and parents that this provision is for school-children to cycle safely to/from school, and not a race track for commuter cyclists.

Furthermore, attractive and clearly branded materials, such as the pencil barriers and coloured stickers on roads should be designed for national use, so that the messages are clear to all. The emphasis needs to be on a shift away from helmet wearing and hi-vis, and instead focus on safe and clearly marked cycling / walking infrastructure – and it needs to be done in conjunction with standard 30 km/hr speed limits around all schools. 

Phoenix Park Mobility Options – Submission made a submission last week (Fri 12 March 2021) to the Office of Public Works in regard to the proposals outlined in the Phoenix Park Transport and Mobility Options Study.

The Phoenix Park has both major national and international standing, and its appropriate management and development is of great importance to the nation. Overall we give a broad welcome to this study, and its recommendations, and its recognition of the latent demand, and the inescapable arguments for a more sustainable approach to the management of this National Historic Park. The breadth and scope of the report is impressive and much of the detail on the Park and surrounding areas, and the transport landscape contained therein, will be valuable in planning for the future. welcomes the proposed developments outlined in the study, and in particular the concentration and development of sustainable modes of travel, and the proposed rapid implementation of many of the proposals.

However we have raised a number of issues in our above submission requiring attention:

  • The level of confusion created by the online posted contradictory maps as to the detail of what is exactly proposed, particularly in relation to Access and Roads. These need to be clarified in the interests of accurate public information. We have recommended the use of a consistent and accurate base map with all road and areas correctly labelled for any future reference.
  • The non-inclusion of the Farmleigh Estate, as part of this study, is an omission which is difficult to understand and needs to be addressed. 
  • The omission of two critical external sustainable links to Ashtown Train Station and the Royal Canal, and to the National War Memorial Park across the Liffey needs to be addressed, as these links will help to create a much larger overall network of walking and cycling route access to and from the Phoenix Park. 
  • We recommend that the one way system at Ashtown Gate and the proposals for Knockmaroon Gate be implemented in Phase 1 and not in Phase 3 as indicated.

  • We make specific recommendations in relation to the proposed upgraded road crossings, to ensure they are also cycle accessible.
  • We recommend that both Bus Route options be developed, to ensure better public transport provision access to the main Phoenix park amenities, for all major neighbouring populations.

  • The explanation of the Option choice decisions made on foot of the Multi Criteria Assessment (MCA) approach is deficient and it remains unclear how Option 3 emerged as the preferred option.

We outlined our broad support of the proposals, and look forward to their development and ongoing liaison between, the OPW and the study team in supporting these developments. Additionally, we would welcome further clarification on the issues raised by us.

We are happy at any stage to engage with the study team to discuss any of our above proposals and issues.

You can read’s submission here: 
You can read the An Taisce submission here:
You can read the study report here