The Greater Dublin Area Transport Strategy 2022-2042 was published late last month (January 2023) by the National Transport Authority. The Strategy aims to expand and integrate public transport modes, as well as cycling and walking, in all four Dublin local authority areas and in the surrounding built-up areas of Kildare, Meath and Wicklow.
From the point of view of Cyclist.ie this is a critical document. Cycling’s role in transport depends on integration with other modes, and protection for us on our roads and streets. Safe cycling depends on policies like those contained in this Strategy, and in legislation like the Planning Acts, Roads Acts and traffic law.
Very broadly, the Strategy supports the expansion of DART, Luas and BusConnects, together with continued reductions in reliance on private car traffic (from 57.7% to 48.6%). The authors claim it will lead to a reduction in carbon emissions from transport in the GDA from 3.2 Megatonnes of CO2 equivalent in 2018 down to about one tonne by 2042. Cycling’s share of trips is planned to increase from 3.2% to 11.5%.
Those ambitions are critical in reclaiming our road space for cycling, walking and wheeling, turning back the tide of car dependency and danger that has benighted Dublin’s roads for decades. A joined-up, frequent, easy-to-use public transport system is really important for people using bikes because it allows for safer roads, as well as ‘inter-modal’ travel like taking your bike on DART, or getting Luas and then hopping on a Bleeper bike for the last km of your journey.
Covering the period up to 2042, the Strategy has a reported budget of €25bn. It seeks to build out the MetroLink rail line including a north-south tunnel for heavy rail across the city. However it shelves the DART Underground tunnel plan. While we would claim no expertise in rail planning, we note with concern the call by Dublin Commuter Coalition to review projections for usage of DART Underground and its delivery timescales. Cyclist.ie did make a response to the recent Consultation Paper on the On Island Strategic Rail Review, particularly with regard to inter-modal travel, and is calling for a meeting with the NTA to further discuss cycling and train use.
Back to issues more closely related to cycling, the GDA Strategy supports the National Transport Authority’s Cycle Network Plan for Dublin, which has been on paper in various forms for over three decades now and is being built out much more rapidly since the Covid pandemic. Cyclist.ie generally supports the Network Plan. Both interim and permanent schemes in the Plan are being built, and much of the permanent network is integrated with BusConnects Core Bus Corridors (we’re studying those designs and making submissions covering each Corridor). Of interim schemes, the patchy Liffey Cycle Route and the highly-acclaimed Coastal Mobility Route in Dun Laoghaire are telling examples of their variable quality.
The Strategy was initially released for public consultation in November 2021, and we made a submission on that in Jan 2022 (which we posted here). We felt the target to increase cycling’s share of trips to 12% was unambitious: Cycling can do much more of the heavy lifting for transport in Dublin than 12%. On a larger scale, we called then for the Strategy to address this country’s dire record on planning delays, but the final version fails to really tackle this issue. Another national issue we highlighted is upgrading the Common Appraisal Framework. This Framework is used to assess the benefits versus costs of transport projects prior to funding by Government, and needs to be revised to take proper account of the benefits of promoting active travel; it’s too heavily weighted towards saving motorists’ time currently. The final GDA Strategy misses an opportunity to make a strong case for improvements here. We were also a bit disappointed to see little change since the Draft Strategy around the gathering and sharing of travel data, and RSA road safety data. We were saddened that there’s no aim in the Strategy to work towards a default 30 km/h speed limit for all urban areas in the GDA, or meaningfully addressing the needs of children who are disproportionately affected by our current, highly car-dependent, environment.
However, overall, it can’t be denied that the Strategy offers a vast improvement in joined-up, long-term thinking and does seek to assist Dublin’s development into a more liveable, sustainable region.
That’s a very brief, broad outline. Do have a look for yourself and let us know your thoughts; the Strategy: is viewable here.