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Pre-Budget 2021 submission

Cyclist.ie delivered our Pre-Budget 2021 Submission to the Department of Finance earlier today. You can read it immediately below. A PDF version can also be found here. A big thanks to our hard-working Executive Committee and wider team for preparing the submission.

Make the Programme for Government a Reality!
Ensure 10% of Transport Capital Funding is Allocated to Creating High Quality Conditions for Cycling Countrywide

1 – Introduction 

Cyclist.ie, the Irish Cycling Advocacy Network, is the umbrella body of cycling advocacy groups in Ireland (http://cyclist.ie/) and the member for Ireland of the European Cyclists’ Federation (https://ecf.com/). Our vision is that cycling, as a mode of transport, becomes a normal part of everyday life for all ages and abilities in Ireland. 

As recognised in the new Programme for Government (PfG), cycling as a mode of transport offers numerous well documented benefits to society, including:

  • improved public health (especially important in this Covid period)
  • reduced congestion 
  • reduced greenhouse gas emissions     
  • reduced air and noise pollution 
  • increased mobility (again, especially important in this Covid period when numbers that can safely use public transport are greatly reduced)
  • more liveable and sociable streets and communities
  • high rates of economic return on investment 

Unlocking these benefits requires targeted and sustained investment, and international evidence demonstrates that investing in cycling provides excellent value for money. 

Cyclist.ie needs to see the promises made in the Programme for Government (PfG) become reality, with clear timelines instituted so as to ensure that the various commitments made are followed through. 

We outline our budget recommendations below under the following four headings

  • Taxation and Fiscal Policy directions to create modal-shift
  • Institutional Changes (with a Budgetary Dimension)
  • Interventions to ensure all cycling infrastructure, both urban and rural, meets the highest standards 
  • Legislative Changes and Promotion of Cycling

Cycling delivers multiple benefits to society and it is essential that good habits are developed at the school-going age. Photo by Anna Groniecka at the ‘Back to School on Your Own Fuel’ campaign

2 – Taxation and Fiscal Policy directions to create modal-shift

  • 10% of the transport capital expenditure annual budget on cycling projects / €360M per annum – as per the PfG. This is essential, and once achieved it must be maintained year-on-year. Allocations for cycling development to be accounted for separately from other sustainable transport measures.
  • Increasing duty on diesel over four years to match petrol so as to improve air quality. Duty levels on fuels to be reviewed year on year.
  • Road-pricing policies in major cities to be researched immediately, with a view to implementation by 2022.
  • Parking levies legislation to be introduced with a view to encouraging greater sustainable transport use, and curbing car use. 
  • All Fixed Charge Penalty Offence (FCPO) fines, impacting on Vulnerable Road User Safety, to be markedly increased, to support more efficient use of road space.  
  • Subsidies for e-bikes to be increased, similar to e-cars. SEAI grants for e-bikes especially e-cargo bikes, need to be part of the Grants Package. 
  • VAT reduction on bikes and bike repairs, to encourage greater sales and usage. 
  • Mileage / km allowances for cycling, to encourage greater use of commuting by bike, similar to Belgium 
  • Fleets of bikes for state and semi-state employees to use instead of cars for some work journeys
  • Provision of covered secure bike parking for all major transport hubs / interchanges, shopping and service centres, and in particular in schools and colleges.
  • Transport Stimulus Fund for ‘quick wins’ for each local authority, every year, to drive modal shift. I.e. schemes which can be advanced quickly without the need for planning approval. 
  • Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, NTA, RSA and TII officials to do study tours to NL, DK and UK (for example) and systematically disseminate the knowledge gained widely within the Irish public / civil service. 
  • Provide support for bike mechanic training programmes.
  • Expansion of bike to work scheme (recent changes welcome) to be more inclusive with focus on low earners, students, and unwaged. 
  • Funds to enable the retrofitting of train carriages for increased carriage of bicycles, and the future purchase of appropriate carriages to meet EU bike carrying capacity requirements. 

3 – Institutional Changes (with a Budgetary Dimension)

National Level Departments / Agencies

  • Create and resource appropriately within the Department of Transport, a National Cycling Coordination Office headed at senior level. This would be primarily focused on ensuring coordination on policy, standards, and expenditure across government departments. 
  • Establish a major new National Cycling Authority, possibly within the existing NTA, to manage  Local / Regional cycle design offices, as sub-units of the NTA – so that there is proper oversight on the planning and the quality of all cycling schemes in ALL local authorities 
  • Address the need for the standardisation of planning processes, consultations, and transparency across all local authorities. All planning proposals should be searchable and viewable online, and the processes open and transparent. Parity of esteem and parity of information is required between active travel and road schemes. 

Local Authorities

  • Require every Local Authority to commission and oversee the implementation of a high quality cycling policy and strategy. This would encompass the three main strands of
    (i) ‘policy planning (structure for continuous dialogue with users, target setting, resources, training, adopted policy doc),
    (ii) ‘actions’ (infrastructure, including the development of ambitious strategic cycle network plans, promotion / soft measures, staffing resources)
    (iii) monitoring / evaluation of policy and . 
  • Require the appointment of Cycling Officers at Director of Services level in all Local Authorities, with a remit: 
    • To produce and oversee the implementation of the above high quality cycling policy
    • To set targets and effect modal change at local level
    • To ensure adequate staffing resources for active travel development in line with PfG, and to oversee any required re-allocation of staff internally.
    • To set up a Local Authority Active Travel Forum (this could be sub-committee of the Transport Strategic Policy Committee) where stakeholder views are adequately represented.
  •  Develop a clear policy for Cycling in Rural Ireland. See: https://cyclist.ie/ruralvision/. Cycling needs to be a countrywide issue, not just an issue for major urban centres. The opportunities are there and these can also support local economic and social development. 

Ensure updated and realistic comparative assessment of all projects by reviewing the Government’s Common Appraisal Framework(CAF), and Strategic Investment Framework for Land Transport(SFILT), etc

  • Update the Common Appraisal Framework (CAF) so that investments in schemes which promote healthier and low carbon travel are properly recognised for their broad societal benefits. The WHO ‘HEAT’ tool needs to be fully embedded into the CAF.  
  • Review the Strategic Investment Framework for Land Transport (SFILT)  to reflect the declaration of a health emergency by the WHO, and the declaration of a climate emergency by the Dáil, necessitating the decarbonisation of the transport system. 

4 – Interventions to Improve the Quality of Cycling Infrastructure

The commitment in the PfG to fund cycling is quite explicit. The focus now needs to be on how to deliver high quality routes which will enable people of all ages and abilities (the “8 to 80 cohort”) to make the choice to switch to active travel.

  • Prioritise as a matter of urgency a review of design standards
    • to ensure design and construction of safe high quality routes in line with best international practice
    • to ensure design consistency across agencies, institutions, and local authorities
  • The main standards / guidelines for review are:
    • National Cycle Manual
    • Rural Cycleway Standards
    • Design Manual for Urban Roads & Streets (DMURS)

These should all dovetail with each other

  • Establish Local / Regional Cycle Design Offices – sub-units of the NTA – so that there is proper oversight of the quality of all cycling schemes in all local authorities (as opposed to just some schemes in some LA areas as is the current situation). Consultancy staff will need to be deployed as appropriate. This will ensure available expertise for local authorities for quick delivery of high quality projects
  • Set up accelerated training programs for local authority staff in sustainable mobility design and implementation. 
  • Every Local Authority to develop ambitious strategic cycle network plans for their towns and at a county level. 
  • Covid cycling schemes. Ensure that the NTA systematically monitors the quality and use of all ‘quick-to-construct’ schemes with a view to feeding this knowledge into design standards and further plans by Local Authorities. 
  • Currently cycling schemes are designed by a range of bodies – the NTA, TII, by local authorities or by consultants working for any of the above, hence the need for improved coordination and consistency of design.
    Funding should not be provided for low quality schemes that do not meet the required design standards.

5 – Legislative Changes and Promotion of Cycling

  • Resource and expedite Legislative Changes to prioritise active travel measures within an agreed time-frame. This is critical to support the growth of active travel.   
  • Introduce legislation so that 30km/h becomes the default speed limit in all built-up areas, and Councils can then introduce exceptions to these limits where it is deemed safe and appropriate. 
  • Cycle promotion, especially among marginalised groups. The same sophistication used in car advertising and marketing needs to be applied to sell active travel. 
    • This video example from Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council (DLRCC) is an example of what is possible

Screen shot from DLRCC’s video on the new Coastal Mobility Route (link above)

  • Cycle Training, via the Cycle Right program, needs to be expanded further, with adequate funding to ensure that local authorities can offer cycle training for all levels and ages including on-street training. 
  • Provide funding support for Active Travel advocacy so that the wider societal benefits of investing in cycling are understood – and that community support can be nurtured for high quality schemes etc.  
  • Include Cyclist.ie as a stakeholder under Section 82 of the Planning and Development Regulations 2001. 
  • Support the creation for Ireland of a tool equivalent to the Propensity to Cycle Tool (https://www.pct.bike/) as developed by Rachel Aldred for England & Wales. This would use Census data and would assist local communities in developing higher levels of cycling. 

Colm Ryder,
Chairperson,
Cyclist.ie – the Irish Cycling Advocacy Network
The Tailors’ Hall,
Back Lane,
Dublin, D08 X2A3.