— Despite of health benefits, Fianna Fáil’s health spokesman says cycle paths should not “inhibit or impact” on commercial life
Minister for agriculture, and TD for Cork South–Central, Simon Coveney told the Irish Examiner that councils should not have to apologies prioritising bicycles in cities.
His comments, which were made when officially launching the Bikeshare.ie on-street bicycle rental system in Cork yesterday, sit against a backdrop of a number of local politicians fighting against Cork’s fledging network of cycle paths and lanes.
The Irish Examiner today said that the Government minister was asked about the complaints Cork motorists have made about new cycle paths.
Coveney replied: “We’re prioritising bikes in the city. It’s as simple as that. Obviously there are safety issues and there is more work to be done to connect cycleways, but I don’t think we should be making any apologies to anybody for prioritising putting in cycleways into busy streets like Washington St that are wide enough to be able to carry that.”
He said that people in cars in Dublin had also found road changes for cycling “frustrating”, but they had to adapt and change.
It follows comments from Billy Kelleher, Fianna Fáil’s health spokesman, who told the Irish Times recently that he has “questions” about the bike lanes. He told that newspaper that the cycle paths “seem to be taking up a large proportion of road space, which is causing big problems.”
Deputy Kelleher responded by saying: “I fully support encouraging people to take up activities, cycling included. In the context of health and environmental impact it is great activity and one that can be shared with all the family.”
However, he went on to say: “With regard to cycle lanes in Cork my point is simply that lanes have to be strategically thought out so has not to inhibit or impact on the commercial life of city centre.”
He followed that by saying: “Fitness is a key element of tackling obesity and again I support measures that encourage the public to become more active.”
We also asked the Fianna Fáil press office if they could confirm the party’s health policy is on cycle lanes/paths in the context of their health benefits and the removal of space for cars which have negative health impacts.
They responded by referring to the Fianna Fáil cycling policy document — ‘Improving The Urban Cycling Experience‘.
Press officer Greg Moroney said: “The policy document sets out Fianna Fáil’s view regarding the health benefits of cycling and the need for more cycle lanes in order to ensure greater road safety for all road users. Fianna Fáil is continuing its consultations with relevant stakeholders and we expect to add to our policy regarding cycling and cycle lanes in advance of the General Election.”