— City councillors voice strong disapproval of funding cut.
— Delay due “dictate of the totally unaccountable National Transport Authority” says one councillor.
A “shock and surprise” central government walking and cycling funding cut and a lack of council engineers due to the Luas City tram project are to blame for the postponement of cycling projects, Dublin City Council officials said at the council’s monthly meeting on Monday night.
A larger number of projects are affected than reported on the issue to date. The list of projects suspended or otherwise left without funding include the Dodder Greenway, Royal Canal Phase 4, Grand Canal Greenway, Clonskeagh to City Centre Cycle Scheme, Drury Street Cycle Parking upgrade, and the Heuston to Chapelizod Greenway.
The Clontarf to City Centre Cycle Scheme is delayed for a shorter amount of time. The already delayed project had been due to reach public consultation back in June but this has been delayed until October.
The Point roundabout replacement — a road widening scheme with some walking and cycling improvements — is delayed, but unlike most of the cycling and walking projects, it is due to proceed in a matter of months..
“It’s an issue of two halves, the timing and the funding,” said Declan Wallace, assistant chief executive with responsibility for the transport section of the council.
On the issue of timing he said: “Luas Cross City works are ongoing and certain junctions can’t be designed until literally they come to them and we have to have people on standby who engage fully with each junction as it is being redesigned.”
Keegan said: “[the NTA board] are continuing to press the department for a restoration of funding for cycling and walking. But ultimately that a decision made by the Department [of Transport]. And there was shock and surprise when the allocation came out over the medium term capital programme.”
He said regardless of issues due to Luas Cross City, it was not good enough that the authority had decided that the greenway was not going ahead for the foreseeable future.
Cllr Andrew Montague (Labour) said: “Our stated priority is walking and cycling, followed by public transport, but we are doing the exact opposite.”
He listed the projects cancelled or deferred said that “This is crazy”, and outlined how walking and cycling gives better return on investment than other modes of transport.
Cllr Montague said: “Everybody at this time of year is experiencing a big increase in traffic when children go back to school, if we had those walking and cycleways in the city it would make such a big difference in and would relieve some of that pressure. It would make our children healthier and it would mean less carbon emissions, it’s what we should be doing.”
Cllr Paddy McCartan (FG) said that the decision is “shortsighted” and a message should go out that the council is disappointed.
Cllr Claire Byrne (Green Party) said: “It’s an absolute tragedy for the city that these projects are being put on the longer finger again. We need to be investing in cycling and walking infrastructure, not only for the health of the nation but also to reach our climate change targets. We can’t be effectively forcing people back into cars and only focusing on building infrastructure for cars.”
“Cycling is supposed to be taking up to 10% of trips by 2020 but we are still only investing 1% in cycling — this needs to change and we need to start to balancing our budget soon,” she said.
The National Transport Authority and Department of Transport have yet to respond to a request for comment.
- Royal Canal Phase 4 — “Project suspended. Part 8 granted. Requires a project engineer.”
- Grand Canal Greenway — “The project is scheduled for suspension on request from NTA.”
- Clonskeagh to City Centre Cycle Scheme “The project is to be suspended on request from NTA.”
- Drury Street Cycle Parking — “Part 8 application scheduled for June 2016. Alternative funding required implementing scheme. The NTA will not be funding construction.”
- Heuston to Chapelizod Greenway — “Project on hold. Requires project engineer.”
- Point Roundabout “Part 8 granted. Project on Hold until January 2017. Requires project engineer.”
- Clontarf to City Centre Cycle Scheme “Part 8 submission delayed, now scheduled for October 2016.”