Central government funding cut to blame for Dublin cycling projects delay, says city council

— 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.”

DCC meeting

IMAGE: Owen Keegan (right) and Declan Wallace (left) at the council meeting on Monday night.

City manager Owen Keegan said that there was a “significant under allocation” of funding from the National Transport Authority compared to what was sought by the council. There is a very strong support from the NTA board for a continuation and acceleration of investment in relation to cycling but they are dependent on the funding they get from government. They have made representation.”

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.”

“I can assure you that there’s no lack of support from the NTA, it’s just that there’s a temporary hiccup with the funding. I’m pretty confident that it will be resolved,” the city manager said.
Cllr Dermot Lacey (Labour) said: “I was fairly shocked over the weekend, and was angry to read that the Dodder Greenway had been deferred or canceled, not by us but by dictate of the totally unaccountable National Transport Authority.”

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.

Dodder Greenway — “The project is to be suspended on request from NTA. Project to be put on hold unless DCC secures alternative funding for the project.”
What the report to councillors says:
  • 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.”

VIEW: Dublin City Council monthly meeting, September 2016

6 Comments

  1. Of course if the same Cllrs had not reduced the RPT by the maximum 15% permitted by government we could be solving some of these issues from within the City’s own budget.

  2. The NRT have a lot to answer for. This delay will have a human toll. It makes no sense.

  3. Take action now by calling on Minister Shane Ross to #allocate4cycling with Cyclist.ie/Dublin Cycling Campaign’s suggested email text http://buff.ly/1rp1Rjn

    It only takes a few minutes to copy/paste and customise if you want. Thanks

  4. I’m curious why Dublin city council need to have engineers on standby for the luas. Surely the NRA/TII who are building the tramline have engineers to do this work? The luas works have nothing to do with the nta.

  5. Listen to Cllr Paddy Smith on Newstalk’s ‘Right Hook’ yesterday about the DoTTAS cut in funding for essential cycling infrastructure. About 4 min into start of programme. It is Minister Ross’ decision.
    http://ow.ly/5Un9303Z6Tv

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