Electric cars should be allowed in bus lanes in Irish cities to promote a move away from petrol and diesel vehicles, Fianna Fáil said today, but cycling campaigners warn of increased danger.
Fianna Fáil spokesperson on communications, energy and natural resources, Timmy Dooley TD, defended the suggestion when pressed on it on Today with Sean O’Rourke on RTE Radio One this morning, saying that radical action was needed for cleaner transport.
On the Today with Sean O’Rourke show, Dooley said that he would envisage that access to bus lanes for electric cars would be at least for five years.
He pointed to Norway as an example, but the move to allow electric cars in Norwegian bus lanes left public transport users compiling of delays due to clogged bus lanes.
The Norwegian Public Roads Administration found that electric cars represented 85% of traffic in bus lanes during rush hour on one road in Oslo and the plug was pulled on the incentive after only three years.
Cycling campaigners said that people cycling are only offered limited protection in bus lanes and that introducing electric cars into bus lanes would be an extra hazard.
Colm Ryder, a spokesman for the Cyclist.ie, said: “Electric cars in bus lanes is a recipe for increased congestion, more inefficient public transport, and increased danger for vulnerable cyclists. This idea must be recognized for the cheap publicity stunt it is. An attempt to go forward by going backwards.”
The new call for electric car promotion for cities follows a warning last year from a top UK advisory on the health effects of pollution that electric cars are not the answer for cities.
“Our cities need fewer cars, not just cleaner cars. One issue is that electric vehicles will not sufficiently reduce particulate matter (PM), the other toxic pollutant emitted by road transport. This is because PM components include not only engine emissions, but also a contribution from brake and tyre wear and road surface abrasion,” Frank Kelly, professor of environmental health at Kings College London, wrote in the Guardian.
Kelly, who is the chairman of the UK government advisory committee on the medical effects of air pollutants, added: “Governments don’t currently pay much attention to PM, but it is in fact highly polluting, with strong links to cardiopulmonary toxicity.”
The World Health Origination states that there is no safe limit to particulate matter pollution and non-engine sources are estimated to amount to well over half of such emissions.
In a statement today, Dooley said, “Minister Naughten is exclaiming the virtues of the Electric Vehicle Home Charger Grant. The introduction of this grant is a positive development, but it must be recognised that significant hurdles remain to be overcome for those looking to convert to electric vehicles. The Government needs to introduce a greater package of measures to help incentivise the use of electric vehicles.
The measures suggested by the party include the removal of motor tax on electric vehicles for five years, eliminating motor tolls for five years, and rolling out more fast-charge points across the road network to remove any threat of range anxiety, and extending the 0% BIK (Benefit in Kind) rate to from the current one year to five years to give certainty for fleet owners.
Dooley added: “There also need to be a commitment that the network of fast-charge points will be maintained to a high standard in the years ahead. Many people who have considered moving to electric vehicles have failed to do so as they are worried that the investment in the fast-charging network will not continue, leaving them with an unreliable mode of transport. Access to bus lanes to encourage uptake of electric vehicles in cities also needs to be addressed.”