— No details of Cycling Office release.
Transport Minister Shane Ross has responded to cross-party criticism in the Dail of his inaction on cycling by asking the National Transport Authority to “establish a new Cycling Office”.
A press release was issued by the Department of Transport after a parliamentary debate this evening on cycling which TDs (Irish members of parliament) criticised the transport minister for a lack of action, funding and leadership on cycling.
The response differs from calls from cycling campaigners at Cyclist.ie who have looked for a National Cycling Officer within the Department of Transport.
The statement from the Department of Transport said “This is in addition to the increased funding Minister Ross is making available to support cycling in 2019.”
Minister Ross said: “I’ve asked the NTA establish this new Office to ensure much needed cycling infrastructure is delivered as quickly as possible. Next year I’m increasing funding for cycling and walking programmes by around 33% to €48 million which represents 10% of my Department’s total capital expenditure on public and sustainable transport in 2019. However, those allocations don’t capture all of the funding being made available to cycling and walking next year.”
The statement said that “Cycling will also benefit from the additional money being allocated toward the planning and design of the BusConnects programme. This will deliver around 200km of largely segregated cycle lanes and tracks.”
But the National Transport Authority’s BusConnects infrastructure plans were criticised in the Dail for design issues around cycling and detouring cycling, including in Rathmines where more commuters cycle than take the bus or drive.
Ross added: “In 2019 Minister of State Brendan Griffin and I will also announce the funding allocations under the €53million Greenways Strategy. Simultaneously funding is also being made available through the Government’s Urban and Rural Regeneration and Development Funds.”
The Department of Transport said that in 2019 a number of significant cycling projects will commence construction, including Royal Canal Phases 2, 3 and 4 in Dublin and a section in Kildare, Dodder Greenway, Clontarf to City Centre (via Amiens Street), a route in Navan and project in McCurtain Street in Cork — however, the Dublin Royal Canal project was supposed to get underway earlier this year and has been subject to on-going delays and the Dodder Route is planned to mix walking and cycling, including beside areas with some of the highest areas of cycling modal share in the country.
Minister Ross added: “Next year Dublin City Council, supported by my Department, are hosting Velo City 2019, a major international cycling conference. This is an excellent opportunity to promote cycling in Ireland. I am pleased that our hosting of the conference will be accompanied by the sounds of construction on a number of significant projects across the city and beyond.”