Minister Ross asks NTA to set up “Cycling Office” after Dail inaction criticism

— 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.”

I am editor of IrishCycle.com and have reported on and commented on cycling in Ireland for over a decade. My background is in journalism -- I have a BA in Journalism from DCU and HDip in Print Journalism from BCFE. I wrote about cycling for national newspapers, and then started CyclingInDublin.com for overflow stories. Later the website was re-branded to reflect a more national focus.

18 Comments

  1. Thanks again @ Irish Cycle! We live in interesting times!

  2. A Cycling Office will only work if it has the power to influence road projects. An advisory role will be a waste.

  3. We don’t need a Cycling Office in the NTA to continue promoting low standards. We need a National Cycling Officer to raise standards and ensure that there is sufficient allocation of funding from the DTTaS budget.

  4. Absolutely @Stephen McManus, Why doesn’t the Irish Cycle blog allow up-votes, save me typing!

  5. First of all ….Great and Comprehensive reportage from last night’s Dáil debate!
    As one who was unable to be there it was wonderful to be able to read the report on IrishCycle.com!
    Re NTA Cycling Office….this already exists…so what exactly is being proposed? NTA has a limited remit and only covers main cities! National Cycling Office, as Cyclist.ie has been calling for, needs to be in DTTAS directly, to ensure legislation is advanced, policy is advanced, and coordination across government departments as well!
    Funding jump in 2019 is massive, but may well be as a result of unlikely spend ion Bus Connects!? We need to see details!

  6. What Gerard Dornan said. The essential problem here is that “the Minister” (Alan Kelly/Shane Ross etc via their officials) does not accept that they have any supervisory function over the manner in which the funds they distribute are spent. If the NTA have a cycling office it will be like any other local authority roads department. Answerable to no-one except occasionally An Bord Pleanala.

  7. I disagree that a national cycling office should be in DTTaS. It should be at a higher level, Department of the Taoiseach, at the moment the DTTaS is part of the problem along with.

  8. If they put their money where their mouth is I’ll be happy. Funding jump seems huge, although I suspect that may be mostly jobs that are going on site next year, Fairview, Royal canal, Dodder etc. and not anything new.

  9. Good news. Although the office won’t be much use if they replicate what happens here in Wexford. It is “very much a part time role” according to the Council. The current role is vacant. And they have made no noticeable improvement to cycling infrastructure since the role was created. I asked the council could they show me previous contributions the “cycling officer” made to council projects, they could not.

  10. Excellent reporting Cian! Is the cycling game really changing now in Dublin and elsewhere in Ireland? Looking forward to listen to the “sounds of construction on a number of significant projects across the city and beyond” [quote from Ross’ speech]. “Sounds of construction”, what a phrase, will this ring the cycling bell?

  11. What the Dail debate itself and the speedy reaction to it from the arch-narcissist Ross illustrate most clearly is that the political classes are acutely aware that the forthcoming Velocity 2019 conference is going to shine an unforgiving international spotlight on Ireland’s provision (or lack thereof) of cycling infrastructure and policy.

    As a result, there is almost certainly an opportunity here for cycling advocacy groups to make their case as stridently and persistently as possible over the next 6 months because there is good reason to believe that positive outcomes may be more likely than usual.

  12. A cycling office already exists? show me where https://www.nationaltransport.ie/ ? IM looking for organisational chart to see what sub-offices they currently have, can’t find any.

  13. If there is a Cycling Office with sufficient authority inside the NTA, how did Luas Cross City become such a disaster? I asked the NTA last december whether they had a driver/champion to look at projects from a cycling perspective. Their response was:

    “The NTA was established in 2009, under the Dublin Transport Authority Act (2008) and the Public Transport Regulation Act (2009). The functions and objectives of the Authority are set out in both Acts. With regard to cycling, as set out in the DTA Act, it is an objective of the Authority to seek to achieve, and a function of the Authority to promote, increased recourse to cycling and walking as means of transport (Sections 10 [e] and 11 [1] [d]).

    The Authority does not have an advocate or champion who represents the interests of cycling specifically. Promotion of cycling is a function/objective of the Authority as a whole.”

  14. Great reporting thanks Cian

  15. Funding allocation of €338m, for roads infrastructure around the country.

    Based on the figures quoted above, spending on cycling infrastructure would be about 6% of the total (roads plus sustainable transport). Good progress, but still more needed in future spending, if Ireland is serious about developing cycling as an option for its citizens.

    http://www.tii.ie/news/press-releases/allocations-announced-2019/

  16. I think Hugh needs to recheck his figures. Cycling gets less than 2% and probably less than 1.5% of the land transport budget.

  17. @cyclist, I’m sure you’re right. I was using the numbers quoted above. These are budget allocations as far as I can see. I expect the numbers will be spun at least three times, before the money spent.

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