Minister Ross and campaigners differ on funding after Dail passes cycling motion

— Dail passes motion on nationwide roll-out of cycle tracks segregated.
— Motion calls for 10% funding to cycling, Ross says he’s ramping up funding.
— Campaigners want high-level cycling office in Department, not in NTA.

A non-binding parliamentary motion calling for the national roll-out of cycle tracks, segregated from other road users, was passed with cross-party support in the Dail on Wednesday.

The Fianna Fáil-sponsored motion was declared carried by agreement of the Dail. The motion was successfully amendment by the Green Party to include that the Government should “ensure that ten per cent of transport funding is allocated to cycling.”

As well as the rollout of cycle tracks which are “physically segregated from other road users”, the motion called for the introduction of cycle friendly legislative, expansion of public bike sharing schemes to major suburbs of towns and cities, and the opening up of the Bike to Work scheme to pensioners and unemployed people and allow people to re-use it every three years rather than five.

After the vote on the Green Party amendment, the Ceann Comhairle said: “As the tellers nominated to sign for the ‘Níl’ side have declined to participate, I declare amendment No. 1 to the motion, in the name of the Green Party, to be carried.” As outlined on Oireachtas.ie, it was then outlined: “Amendment declared carried. Motion, as amended, agreed to.”

Because the Green Party amendment and the main motion as amended was carried by agreement of the house there was no vote and no breakdown of who voted for and against it. Amendments by the Government to soften the criticism of it in the motion and by the Labour Party on planning were put and lost.

After the motion passed, Fianna Fáil spokesperson on transport, Robert Troy, said “I hope the Government will now implement the will of the Dail and ensure that we have better cycling infrastructure for all our cyclists. For my part, I will continue to highlight this issue and make sure the Government lives up to this motion.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Transport said: “As has been repeatedly stated, funding for cycling is ‘ramping-up’ thanks to the increases Minister Ross has secured. The impact of these increases can be seen in this year’s approximate 30% increase in funding under the cycling/walking and sustainable urban transport programmes alone.”

The department indicated that the end-year figures for 2018 are currently being finalised and the projected is increase based on provisional outturn for 2018.

He said: “Those increases are separate to the additional funding being made available by Minister Ross under the Greenways Strategy and the continued and significant funding allocated toward the planning and design of 200km of cycle tracks/lanes as part of BusConnects, in Dublin initially, with the other cities to follow.”

The department spokesman said: “More broadly, Government is also allocating funding in 2019 for cycling under both the Urban and Rural Regeneration and Development Funds and the Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme (a scheme co-funded by Fáilte Ireland, the National Tourism Development Authority, which comes under the aegis of the Department). The scale of investment is unprecedented and will deliver a significantly enhanced environment for cycling in cities, towns and rural areas across the State.”

“A number of significant projects will commence construction across Dublin in 2019 and those projects are of course being funded as part of the allocations described above. In addition, the Department is supporting Dublin City Council as it hosts this year’s VeloCity Conference in June,” he said.

The spokesman for the department concluded: “The Minister is keenly aware of the need to ensure these significantly improved funding allocations are seen to deliver results and requested the NTA to establish a new cycling delivery office which will be established this year and bring an improved focus to delivery of cycling infrastructure.”

However, the motion and cycling campaigners have already said that the cycling office needed to be set at a higher level within in the Department of Transport itself, because the NTA does not have as wide of a remit by area or over policy and law.

Colm Ryder, chairman of Cyclist.ie said: “Cyclist.ie delighted with increased funding commitment, but it still remains well below the recommended level of 10% of Transport funding. Even with the increases made it still is only approximately 3% of transport funding.”

The motion, amended, as approved by Dáil Éireann:

This is the text of the motion proposed by Deputy Robert Troy and amended (text in italics) by the Green Party — The amendment was declared carried and the motion, as amended, agreed to by the house on Wednesday, 19 December 2018 it states that:

Dáil Éireann:

recognises:

  • the rapidly growing popularity of cycling as a means of transport, particularly in Ireland’s urban and suburban areas, as evidenced by recent Census figures and the popularity of schemes such as the dublinbikes public bicycle rental scheme;
  • the considerable health benefits that regular physical activity, such as cycling, brings to citizens and the need to promote such activity;
  • the high level of economic returns and value for money that cycling projects give;
  • that chronic congestion is grinding our cities and road arteries to a halt, making it more difficult and more unpleasant for people to get to work;
  • that cycling is a zero-carbon mode of transport and one which can help to reduce Ireland’s carbon emissions, as per our commitments at European Union and international level;
  • that Ireland lags behind our European peers in the provision of safe cycling infrastructure, such as dedicated cycle lanes, secure bike storage facilities and cyclist-friendly traffic lights;
  • the potential demonstrated in some other European countries with climates similar to, or more difficult, than Ireland, for cycling to be the dominant transport mode for short journeys and to greatly assist the use of public transport for long journeys; and
  • the potential demonstrated in some other European countries with climates similar to, or more difficult, than Ireland, for cycling to be the dominant transport mode for short journeys and to greatly assist the use of public transport for long journeys; and
  • that the largest cycling conference in the world is due to take place in Dublin in June 2019, and that Ireland needs to show progress on the development of cycling infrastructure;

condemns:

  • the considerable safety risks that cyclists face on Irish roads, owing to our poorly developed cycling infrastructure;
  • the failure of the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport to implement the Government policies, ‘Smarter Travel – A Sustainable Transport Future’ and the ‘National Cycling Policy Framework’;
  • the current low funding allocations for cycling at only approximately two per cent of the overall land transport capital budget; and
  • the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport’s failure to bring forward legislation requiring drivers to maintain a minimum distance when passing cyclists; and

calls on the Government to:

  • prioritise the rollout of dedicated cycle tracks, that are physically segregated from other road users, across the country;
  • place cycling infrastructure at the heart of transport infrastructure planning by appointing a dedicated cycling officer to every local authority at an appropriate level of seniority, and by establishing a dedicated cycling division within the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport to coordinate activity and projects across all departments;
  • introduce cycle friendly legislative initiatives, similar to those of our European neighbours to promote the growth of cycling, including contra-flow cycling, left turn at red lights and joint use of pedestrian crossings;
  • build on the successes of bike sharing schemes by expanding these schemes to major suburbs of towns and cities;
  • revise the Bike to Work scheme to allow commuters to purchase a new bike every three years instead of every five years, and to extend this scheme to pensioners and unemployed people;
  • ensure that ten per cent of transport funding is allocated to cycling
  • introduce immediate supplementary funding to local authorities to support the rollout of ‘quick win’ projects supporting safe cycling and walking routes in the short term; and
  • prioritise two cycling projects to be delivered in advance of Velo-City 2019.

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.

1 Comment

  1. Any chance of a change of minister before the velo conference.

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