Spend 10% of transport budget on cycling says Oireachtas climate report

The Oireachtas climate report is seeking a timetable for the installation of dedicated cycling infrastructure, where lanes are kerb segregated where possible.

The Report on Addressing Climate Change in Ireland by the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action was published last week.

It said that the Department of Transport with local authorities, should “commence the full implementation of the National Cycle Policy Framework by 2020”.

It added: “In particular, every local authority should set forth a clear pathway and, in all urban areas; and that the DTTAS should also significantly increase funding in dedicated cycling infrastructure; In addition, in line with the motion of the Dáil on Promoting Cycling approved on 17th January, 2019, all current transport infrastructure programmes should immediately be revised to achieve at least 10% expenditure on facilitating cycling. “

Cyclist.ie — a group of most cycling campaigns in Ireland — said that it warmly welcomes the Oireachtas climate change report.

“This report is an important step on the path to decarbonising transport in Ireland. In particular, the cross-party recommendation for an allocation to cycling of 10% of transport investment is a momentous decision and when properly expended will ensure that the government delivers far ranging change not only in  carbon emissions but also in personal travel, health, congestion and air/noise pollution,” said Colm Ryder, chairman of Cyclist.ie.

The statement from Cyclist.ie said: “The Committee is to be highly commended for its prioritising of active travel by placing it front and centre in the transport section of the report. Transport policies often pay lip-service to active travel but rarely give it the serious consideration it deserves. We acknowledge the proposed government investment in active travel in cities and welcome its extension to larger towns across the country.”

At the Citizens Assembly on Climate Change, 92% of members voted to change transport funding priority away from new roads to public transport by a ratio of at least 2-to-1. But the Oireachtas Committee did not go that far at this stage — Cyclist.ie said that this was a regretful position to take and that there is “a risk of investment being misdirected”.

“The Committee acknowledges the impact of car travel on congestion and that the ‘do nothing’ scenario will only lead to increasing gridlock in our towns and cities. While it is accepted that the Committee has not considered school travel in depth, it is regrettable that efforts to deter school-run trips by car such as the closing of streets near schools to private car traffic have not been referenced,” said Cyclist.ie. The committee’s recommendation on school transport focuses on buses alone.

The Oireachtas committee’s report said the a review of electric car grants should include the “consideration of supporting or encouraging small and lightweight EVs including electric bicycles, tricycles, cargo bikes and small cars”. Cyclist.ie said that electric assist bicycles can be incentivised “at far less cost to the individual and to government”.

An EU-funded research programme found that just over 50% of all motorised trips in European cities involving the transport of goods could be shifted to bicycles or cargo bikes.

Cyclist.ie added: “We are happy to see the reference to trials of free public transport in a number of European cities, although it is disappointing that the report does not refer to the removal of hidden subsidies to car travel such as free parking at places of work, at shopping centres and in public areas. These areas need to be addressed.”

It said that the ultimate success of the report depends on how it informs the adoption of appropriate targets and on the monitoring and reporting of progress in Minister Richard Bruton’s  eagerly awaited All-of-Government Plan on Climate.

Priority recommendations of the Committee on transport

The following is text from the report outlining the recommendations of the Committee on transport:

The Committee notes that transport is a complex problem to address and that substantial further investigation shall be required by the Standing Committee, the Climate Action Council and the Government as part of the all of government approach. The Committee in accepting the recommendations of the Citizens’ Assembly makes the following initial recommendations:

  1. The urgent delivery of proposed investment under Project 2040 and other programmes in low carbon and zero-carbon modes of transport including major public transport infrastructure works, commencing in 2019 and calls for these and additional similar projects to be prioritised and expanded.

  2. That the DTTAS review and bring forward a revised implementation plan for the outstanding policies and actions in its existing 2009-2020 policy Smarter Travel, A Sustainable Transport Future in time for Budget 2020

  3. The DTTAS, together with local authorities, should commence the full implementation of the National Cycle Policy Framework by 2020. In particular,

    • i. Every local authority should set forth a clear pathway and timetable for the installation of dedicated cycling infrastructure, where lanes are kerb segregated where possible, in all urban areas;
    • ii. the DTTAS should also significantly increase funding in dedicated cycling infrastructure; In addition, in line with the motion of the Dáil on Promoting Cycling approved on 17th January, 2019, all current transport infrastructure programmes should immediately be revised to achieve at least 10% expenditure on facilitating cycling.
  4. All cities with a population exceeding 75,000 should produce a sustainable transport plan (or a revised plan where one is already in existence) by no later than June 2020 for review by the NTA and DTTAS. In particular, all plans should:

    • i) be in line with emissions reductions for 2021-2025 consistent with the first carbon budget (see Chapter 1) ii) provide for a significant shift from private vehicle and road freight use, to intermodal solutions which include bus, rail, cycling and waterways; and
    • iii) integrate all public transport modes, community transport schemes, private transport operations and lift-sharing schemes. The Government must ensure that the sustainable transport plans and associated investment decisions are consistent with the Smarter Travel policy and that a dedicated multi annual budget be provided for the respective sustainable transport plans.
  5. There is a need for fast, frequent, cheap and reliable public rail connections between our major urban centres. In that regard, a rail infrastructure capacity review is needed and the DTTAS and Iarnród Éireann are requested to provide a strategy paper outlining all feasible options and associated investment implications by September 2019 to the Standing Committee.

  6. The DTTAS, with other relevant Departments and agencies, should undertake a review of policy to expand the rural transport programme to include all transport modes to provide integrated public transport and shared mobility solutions105 for all rural areas together with local authorities. This review should lead to a new rural transport strategy which should:

    • a. include a comprehensive assessment of rural travel demand, and methodologies for determining same; b. set a target for modal shift and emissions reductions for 2021-2025 consistent with the first Carbon Budget (see Chapter 1);
    • c. proposals for an integrated public transport network (to include Local Link, Bus Éireann, private bus operators and the school bus service) with all ancillary services (park and ride, bike hire, EV charging, lift sharing etc.) to be completed no later than 2030 with a view to providing comprehensive linked services for all rural areas; and
    • d. develop a pilot scheme for a city and its regional hinterland to develop a best practice model. (Section 10.6)
  7. There is a need to better support the transition to zero emission vehicles. In this regard the following actions are required:

    • a. The Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment should accelerate the roll-out of a national fast-charging network aided by the Climate Action Fund and there should be a more ambitious roll out of EV charging infrastructure in accordance with the planned increases in EV numbers by 2030.

    • b. In order to encourage early adoption in a cost effective manner, the SEAI and DTTAS should ensure regular reviews of the need for existing grants, incentives and supports available for EVs (subject to the qualifications given in Chapter 6 in relation to grants versus low cost loans purchase) and examine the possibility of scrappage support for petrol and diesel vehicles. These reviews should include consideration of supporting or encouraging small and lightweight EVs including electric bicycles, tricycles, cargo bikes and small cars.

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.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: