#ClimatePlan2019 —10% transport funding for cycling promise given cautious welcome

— Too much focus on electric cars says climate experts.
— “No-modal-shift strategy of ‘cars to cars'” says environmental group.
— Fears expressed that BusConnects will be delayed.
— Government today defends large-scale road building environmentalists against.

Giving their first impressions of the Climate Action Plan released yesterday, cycling campaigners have said they are “delighted” with a mention of 10% of transport funding to be allocated to cycling but have reservations on if and what action will follow.

The day after releasing the Climate Action Plan, Fine Gael, the leading party in Government, have issued localised press releases promoting the idea that large-scale road building projects — claimed to be unsustainable by both environmentalists and transport experts as unsustainable — would only be built under their leadership.

Colm Ryder, a spokesman for Cyclist.ie, said “Cyclist.ie, as Ireland’s Cycling Advocacy Network has long been campaigning as a member of the Stop Climate Chaos coalition for radical moves on Climate Change. We are delighted to see the proposed 10% of transport funding commitment for cycling as part of this proposed action plan, having specifically campaigned for this in recent years.”

He added: “However, we will wait to see how this transfers to a reality on the ground, where real options are given to commuters and users generally to opt for the zero emission vehicle that is the bicycle, over other forms of transport.”

Stephen McManus, a spokesman for I Bike Dublin, a Dublin-focused campaign group, said: “I Bike Dublin cautiously welcomes the inclusion of 10% being spent on cycling. In the same way the Taoiseach recently declared the climate emergency declaration as symbolic, we have concerns that the same status could be given to this figure.”

He said: “It remains unclear why the plan refers to 10% of ‘current transport infrastructure plans’ rather than of ‘overall capital funding of transport’. There may be significantly different figures in each scenario.”

What the Climate Action Plan states on cycling funding:

“Recent reports show that there is a pattern of spending in cycling projects of 2:1 between planning vs building. This ratio needs to move dramatically towards the implementation side if improvements are to happen.”

McManus said: “This infrastructure investment needs to deliver integrated networks of segregated infrastructure suitable for people of all ages and abilities, from 8 to 80 years old. For experienced cyclists and for people who are just starting to be able to move safely in our cities.”

“All significant cycling infrastructure projects in Dublin appear to move at a painfully slow pace. The model for managing these projects is unsuitable for an action plan. The schedule for the implementation of cycling projects in the action plan reflects this limited ambition and unnecessary complexity applied on these projects,” he said.

McManus added: “On transportation, the plan fails by focusing on electric cars rather than giving absolute priority to public transport and active travel. Modern cities are removing private cars from the equation. The model of private cars in unsustainable due to lack of space and the impact of the quality of living of their inhabitants.”

I Bike Dublin said that the plan “will need to be revised” and pointed out that the Citizen’s Assembly recommendation of a 2:1 expenditure in public transport against road building – while maintaining the 10% allocation for cycling infrastructure and adding another 10% for walking and it said these targets need to be “included in a future revised version” of the action plan.

An Taisce, the environmental charity, said in a statement on its website: “On transport, what is needed, as identified by the recent Joint Oireachtas Report is a radical modal shift away from car-dependence and towards high quality public transport and dramatically upgraded cycling and pedestrian infrastructure. However, the government instead focuses on a no-modal-shift strategy of ‘cars to cars’ – with an improbable 950,000 electric vehicles to be on the roads by 2030.”

It added: “While this may ease some pollution and emissions problems, it will do nothing to address congestion, unsustainable commuting or many of the public health problems among both adults and children locked into sedentary, car-based lifestyles. Immediate measures to sharply increase the quality and frequency of public transport nationally, rapidly building cycling infrastructure, limit frequent flying and reduce car dependence and motorway speeds are the kinds of system changes now needed if we are in any way serious about treating this as a genuine ‘climate emergency’.”

Pro-public transport groups also have fears that the wording in the Action Plan that the BusConnects project to improve bus and cycle routes would be done on a phased basis.

The Dublin Yimby group said on Twitter: “So we’ve got a #ClimateEmergency but the #ClimatePlan2019 essentially fudges on the whole @BusConnects plan due to the same old political weakness. A #ClimateActionPlan that doesn’t *accelerate* public transport investment and planning is a disaster before it starts.”

The Dublin Commuter Coalition said on Twitter: “This is incredibly concerning to see in the #ClimatePlan2019. A network, by definition, only works if it’s implemented all at once. Piecemealing #BusConnects in phases will render it useless and kill it stone dead. @Shane_RossTD please clarify.”

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.

2 Comments

  1. I truly hope that the cycling infrastructure spending will be fully on cycling infrastructure and not wedged in with BusConnect or other public transport spending. The trend in Dublin seems to be that cycling changes are only considered when a public transport change is done. I do not believe cycling will improve with the BusConnect at all. How is sharing space between bicycles and busses seen as a sensible move? If not shared, bicycle lanes are added as an afterthought next to bus lanes. To be frank, I only cycle (plus motorcycle for journeys outside Dublin) and never take public transport. As a cyclist I could not care less what is done with busses in the city centre. To me they are noise stinky pieces of metal and do not belong in the city centre proper in the quantities seen now. It goes without saying that private cars (in which I include taxis) belong there even less.

  2. @ Sam. Buses don’t have to be stinky lumps of metal. Well, yes, they have to be mostly metal, but they can be electric. Also single-decker buses need less energy to move them than double-deckers so having more single-deckers as they do in European countries would be a good move.

    I also use a bike almost 100% of the time to get around Dublin, and only rarely use public transport. But not everyone is me, and buses and trains are definitely needed in the mix to transport people. Maybe some people could cycle 90% of the time but sometimes maybe they need other options such as when not feeling well, or when they’re with friends who can’t cycle etc. Options should be available for everyone. So I do care what happens with buses and trains.

    On the issue of the government policy document, I think it’s effectively more of the same. They propose having almost a million electric cars in 11 years time!! Utterly preposterous. It’s just nonsense. And even it this were an achievable goal, it’s still not tackling the issues we face. Deaths, injuries, fear of cars keeping people off rural roads, children having no autonomy because parents are too afraid to let them outside on their own, lack of exercise for the general population, unsustainable commuting culture, air-pollution will still be a factor due to road, tire and brake wear, massive resource use for the batteries, etc etc etc. It’s all just nonsense.

    And with regard to active travel – the document is woefully obscure on the details. Were any specific projects mentioned? Was the Greater Dublin Area cycle network mentioned? Any new proposals to link major towns and villages by new safe segregated cycle networks? No. It’s all smoke and mirrors from what I can see. Kicking the can down the road again and again. Shameful.

    And even today, the very next day after they release the document, we have members of Fine Gael on twitter trying to attack opposition parties who they say won’t be as dedicated to road building as they are in Fine Gael. It’s like watching something from Monty Python, except none of it is funny at all.

Leave a Reply

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

%d bloggers like this: