WATCH: What Shane Ross says about funding for cycling when a constituent asks

— Campaigners say cycling funding amounts to around 2-3% of the capital budget for transport.

Transport Minister Shane Ross is known to go door-to-door to talk to his constituents, reportedly at strange times like at Christmas, but what happens when constituent is a cycling campaigner with an awkward question?

That’s what happened yesterday when Minister Ross was knocking on doors in the housing estate where south Dublin-based cycling campaigner Oisín O’Connor lives:

Minister Ross states in the video that it’s hard to calculate, but campaigners have previously estimated that cycling funding amounts to around 2-3% of the capital budget for transport.

The capital budget refers to the amount spent on new infrastructure, it doesn’t for example include maintenance.

In the short clip Minister Ross states “you can’t do it” in reference to figuring out the percentage spent on cycling, before backtracking stating “it’s not exactly” possible to know.

Minister Ross said funding for cycling was “going up”. But when O’Connor mentions the UN recommendation for 20% of the capital budget to be spent walking and cycling, Ross starts to take issue with the video being recorded.

The conversation remains good natured even when the minister asks about it being recorded, but then it starts to get more evasive and walks off promising to get back to him.

O’Connor explained: “He is in my estate knocking on doors. I was passing by and got talking to him. Decided to ask him a question that he’s been dodging elected representatives and civil society groups on. Including 16 out of 40 DLR councillors and my other local TD.”

He added: “So he ran away from me asking him a transport funding question to knock on doors of empty houses. One person answered door and didn’t want to talk to him. He walked right by me with some fluff about talking to me later.”

A common observation from media commentators and opposition politicians is that Minister Ross is too focused on areas outside his ministry.

The minister is also known to be fond of photo opportunities — one of which recently got him in trouble when he posed with his new electric car beside a car charger which has never worked.

Here’s a slightly longer version of the video which shows how Minister Ross seems to have been looking at the camera before the awkward question was asked:

O’Connor says how much a city or country really cares about cycling can be understood by looking at the amount of money allocated:

Reacting, the Galway Cycling Campaign asks: “Is @Shane_RossTD (1) uninformed about how his own department allocates its funds, or (2) reluctant to admit that they allocate nowhere near the equitable and sustainable funding for walking and cycling recommended by the UN: 20% of capital transport budget? Judge for yourself…”

The Cork Cycling Campaign also reacted on Twitter:

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. Ask him anything about any subject outside of his own department and he will expound at length and chase any camera to get noticed. I cant remember any other minister interfering in so much that had nothing to do with him. The sooner he is gone the better for everyone .This man is a total waste of space.

  2. What did you expect Oisin? This is the idiot who appointed TII/NRA to deliver cycling infrastructure in this country. He appointed them even after their fiasco in Galway in 2015.

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