Technical and financial support is being offered to councils across Ireland for walking and cycling infrastructure to aid social distancing.
According to a Department of Transport press release, the National Transport Authority (NTA) has written to all 31 local authorities to “offer technical and financial support to review their current street arrangements in order to address the new circumstances arising from social distancing requirements and altered travel patterns”.
UPDATED: On funding, the Department of Transport told IrishCycle.com that “The funding is being made available from within the Department’s existing sustainable mobility investment programme…”.
In a statement, transport Minister Shane Ross said: “In recent weeks we’ve all had to reassess how space should be shared in our cities and towns to better reflect the needs of pedestrians and cyclists. As we move through the Roadmap to Reopen Society and Business we need to increase the numbers of people walking and cycling each day and we need to keep them safe while doing that.”
“Improving our infrastructure is crucial so that people will feel confident about choosing to walk or cycle while enabling social distancing. I would particularly ask motorists to take note of extra cyclists on the road and ensure that they give them space and consideration,” he said.
Minister Ross added: “The NTA’s support will benefit local authorities across the country as they look to support their local communities and businesses in the coming weeks and months. By improving pedestrian and cycling infrastructure we can help those people who need to return to work choose active travel as their preferred mode of transport. Better infrastructure will also facilitate social distancing within towns and cities and support the reopening of shops and businesses under the Roadmap.”
Anne Graham, CEO of the NTA, said: “The NTA wishes to offer both technical and financial support to local authorities who want to introduce on-street measures to assist in enabling cities and towns to function under the new set of circumstances.
“This is about local authorities providing space for safe movement of people and business activities, and is also about accommodating the changed transport patterns,” she said.
Graham added: “The NTA will be in a position to grant aid in full, various proposals subject of course, to those proposals being agreed in advance of implementation. We are conscious that such measures are required urgently in various places which is why the process of NTA agreement and funding will be simple and fast.”
The press release said that the NTA’s technical and financial support will be funded by the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport’s sustainable mobility investment programme and will include delivery of measures such as:
- “Widening of footpaths to facilitate queuing outside shops and enable social distancing;“
- “Potential pedestrianisation of some streets where necessary and feasible to accommodate social distancing, particularly where this supports business activities;“
- “Potential one-way systems to create space for footpath widening;”
- “Altering traffic signal times to reduce pedestrian waiting/crowding plus the automatic activation of some pedestrian phases in order to aid pedestrian movement and to minimise contact with signal push buttons;“
- “Providing additional temporary facilities for cyclists;”
- “Provision of some external space where appropriate to support business activities.”
On funding, a Department of Transport spokesperson said: “The funding is being made available from within the Department’s existing sustainable mobility investment programme and is not additional to the approximate €708m total funding detailed in the Revised Estimates for Public Services to support the programme in 2020. Funding requirements will depend on the number and nature of requests received by the NTA from local authorities and will be managed accordingly from within available funding. Details regarding specific projects are a matter for the relevant local authority.”