Ireland’s climate minister argues against walking and cycling funding

— Opposition to funding despite Dail vote and climate report calling for higher funding for cycling alone.

Ireland’s climate minister, Richard Bruton, has argued against investing 10% of transport infrastructure funding in walking and cycling, according to a report in The Sunday Times yesterday.

Minister Bruton’s lack of interest in cycling goes against an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report which highlighted a switch to cycling as a means of climate emission reduction.

IMAGE: File image of Richard Bruton. 

The senior Fine Gael minister and, Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, is claimed to have made the comments in relation to Government formation talks between Fine Gael, Fianna Fail and Green Party.

The Sunday Times reported: “The Greens want 10%, or about €450m, of the transport capital budget allocated to cycleways and walking infrastructure. Richard Bruton, the energy minister, has pointed out that just 2% of Irish people regularly cycle while 80% use cars.”

Bruton’s opposition is despite the Green Party seeking the same funding for cycling as agreed in a Fianna Fail-proposed Dail motion, and in an all-party climate change report.

While Green Party sources would not comment on the on-going negotiations, it is understood that the party is seeking 10% of the transport capital budget for cycling and another 10% for walking as per a letter sent to Leo Varadkar and Micheál Martin before the talks started.

A UN report recommended “at least 20%” for walking and cycling, and 10% for cycling alone was recommended a Parliamentary vote in January 2019 and followed up by the all-party Report on Addressing Climate Change in Ireland published in April 2019.

A 2016 United Nations Environment Programme report, ‘Global outlook on walking and cycling’, said that countries should: “Set aside at least 20% of the total transport budget to fund NMT (non-motorised user) programmes at national and city level. Measure the measurable goals, then collect the data you need and evaluate your success.”

Last year, the Report on Addressing Climate Change, by the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action, said: “In particular, every local authority should set forth a clear pathway and, in all urban areas; and that the DTTAS (Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport) 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.”

EDITED: Article edited to include clarity of what is understood to be the differences between that it was reported the Minister said and the Green Party position of looking for 10% funding for walking and 10% for cycling.

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.

8 Comments

  1. Oisín O'Connor June 8, 2020 at 8:26 am

    More damaging to the prospect of government formation than any leadership contest.

  2. We should be funding an Ireland we want to have not the Ireland we have already.

  3. He will quickly change his mind as soon as he finds out that the money will actually be used to restrict the use of bicycles to pop-up bikeways on streets that do not yet have bikeways, thus removing all these annoying bicycles out of the way of the cars and increasing the flow for the cars.

  4. Mike McKillen June 8, 2020 at 10:11 am

    This doesn’t surprise me as there is a undercurrent of belief running through government that we have to continue to build more roads rather than shift focus to safer cycling and walking infrastructure. The proponents of this mass concrete pouring know that it provides a lot of construction jobs and curries favour with constituents. When finished there is the ribbon-cutting photo op too.

  5. @Ingo — I know you might be anti-cycling infrastructure in general but there has to be a starting point. Councillors etc will hopefully see the temporary lanes aren’t wide enough.

  6. €450m is not 10%; the total transport capital budget for 2020 is €1800m

  7. Richard Bruton is a dinosaur. Totally out of touch.

  8. Anna Poly Anna July 9, 2020 at 9:30 pm

    Finland tried a v large public health experiment that included incentives funding and infrastructure overhauls through local councils -but to make people healthier. Over 13% of schoolchildren cycle to school…even in winter in -10c. If you replaced a bus footprint with a footprint of cyclists who could join routes in bus lanes as groups would be interesting experiment. We have some like this in Galway in my area. Cycle shelters for rain/wind breaks … subsidised wet weather gear, buy back recycle schemes, etc. In one locality they taught assertive cycling courses to teach new road cyclists to be more confident/less accident prone. 840,000 electric cars by 2025 sounds ambitious if also encouraging more work from home initiatives.
    I would love to cycle more-very stranded since Covid- non driver, no bus service near us now and a Carer for another. No grants for us to cycle/buy an electric bike. I would need a pedal assist due to health hills and asthma but these are a big outlay upfront.

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