— Resurfacing funding includes general traffic lanes and bus lanes.
— Segregated routes promised but little clarity on details of many listed upgrades.
Over the weekend the National Transport Authority and transport minister Eamon Ryan announced that funding of €55 million mainly for walking and cycling — it is still unclear what percentage of the funding will be spend on substantial measures such as segregated cycle routes.
The wide-ranging funding includes for resurfacing of roads, footpath renewal, lightly segregating cycle lanes, installing speed limit signs, walking and cycling crossings, bicycle parking, bus shelters, anti-skid treatment added to surfaces, and, in one case, automatic retractable bollards. All for projects which can be finished by the end of 2020.
Some of the funding is not directly for walking and cycling, such as road resurfacing which is listed as being included as cycling will benefit from better road surfaces. The funding is wide ranging so at this point we cannot firmly establish how much of the funding will be spent on firmer measures such as segregation of cycle tracks.
The headline to the funding announcement press release said that “NTA Allocates €55m to Councils for Cycling and Walking Projects Under July Jobs Stimulus Plan” while the opening paragraph said “The National Transport Authority has allocated funding totalling €55m to 547 projects in 11 counties to support pedestrian and cyclist movement and to enhance accessibility in cities, towns and villages” — the mention of “and to enhance accessibility” opens the scope for the funding being spent more broadly than walking and cycling.
The Dublin City Council section of the funding for example has a number of entries for resurfacing. One of the entries of €2.3 million states it is for “Resurfacing = 51,275m², of which c. 4,715m² relates to cycle lane and/or shared bus and cycle lane maintenance” — that means only 9.1% of the €2.3 million is for cycling and much of that is shared with buses.
The second largest amount of funding for Dublin City is for €650,000 of resurfacing. The entry for this stated: “Resurfacing = 19,000m² (of which 1,750m² relates to shared bus and cycle lane)” — meaning 9.2% of such funding is going to space in some way marked out for cycling, including space shared with buses.
Where the funding details mentions cycle lanes or tracks, it’s unclear what quality such will be. Much of the COVID-19 Mobility Measures have been mixed, with some councils adding segregation to sub-standard cycle lanes which are widely viewed as too narrow for segregation.
The full breakdown is contained in a spreadsheet published by the NTA — Stimulus Programme Allocations 2020. The funding was open to councils in the Greater Dublin Area and the metropolitan areas of Cork, Galway, Limerick and Waterford. The funding breakdown by council is as follows:
- Dublin City Council – €12,065.000
- Limerick City & County Council – €9,988,000
- Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council – €8,986.067
- Cork City Council – €4,000,000
- Fingal County Council – €3,890,000
- Wicklow County Council – €3,342,350
- Meath County Council – €3,105,000
- Galway City Council – €3,001,000
- South Dublin County Council – €2,440,995
- Waterford City & County Council – €2,347,500
- Kildare County Council – €1,840,000
In the announcement press release, Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan said: “One of the priorities for this government when we took office in June was to respond to the economic difficulties brought about by the Covid crisis. We immediately turned our attention to the putting together a package of measures that would go some way to rebooting the economy.”
He continued: “The projects that the NTA is funding will make a real difference at local level when it comes to improving infrastructure for cycling, walking and will make our cities, towns and villages more accessible and attractive for everyone. That’s good news for local communities, and good news for the economy. I look forward to seeing these projects coming to fruition in the weeks and months ahead.”
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Minister of State, with responsibility for International and Road Transport and Logistics, Hildegarde Naughton said: “The allocations being made today will go a long way in delivering a safe and sustainable environment for active travel in our villages, towns and cities. Travel to work, school or the local shop on two wheels instead of four will see an uplift from this much needed and timely financial endorsement by the Government.”
She added: “I look forward to continuing to work with our local authorities as they continue on their journey to accelerate sustainable travel in the coming weeks and months through this fund and beyond.”
Dublin Cycling Campaign, in a statement on its website, said that it “…welcomes the €27.4M in funding announced by the National Transport Authority. This funding is to support pedestrian and cyclist movement across Dublin.”
It added: “The coronavirus has dramatically changed the way people move around our city. More people are walking and cycling and there is less capacity on public transport. This funding will provide new and improved facilities for people walking and cycling. This will create more space for social distancing and provide thousands of Dubliners with new travel options.”
Referring to the possable removal of a segregation cycle route on Shannon Bridge in Limerick, the Limerick Cycling Campaign said: “With €1,100,000 assigned to the segregation of the cyle lanes on the Condell Road it would hardly be advisable to remove segregation on the bridge crossing at the end of that road. There are teams within Limerick Council working hard to join the dots. They need to be supported!”