Green TD and campaigners call on Ryan to intervene in “outdated” Limerick transport strategy

— Strategy is 4th city plan with National Transport Authority involvement claimed not to comply with national transport or climate targets on cycling.

Minister for Transport and Climate Change Eamon Ryan is being called by the Limerick Cycling Campaign and a local Green Party TD to pause the consultation for the Limerick/Shannon Metropolitan Transport Strategy and withdraw the current draft pending a full ministerial review.

Despite cross-party support for 10% investment in cycling and a Government promise for radical change in transport, the new plan sets a lower 4% target for the share of cycling at peak times in 2040 than was the failed 10% national target for 2020. For a national target on cycling to be reached it is expected cities would account for a large percentage.

A spokesperson for the Department of Transport, responding to the calls for review, said this morning: “The Department of Transport encourages the public and stakeholders to take part in this Public Consultation by the NTA which aims to shape the overall transport strategy for the Limerick Shannon Metropolitan Area and deliver transport improvements to the region. As with every public consultation all feedback and opinion is welcomed.”

For now, public consultation on the draft Strategy for the Limerick Shannon Metropolitan Area Transport Strategy (LSMATS) will continue until October 16, but critics of the strategy have outlined why a review is needed given that the plan is so out of line with national policy on climate and transport.

Green Party TD Brian Leddin said: “I’ve been reading the Limerick-Shannon Metropolitan Area Transport Strategy (LSMATS). Unfortunately it really doesn’t reflect the ambition many of us have for the region. Nor does it align with government policy to bring about an ‘unprecedented modal shift’ in transport.”

He added: “There are glaring omissions and gaps, and I’ve concerns about the modelling exercise that underpins it. Right now, I think the process should be paused and a full review carried out. Ultimately the strategy must set targets and map a route to achieving them, not the other way round.”

The Limerick Cycling Campaign issued a statement this morning calling on the climate change and transport minister and Green Party leader Eamon Ryan to intervene.

In a statement the Limerick Cycling Campaign said: “The current draft is outdated and flawed… The plan is not aligned with climate change legislation, it is not aligned with the programme for government and is limited in its vision to guide Limerick to 2040.”

The campaign said: “It’s a retread of the transport strategies that have failed Cork and Galway and is focused on increasing car traffic on our streets by 28% which will cause gridlock within our city. We deserve an ambitious plan with a forward-thinking and holistic vision for Limerick at its centre that empowers everyone who lives, works, plays, cycles, scoots, drives and rides bus or rail in our city.”

“The current draft of LSMATS is already over a year old. It comes from a time before the Climate Plan 2019, before the Programme for Government and before the health crisis of Covid-19. The current draft does not address the needs of Limerick in 2020 and does not provide a comprehensive strategy to bring us to 2040,” the campaign said. 

The campaign said that the current public consultation won’t be enough as the gap is too far to close.

The group said: “A bad plan in draft form can only become a bad plan with some tweaks after consultation. The gap is simply too far to close. This is especially concerning when public consultation is hampered by public health restrictions and a lack of access to the consultation process for so many of our citizens. A ministerial review will also allow time for meaningful engagement with all stakeholders and the general public to take place.”

They continued: “The need for a review is urgent as we’ve seen how limited plans such as the Cork and Galway transport strategies have failed to meaningfully engage in consultation. Despite huge amounts of submissions by the public very little changed from the first draft to final plan. To think that LSMATS consultation will be treated any differently would be very shortsighted.

It said that the pressure to deliver is on Minister Ryan and that he “has a strong history of advocating for better active, public and sustainable transport.”

It added: “If LSMATS is reviewed and redrafted into a plan that reflects his party’s policy it has the potential to transform our city to the betterment of everyone over the coming two decades and beyond. As the first significant transport strategy to arrive from the Minister, it falls significantly short of the standards he has previously set. We urgently call on him to bring his lifelong commitment to improving transport for all to his new ministry and allow him, his government colleagues and all our Limerick members of Dáil Eireann to come together to ensure Limerick isn’t left behind yet again. Limerick deserves better.“

Meanwhile an artist’s impression image used by the National Transport Authority has also been criticised as not possible which local FG Cllr Daniel Butler said “Hardly inspires confidence”.

https://twitter.com/danielbutlerfg/status/1305544846476750855?s=21

CORRECTION: The start of the quote from the Limerick Cycling Campaign in the 8th paragraph in this article originally stated: “The current draft is outdated and flawed in its modelling data and its targets. Bus passenger numbers were taken from June 2009 in the middle of the recession.” This has been changed to “The current draft is outdated and flawed in its targets.” It is now accepted that the 2009 data was used to calibrate and validate the regional traffic model, but was not the baseline data for LSMATS. The base year used for LSMATS is 2016, the most recent Census year. IrishCycle.com is happy to make this correction.

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.

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