What is described as the “only notable improvement to cycling infrastructure in the city” since Limerick City and County Council were given €10 million of the Government funding has been removed.
The funding was part of the July stimulus funding which was supposed to been spent on projects built this year, but now the council has pushed the deadline out to early next year.
The council has yet to provide reasoning for the removal of the plastic wand bollards protecting the cycle track on Wickham Street. Last year, the council raised cycle track on the street, but the illegal parking continued and bollards were added just weeks ago in another attempt to curb the illegal parking.
Reacting to the removal of the bollards, Cllr Conor Sheehan said: “This is very disappointing. These bollards only needed to be installed because a minority of feckless motorists took it upon themselves to constantly park in the cycle lane.”
Eoin Buckley, a campaigner with Pedestrian Limerick, tweeted: “My son uses this route to get to school. I find out tonight that in the darkest month of the year the safety wands that were installed only a few days ago have been removed? It’s absolutely crazy.
They are needed to protect people on bikes from cars driving and parking in this lane.”
Speaking to IrishCycle.com, Conor Buckley, chairperson of the Limerick Cycling Campaign said: “We haven’t received an explanation as to why the wands were removed.”
He said: “Limerick received €10 million in July stimulus funding. This is significantly more than other regional cities.”
Buckley explains how the July funding exceeds the funding which was provided Smarter Travel projects between 2012 and 2016, a project aimed at getting people walking and cycling but widely seen as underfunded.
“To put €10 million into context for Limerick, that is more than the Limerick Smarter Travel budget. This money was to be spent in 2020. This was great news back in August as Limerick falls far behind other Irish cities with regards safe cycling infrastructure,” said Buckley.
He said: “The addition of wands on Wickham Street was the only notable improvement to cycling infrastructure in the city since this budget was announced. Wickham street serves as a busy cycling route that connects the east of the city to the busy milk market, down to the river path out to the university. To see cycling infrastructure being removed is very concerning.”
He said that there are multiple loading bays on either end of the street and that it’s hard to understand why the protection on this cycle lane has been removed in such illegal parking blackspot.
“The lack of intent around the implementation of cycling infrastructure in Limerick is extremely concerning. We have received significant funding yet we are not seeing the progress that is happening in other cities. There seems to be a real shortfall when it comes to delivery and implementation particularly in the city,” Buckley said.
He added: “We have recently been told the Sitmiulas funding will be extended to March, If it is not spent by then we assume it will be sent back.”
A sample of the other reaction online:
1/ The facilitation of loading is a vital consideration in the operations of any busy city. Why are @LimerickCouncil removing loading bays to facilitate parking and removing protected cycle lanes to facilitate loading? The lack holistic planning here is extremely concerning. pic.twitter.com/mjF7nUrR2M— Limerick Cycling (@LimerickCycling) December 10, 2020
Recently installed bollards on a section of the cycle lane on Wickham Street were removed today, reverting back to just paint. Why is this happening? https://t.co/6c9UH5A7G0 pic.twitter.com/bxl7R8X4ij— Gareth Cash (@gareth_cash) December 9, 2020
I have never seen a country with so many wands all over the place as here in Ireland. This is also the country I know of with the most illegal parking. It is clear what really is needed: a change in the mindset of most car owners that they cannot just park wherever they want. It is clear this cannot be accomplished with a friendly awareness campaign. We need some true leadership and one agency that is responsible. Now too many initiatives are handled with too many councils, agencies, boards, etc involved. But of course nothing will happen without enforcement and there again Ireland is lagging behind most other countries. Try to park illegally in most other European cities and your car will be towed without hesitation. I would like to see this happen here sooner than later.
WTF is going on!!? Limerick Council need to explain why this decision was made, and who authorised it? What are Dept of Transport saying about this attitude to use of their funding?