— Road engineers are needed but Limerick would benefit from wider focus, said Limerick Cycling Campaign.
Campaigners have said that Limerick City and County Council would benefit from employing a transport planner and a gender specialist in senior positions as part of the walking and cycling funding announcement made at the start of 2021.
Campaigners at the Limerick Cycling Campaign have said while that they welcome funding from Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan to create 25 new jobs for Limerick’s Active Travel Unit, but it says that multidisciplinary teams are needed.
The group said that while road engineers play an integral part in the delivery of active and sustainable transport infrastructure that a transport planner would support this work by providing an overarching view that ensures what is delivered meets the needs of the community.
The Limerick Cycling Campain said: “Currently, there are no positions within the active travel unit for or a Transport Planner with expertise delivering sustainable transport networks or a Gender Equality Specialist with expertise in assessing and delivering inclusive infrastructure. This is a concern.”
“A key part of the minister’s approach is a focus on multidisciplinary teams bringing in a wider range of skills and viewpoints to the development of active and sustainable transport infrastructure,” the campaign said.
On the transport planner role, the group said: “Limerick city reports some of the lowest numbers in the country for school trips, work commutes and general utility trips by bike. For far too long we have delivered piecemeal infrastructure that is incoherent and ineffective. The role of a transport planner is to provide a wide overview in order to assign resources to where they will be most effective in delivering change.
On the Gender Equality Specialist role, the Limerick Cycling Campaign points to the ‘Travelling in a Woman’s Shoes’ report by Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) which found that transport is often seen as gender-neutral, but women and men can have different needs, constraints and expectations for using transport.
“It is in this context that the Limerick Cycling Campaign recommends that one of the newly created roles is ring-fenced for a gender equality specialist, a candidate with expertise in equality, transport accessibility and specifically how transport decisions affect women (but also children, persons with a disability, ethnic minority groups, under-served communities and older people),” the group said.
It added: “A gender equality specialist would operate at all levels, together with identified personnel in the new Limerick active travel regional office, conceptualising, engaging, designing and implementing active travel measures that consider gender, ethnicity and socio-economic needs. Limerick’s active travel unit would benefit from a professional experience in identifying entrenched gender norms, and how they are manifested in the physical design of our streets and spaces and how that differs for women.”
The campaign pointed to Caroline Criado Perez, a bestselling author and campaigner, who said in her book Invisible Women, that the hidden gender bias in transport decision-making stems from the lack of data we collect on women and not collecting data on women’s travel patterns, therefore, tells an incomplete story.