Minister Ryan replies to CyclingForAll.ie

CyclingForAll.ie has received a reply from transport and climate Minister Eamon Ryan after writing to him at end of August highlighting how there is a high-risk that million of Euro will be wasted without renewed focus on vision, policy, design guidance and standards, and legislation to support Cycling For All.

This update is being published for transparency. CyclingForAll.ie will be further writing to Minsiter Ryan as authorities and councils are continuing to produce low-quality designs and the Minister needs to urgently act to stop this.

The original letter to Minister Ryan, dated August 27 and supported by 28 cycling and related groups across Ireland, is jammed-packed. But, basically, it asks for Minister Ryan to:

  • Issue interim design standards
  • Integrate all cycling standards into an expanded DMURS
  • Fund only high-quality projects
  • Focus on demonstration areas, and strategic network plans
  • Set up a national oversight committee
  • Take funding back where needed

As there was no reply forthcoming at the time, CyclingForAll.ie further asked the Minister for an update on September 20. The Minister replied on September 24. His reply in full is below.

Minister Ryan’s reply:

Dear Mr. Ginty,

Thank you for your correspondence regarding the need for urgent action to address the quality of provision for walking and cycling, and I have noted the concerns raised in your correspondence. I have outlined my response below to each point raised in your correspondence.

1. Issue interim standards & 2. Integrate all cycling standards into an expanded DMURS

You will be interested to know that my Department is currently undertaking a piece work in relation to the various safety standards and guidelines that apply in relation the development and delivery of cycling infrastructure. There is currently some overlap and interaction between such guidelines which suggests a need to improve their coordination and implementation to avoid potential conflicts and to provide for a consistent and integrated approach to the quality of new cycling infrastructure. My officials along with representatives from the NTA, Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) and the County and City Management Association (CCMA) are in the process of forming a Co-ordination Group, with the first meeting to be held this month, to help facilitate this coordination. Moreover, I have asked officials in my department to examine how more effective auditing and oversight of projects can be achieved to ensure that the high quality, well designed infrastructure that is desirable can be consistently delivered.

3. Fund only high quality projects

You are likely aware that the Programme for Government – Our Shared Future sets out an ambitious and wide-ranging set of commitments in relation to active travel, supported by an increased multi-annual budgetary allocation amounting to some €1.8 billion over the lifetime of the Government. I agree there is a need to ensure that the type of investment planned in the coming years delivers high-quality, safe and segregated infrastructure that will attract more and more people to make the switch from the private car and toward a more sustainable, healthy mode of transport, such as cycling.

I think there are three critically important aspects to our collective plans in this area –

A revision of the National Cycle Manual;

Improved and expanded training of relevant stakeholders in relation to cycle design; and

Adequate resourcing of local authorities.

I am pleased to say there is work underway or planned in relation to all three aspects.

The National Transport Authority (NTA) have commenced its review of the National Cycle Manual with a revised Manual expected to be available by end 2021 or very early next year at the latest.

Development of the revised Manual will be accompanied by an extensive training programme to ensure its revised and improved standards are understood and disseminated widely across the sector.

In relation to resourcing I communicated to the County and City Management Association (CCMA) in January 2021 that extra resources for local authorities and the National Roads Offices (NROs) would be funded by the Department of Transport to progress the delivery of Active Travel projects around the country. Recruitment processes have begun by individual Local Authorities and will continue throughout 2021.

4. Focus on demonstration areas and strategic network plans: In relation to pilots and trials I am both looking at a range of legislative options in this area and in particular the role of community and stakeholder involvement as well as looking at strengthening guidelines to support this.

5. Set up a National Oversight Committee: As above, I have established a Department-led National Guidelines and Standards Oversight and Co-ordination Group to review the range of documents across all agencies and to develop a coherent plan to identify and address gaps, to improve integration and co-ordination and delivery, including training for practitioners. This includes the necessary compliance procedures and practices to ensure consistency and quality in delivery and maintenance. As part of its work, the Group will engage with stakeholders and I would encourage you to do so when the opportunity arises.

6. Take funding back, where needed:As Minister for Transport I have responsibility for policy and overall funding in relation to public transport including Active Travel. The National Transport Authority (NTA) is responsible for the development and implementation of public transport and active travel infrastructure, allocating the funding provided by my Department at project level and working in conjunction with the relevant local authorities. 

It must be emphasised that state-funded projects must comply with approved standards and guidelines including procedures to ensure consistency and satisfactory quality.  In addition compliance with the Public Spending Code is also required. In instances where there are consistent issues with the quality or speed of delivery of projects, my Department will work with the NTA to explore all options available to us to ensure compliance with the necessary standards, guidelines and the PSC; the option of withholding funding from local authorities is but one available and may indeed be considered going forward.

7. Review Speed Limits to support infrastructure: I am particularly conscious of road safety matters and how the network supports the full range of users including cyclists and pedestrians.  In line with Government commitments, I am currently looking at options to carry out a review of the framework for the setting of speed limits in Ireland which would include the use of a default 30-km/h speed limit in urban areas.  The Road Traffic Act 2004 sets out default speed limits for the road network for which local authorities have the discretion to decide on varying these limits through Special Speed Limit bye-laws for roads within their administrative area. The making of such bye-laws is a reserved function of the elected members of the council. To assist local authorities in the application of Special Speed Limits, my Department’s Guidelines for Setting and Managing Speed Limits in Ireland is available on www.speedlimits.ie website.  This applies to all roads and provides guidelines to local authorities as to how to decide appropriate speed limits.

I trust that the above answers your queries. I cannot overstate the value of receiving correspondence from advocacy groups such as Cycling for All in order to ensure our policy and funding decisions result in tangible, useful results for the cycling and pedestrian communities. I would encourage you to continue to engage with my Department and the relevant local authorities on such matters, and in the meantime I can assure you that the provision of safe, connected and efficient cycling and walking infrastructure is a key priority for the Government. 

With best wishes,

Eamon Ryan
Minister for Transport

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