— Funding for route selection of ring and orbital roads in Cork included as “active travel”.
— It includes millions on road projects with “token cycle lanes on the side”.
“Active Travel” means walking, cycling and things like a push scooter, but the Department of Transport and National Transport Authority has confusingly expanded its meaning to include bus, traffic management and even road projects.
Minister for Transport and Green Party leader Eamon Ryan said on Monday that he was funding walking and cycling infrastructure in 2022 to the tune of €289 million. But spreadsheets released to the media detail projects totalling nearly €388 million, including public transport and road capacity projects.
Unlike previous years the media were given a copy of the spreadsheet with the figures for funding by project omitted. However, Government party members shared spreadsheets with the figures included.
“It’s been transformative, the way it has changed Blackrock Village and, in my mind, the entire coast south of here,” said Minister Ryan referring to Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council’s Coastal Mobility Route when talking to a small number of journalists on Monday.
He added: “Low cost, the money was spent on good quality surfacing and very simple street changes, take out a lane of traffic. When I was talking about how we need to accelerate now, it’s exactly that type of delivery. It doesn’t have to be all bells and whistles…”
However, while the funding — which is outlined in full in this spreadsheet — is listed as “2022 Active Travel Allocations”, it includes part or full funding roads and bus projects, including early-stage funding of €125,000 for the “Southern Orbital Route Selection” and €100,000 for the “Northern Distributor Road Route Selection”, two roads projects in Cork City.
It is understood that the “Active Travel” fund is effectively a rebranding of what was previously called the Sustainable Transport Measures Grants (STMG) programme, which included both active travel and small-scale public transport projects. But a number of sources across the country were still baffled by the inclusion of what are widely seen as road projects.
The funding on Monday clearly includes at least part-funding for roads projects such as €2 million for the Snugborough / N3 interchange overbridge road widening project in Dublin 15, and €1.1 million for the “Monahan Road Extension” in the Cork Docklands which was described by one local as “a new dual carriageway with token cycle lanes on the side”.
On the Monahan Road scheme in Cork, Cllr Dan Boyle (Green Party), last year, said: “The active travel elements appear to be added extras rather the main focus of what this scheme should be. The multi-lane road proposals will work towards encouraging and increasing car dependency in this area.”
He said that it was “diametrically the opposite of the strategy promoted in Cork City Council recent planning and policy documents” and “utterly the wrong type of infrastructure to be produced in the midst of a Climate Emergency.”
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In Galway, the “active travel” funding includes €2.25 million for the “Martin Junction Upgrade”, beside the Galway Clinic, is the latest of Galway City Council’s replacement of roundabouts with signalised junctions.
The N67 dual carriageway is motorway-like on the approaches to the junction and links directly to the end of the M6. The redesign project — which has already received over €2 million from the Urban Regeneration and Development Fund — is planned to serve as a gateway to a planned new urban area called Ardaun
Galway City Council’s webpage on the design highlights advantages for walking, cycling and buses, but the bus lanes end well before the junction and the walking and cycling provision is low-quality. The Galway Cycling Campaign pointed to the international best practice of grade segregation, using underpasses or bridges for a location like this, but this was dismissed by the council.
Another Cork project, the €1.05 million “South Douglas Road (Junction Improvements Scheme)” is a junction capacity scheme for motorists exiting the N40 with cycling provision mixed with pedestrians and motorists and only in one direction on the main road. The more benign name of “(Junction Improvements Scheme)” was tacked with the removal of the word “upgrade” — the Part 8 planning name for the project was the “South Douglas Road Junction Upgrade”.
Cork City Council’s Part 8 report outlines how the main background to the project “to carry out road network improvement works at the junction”. As with most of these projects, the benefits for walking and cycling is talked up, but cycle lanes are only tacked on where there is space.
In the National Transport Authority’s spreadsheet, a €7,500,000 junction expansion and capacity project called the Blackglen Road / Harold’s Grange Road Improvement Scheme at the Part 8 planning stage is also rebranded as the “Blackglen Road Walking and Cycling Scheme”. This Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council project went through the Part 8 planning process as a general road scheme, not a walking and cycling project.
On the Blackglen Road junction project, last year, Cllr Oisín O’Connor (Green Party) said: “I think it’s very important to recognise here that this is a road improvement scheme. Not a walking and cycling scheme.”
At the time, he added: “A lot of parts of the designs suggest it’s not cycling or walking infrastructure. It’s ‘get cycling and walking out of the way of drivers who want to go faster’ infrastructure. A cycle lane that just ends in the middle of a busy road is not one worth using in the first place. Many people who cycle, myself included, will continue to cycle on the road instead of the sub-standard cycle lanes.”
IrishCycle.com asked the Department if it could outline how it is not misleading the public by including projects which are not mainly walking and cycling projects under the branding of “2022 Active Travel Allocations” funding.
Yesterday, Sadbh Quinn, a spokesperson for the Department of Transport said: “The commitment to spend €360m per annum on Active Travel will be allocated through €289m announced today, €60m allocated under Greenways programme, €4m allocated to TII for Active Travel as well as other amounts being spent within the Department.”
“The Department believes that all projects being funded will have a positive impact on Active Travel in Ireland. There are over 1,000 projects funded today that will help transform our cities, towns and villages and make cycling more attractive for people and provide them with an alternative to the car for their journeys to work and school. We are also improving footpaths and junctions for people walking,” she said.
We also asked why is there a lack of transparency on what the funding is being spent on, for example, sections of the list of funding just has the names of areas of counties listed rather than project names. The Department just attached a breakdown of funding per Local Authority with the funding amounts attached, a Google Sheets version of that can be found here. But did not address the issue of no project names on some of the funding listed.
List of non-active travel projects listed under “active travel” funding:
This list is of most major items which are not what would generally be viewed as active travel. For clarity: These is no judgment on the value of the bus projects, the inclusion of them here is to show the extent of non-walking and cycling schemes marked under “active travel” branding.
Dublin City Council:
- €6.5 million — “Belmayne Main St Bus and Cycle Scheme”
- €1 million — “Dublin Public Transport Intervention Measures (DPTIM) – Civils Infrastructure”,
- €200,000 — “Real Time Passenger Information (RTPI) – Programme”
- €300,000 — “Bus Priority Liaison Office – Staff and Design Costs”
- €300,000 — “Asset Renewal – Bus Lane Road Markings”
- €200,000 — “Luas Cross City – Associated Traffic Management Measures”
- €100,000 — Sir John Rodgerson Quay Bus Priority & Cycling Measures
- €7.5 million – “Blackglen Road Walking and Cycling Scheme”, aka Blackglen Road / Harold’s Grange Road Improvement Scheme
Fingal County Council:
- €2 million on “Snugborough Road N3 Overbridge (33% co-fund)”
South Dublin County Council
- €15,000 towards an N81 Transport Strategy
Cork City Council
- €4.9 million — “McCurtain Street Public Transport Improvements”
- €2 million — Public Transport Asset Renewal
- €1.1 million — Monahan Road Extension
- €1.05 million — “South Douglas Road (Junction Improvements Scheme)”
- €900,000 — Ballyvolane Phase 2 – (Fox & Hound Junction)
- €800,000 — “Skehard Rd Phase 3”
- €400,000 — “Bus Stop Enabling works”.
- €300,000 — “Cork South Quays Public Transport Improvements”
- €179,500 — “SCOOT Review and IT Development”
- €125,000 — Southern Orbital Route Selection
- €100,000 — “Northern Distributor Road Route Selection”
Cork County Council
- €200,000 — “Bus Stop Enabling Works”
Limerick City and County Council
- €250,000 — “Dublin Road Bus Corridor – Parkway to NTP”
Galway City Council
- €2.25 million — “Martin Junction Upgrade”
- €800,000 — “Cross City Link” [BusConnects]
- €350,000 — “Dublin Road Transport Corridor”
- €160,000 — “Bus Priority within Urban Traffic Management Controls”
- €100,000 — “Signalisation of N83/Parkmore Rd Junction”
- €10,000 — “Tuam Road Multi Modal Corridor project”
Galway County Council
- €190,000 — “Parkmore transport framework – improvements”
- €1.5 million — N51 Park and Ride
- €200,000 — “Waterford Institute of Technology to City Centre Green Route”
- €100,000 — “Bus Priority in Little Bray”
- €50,000 — “Bray Public Transport Bridge Connection Phase 2”
- €3 million — “Dock and Abbey Road Infrastructure Works”
- €1 million — “Waterford SDZ Transportation Measures – Design and Enabling Works”
- €1 million — Waterford City Centre – River Suir Sustainable Transport Bridge
- €400,000 — “Bus Priority Measures – Traffic Signals and Road Marking Upgrades”
- €100,000 — “Dunmore Road – Waterford Regional Hospital to the City Centre Infrastructure Improvements”
Donegal County Council
- €130,000 — “Letterkenny Cathedral One Way”
- €50,000 — “Donegal Town One Way system”
- €40,000 — “Bus Interchange works (UCD)”
- €60,000 — “Bus Terminus upgrades Belfield”