“Leadership, vision, and courage” needed to stand up to likely opposite and to make BusConnects Cork plan better

— 54km of “cycling and walking infrastructure” and 75km of dedicated bus lanes.

Now is the time for councillors, TDs, and the Cork City Council executive to show “leadership, vision, and courage” on backing and improving the Cork BusConnects plan, according to cycling campaigners.

The National Transport Authority (NTA) today announced slightly firmer details of the €600m infrastructure element of BusConnects in Cork. Under the branding of “Sustainable Transport Corridors”, the details today includes some detours off main routes for cycling.

The NTA said that its report published today “sets out the NTA’s principles and initial thinking” on how the 12,Sustainable Transport Corridors will “significantly improve bus journey times and increase the number of people walking and cycling into the city.”

This is to be followed up by more details in the planned initial public consultation during June, when further details will also be revealed about proposed “Community Forums” for the project.

Conn Donovan, chairperson of the Cork Cycling Campaign, said: “Although the plans released today are only indicative, some eyebrows have been raised by suggestions of re-routing people cycling onto quieter routes that may not be direct and also have steep gradients.”

Donovan said that the BusConnects plan should be aiming for a modal share for cycling of at least 15% of all time

He said: “We also note that the plan seeks to achieve a 33% increase in walking and cycling. It’s important to point out that any plan that takes a 2011 baseline of 1-2% and triples it to 4% by 2040 for cycling is not fit for purpose.”

“Cycling is a low carbon, non polluting form of transport that enables people to unlock significant health benefits. BusConnects should seek to get 15-20% of all trips in Cork by bike by the end of this decade,” he said.

He added: “The plans will involve a once in a generation re-allocation of public space away from private cars and towards public transport and active travel. This is not the time for councillors, TDs, and the Council Executive to hide behind the curtains and see what the public mood is. There will be opposition, there will be complaining, and there will be criticism. What we need however is leadership, vision, and courage to take the right steps to make Cork a safer, healthier, and more environmentally friendly city.”

The NTA said that it was taking its modal share targets from the Cork Metropolitan Area Transport Strategy which it developed with Cork City Council and Cork County Council, to “increase the number of people using public transport in Cork fourfold by 2040 and expand the numbers cycling and walking by 33%”.

The 12 proposed BusConnects corridors are:
A. Dunkettle to City Centre
B. Mayfield to City Centre
C. Blackpool to City Centre
D. Hollyhill to City Centre
E. Ballincollig to City Centre
F. Bishopstown to City Centre
G. Togher to City Centre
H. Airport Road to City Centre
I. Maryborough Hill to City Centre
J. Mahon to City Centre
K. Kinsale Road to Douglas
L. Sunday’s Well to Hollyhill

Page 36 onwards of the BusConnects report published today gives details, by route, some of the measures such as bus lanes, bus/cycle only streets, one-way systems, detours for cycling on some sections, removal of parking on other sections, acquisition of the front of some gardened and even some acquisition buildings.

The release of these details without specifying exactly where each measure is to be used has lead to fears locally that opposition will mount against the project before initialdetailed proposals are published in June.

The Cork Commuter Coalition called out the Irish Examiner for “negative framing” by focusing on the proposed loss of on-street car parking.

The group said: “The bus corridor report is barely hot off the presses before the negative framing begins. NIMBYism has caused untold damage to our city. It can’t and shouldn’t be the first word people hear about the future of transport.”

In a press release, Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan said: “As one of Europe’s fastest growing cities, Cork has a unique opportunity to become a leader in sustainable transport. BusConnects Cork is key to making public transport and active travel a viable option for people and communities across the city.”

He added: “The new sustainable transport corridors announced today, along with the planned roll-out of a zero-emission bus fleet, will make travel by bus, as well as walking and cycling, more attractive to many more individuals and families. By drastically reducing bus journey times and providing
dedicated cycling and walking infrastructure, sustainable transport will be at the very heart of a thriving Cork City into the future.”

Anne Graham, CEO of the NTA, said: “A clean, modern and reliable public transport system can help unlock Cork’s potential as a connected and competitive European city.“

She said: “With a 51% increase in
the numbers taking the bus in just six years, there is a rapidly growing demand for bus services and the need for modern infrastructure to support Cork’s growth.”

But she said the planned increase in bus use “will not fully succeed without the roll-out of the sustainable transport corridors.”

Ann Doherty, chief executive of Cork City Council said: “The provision of 75kms of bus lanes and 54kms in cycling and walking infrastructure will help to meet the increase in demand for travel within the city while reducing the dependency on the car. The project brings with it exciting new opportunities to change the way we travel and to invest in urban renewal.”

She added: “Cork City Council is looking forward to working with the NTA to bring the Sustainable Transport Corridors project to life.”

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