Councils around Ireland collectively were allocated €309,216,333 for walking and cycling infrastructure via the National Transport Authority in 2021, but only spent €179,900,537, leaving 42% of the funding yet to be used.
The news comes as campaigners have growing worries about the quality of the projects which active travel funding is being used for.
Projects are using designs — including narrow widths of cycle paths, unprotected sections, and shared paths — which are internationally recognised as being unable to enable the kind of transfomation that transport Minister Eamon Ryan says he’s aiming for. But the concerns of campainers seem to be falling on deaf ears.
Regardless of the quality, most councils underspent by millions, some by €10 million or more.
It was widely expected that most councils would not be in a position to spend all of the funding allocated in the first full year of extra funding after the Green Party secured nearly €1 million a day on walking and cycling in the Programme for Government.
Issues such as not fully having walking and cycling teams in place, a lack of consultancy capacity to outsource to, not having projects planned for or fully approved, and tendering issues were expected. But the data — from the NTA released today via Senator Pauline O’Reilly — show the extent of the underspend across the country by county.
Dublin City Council underspend by €23.6 million — after being allocated nearly €50 million.
Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council, Cork City Council and South Dublin County Council were allocated around €34m, €30m and €20.7m, respectively, but underspent by €10 million or more each.
As reported separately today, Galway City Council left half of its allocated funding for last year unclaimed — just over €6.2 million of what was allocated.
Fingal County Council, Cork County Council, Kildare County Council, Clare County Council, and Kerry County Council spent nearly or more than €5 million less than allocated each, while Waterford City and County Council underspent by €4 million.
Limerick City and County Council, Mayo County Council, and Tipperary County Council were some of the few councils to claim extra compared to what was originally allocated. It’s not clear if this is an overspend or funding for extra projects.
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A number of councils only managed to spend 100,000s of euro when allocated millions — these include Longford County Council, Monaghan County Council, Offaly County Council, and Westmeath County Council. In the case of the latter, it was allocated €4.5 million but only was able to spend just over €205,000.
IrishCycle.com has lodged a Freedom of Information request on the details of how the funding was (and was not) spent. In the meanwhile here’s the breakdown by county of how much was allocated and how much was spent:
CITIES AND GDA AREA ONLY: