— Project which goes against national standards highlighted in Department press release.
Transport Minister Eamon Ryan has confirmed the National Transport Authority funding for walking and cycling infrastructure in 2023 — it amounts to €290m for 1,200 Active Travel projects.
The Department of Transport outlined how this funding is separate to the €63m which will be made available to TII for the development of greenways. Together they add up to €353m — ie nearly €1m a day — but previous years’ funding allocations under the Active Travel banner were later found to be not walking and cycling but roads or other projects.
The Department of Transport said in a press release that this will allow for 1,000km of new and improved walking and cycling infrastructure across the country by 2025, but campaigners and transport sources are worried that the main target is a distance one rather than looking at outcomes such as usage or usability.
The Department said that funding includes 387 projects in the Greater Dublin Area, 250 across the other cities and 502 projects across “rural Ireland”, including towns. The details of funding can be read in this PDF or below.
Project highlighted is not in line with guidance
One of the projects highlighted as being funded in the Department of Transport’s press release is named the “Donegal Town One-Way Active Travel Scheme”, but this is a re-branding of the scheme by the addition of the words “Active Travel”.
Donegal Town is fully bypassed and Donegal County Council web page for the project said the aim of the project is to “improve traffic flow, safety for pedestrians and vulnerable road users”, but a mix of traffic flow and the provision of new on-street car parking is the main result. The project will make routes from housing estates in the northern part of the town one-way which is widely viewed as less cycling-friendly.
The designs available online are nowhere near best practice, below the standard of similar town street redesign projects in other towns which were built over a decade ago, and go against national guidance for walking and cycling provision.
The council’s website claims that the Donegal Town project includes “New road layout with kerbing for new footpaths to be built in accordance with DMURS & TII Standards.” But the designs published on its web page are not in accordance with the Design Manual for Urban Roads and Streets (DMURS) — including the lack of crossings at all sides of a junction, crossings set back beyond the ‘desire line’ and the lack of pedestrian priority via measures such as use of raised crossings, extra wide traffic lanes chosen over narrower footpaths, overly generous radius at junctions.
In the Department’s press release, Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan said: “Continuous and substantial funding for active travel across the country is a key commitment in the Programme for Government and a cornerstone of our transport strategies. Last year, all of the money allocated was drawn down by local authorities and I am confident that the same will happen this year. This will mean that communities across the country will be better connected with safe and people-friendly corridors to visit friends, go to the shops, or cycle or walk to school, sports training or other activities.
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“The benefits of this investment are immense, locally and nationally. Not only are we making our cities, towns and villages greener and more livable, we are also helping to reduce Ireland’s carbon emissions. In transport, we have a significant challenge to reduce our emissions by 50% by 2030,” he said.
Minister Ryan added: “To achieve this, we have to encourage more people to choose sustainable ways of travelling. However, as we have seen already with the greenways, walk and cycle ways, once we build them, they become instantly popular and we don’t really have to do much to encourage people to make the sustainable switch.”
Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Jack Chambers said: “I am happy to confirm that part of this funding will be allocated to the Safe Routes to School Programme. €15m was recently announced for Round 2 of the programme which will see over 37,000 students across Ireland benefit from safer infrastructure and encourage them to cycle, walk and wheel to school.”
“In conjunction with Safe Routes to School, funding will also be committed to continuing the good work of the Cycle Right Training programme, which in 2022 saw over 30,000 students trained in cycle safety,” he said.
Anne Graham, CEO of the National Transport Authority, said: “2023 is going to be an important year for active travel. With a growing number of active travel schemes moving from design into construction and delivery, we can encourage more people across the country to walk or cycle within and beyond their local community. The funding being announced today will allow the NTA to continue to work alongside local authorities as we accelerate the delivery of improved cycling and walking infrastructure.
She added: “From new segregated cycle lanes and footpaths, to dedicated pedestrian and cycling bridges, the active travel projects receiving funding will make it easier and safer for people to choose active travel modes. The extensive work being undertaken in partnership with Active Travel teams within Councils nationwide will help improve the health and wellbeing of our communities and make them more accessible and attractive for everyone.”