BusConnects needs leadership, not scaremongering says Active Travel Coalition

The public and political approach to BusConnects needs leadership, not scaremongering according to the Active Travel Coalition, which is made up of health groups and transport campaigners.

The group said that it is aware of weaknesses in BusConnect designs, and acknowledges the loss of private garden space but that it thinks that losses will be far outweighed by the gains

The Active Travel Coalition was established in 2021 with the “goal of enabling people of all ages to have healthier choices in transport”. Members of the group include the Irish Heart Foundation, the Irish College of General Practitioners, Irish Doctors for the Environment, the Royal College of Physicians, the Irish Pedestrian Network and Cyclist.ie, a national cycling campaign group.

Dr Sean Owens of the Irish College of General Practitioners said: “BusConnects will provide more reliable, punctual bus services, better footpath and crossing facilities for pedestrians, and joined-up bike lanes across Dublin and other cities. Regular physical activity has been found to be one of the most sustainable ways of improving health.”

He added: “Designing a transport system that builds in some level of exercise, whether that be a 10 min walk at either end of a bus journey or a cycle to work or school, is the easiest way of achieving this. Active travel projects will have significant public health benefits and we need our public representatives to stand up and support them.”


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Roisin Breen, from the HSE’s Strategy and Research group, said:“Supporting healthy behaviours from childhood through to healthy ageing is a key pillar of the HSE Healthy Ireland Plan for 2023-27. The plan calls for a shift towards a culture that places greater emphasis and value on prevention and keeping people well.
One of the key focus areas in the plan is on active living. BusConnects helps facilitate active living which will keep people healthier longer.”

She added: “In addition The HSE Climate Action Strategy 2023-2050 includes action to enable the transition to low carbon and active travel alternatives for people working in, visiting and using our services.”

Dr Colm Byrne, consultant geriatrician and member of Irish Doctors for the Environment, said: “Ireland has a transport problem, but more specifically a car problem. We rank only behind Cyprus as the most car-dependent country in the EU, with 76 per cent of people using a car as their daily transport, with even very short journeys done by car.”

Mark Murphy, an advocacy officer with the Irish Heart Foundation, said: “30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity, such as walking or cycling, five days a week, reduces your risk of developing heart disease and stroke, and contributes to overall improved levels of health”.

The group said that cycling has “immense pent-up demand” and “cycle traffic would be greatly increased by BusConnects”.

David Timoney, a spokesperson for Cyclist.ie, said: “In Dublin, for example, roughly 25% of adults cycle one or more days per week. There is a further 21% who would cycle if they felt safer. The number one reason given by people for not cycling is fear of sharing road space with motor traffic.”

He said: “With safe segregated cycling infrastructure therefore, we could almost double the numbers of adults cycling in Dublin. This is to not even consider the potential for growth in schoolkids cycling to school. Cycling can be an option for almost everyone if we design for it correctly. Segregated bike lanes will be delivered alongside the improved bus routes as part of BusConnects.”

Timoney added: ”We’re aware of weaknesses in the designs, and we do acknowledge that the loss of private garden space and the inconvenience of losing habitual car park spaces are difficult for those affected, but we are convinced that BusConnects will bring such major benefits to the public good – improvements in peoples’ cardiovascular and respiratory health, even their sense of general wellbeing – that any losses will be far outweighed by the gains.”

2 comments

  1. No mention of where bus connects removes footpath space and also removes a lot of current accessibility on journeys forcing journeys to be made by 2 or 3 buses rather then 1 which is the big issue and causing a rise in car use. To increase cycle use more proper segregated minimum 2meter cycle lanes are required including orbitals along m50 route also inclusion needs to happen in bike hire and main bike stores try buy trike in dublin or hire one through the public bike hire schemes that will be a game changer

    Reply
  2. The Irish Pedestrian Network was founded in 2019 and then went dormant almost immediately (presumably as its primary founder was elected to Dublin City Council, then to Dail Eireann). I was at the inaugural meeting and I follow(ed) them on Twitter, but I have seen nothing from them since then, except the occasional retweet of @streetsare4ppl (which is a different group with a different means of engagement, i.e. more direct action) and an occasional reference to their support for campaigns such as this one. (I called out their purported support for a different campaign some time ago on Twitter and got little clarity.)

    Does the IPN even exist any more? If it does, who is in charge of deciding what campaigns it supports? As a *cough* early adopter myself, I’d be very keen to know more. It is notable that the press release contains quotes from most of the organisations included in the ATC, but not one from an IPN rep.

    Could I suggest that an investigative article on the IPN and its current level of activity (or inactivity) would be a worthwhile pursuit? I would certainly appreciate it.

    Reply

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