Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Wednesday, 26 June 2019
Joint Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action
Active Travel and Urban Planning Focusing on Cycling: Discussion
I welcome this afternoon's presentation on where we are going with our cycling strategy. I will not be negative. We need to be proactive and have a debate regarding cyclists and how to promote cycling but, because of our dispersed population, Ireland is different from areas such as London and Manchester. Populations densities are very low in my part of the world, which is very rural and in which the population is very dispersed. How should the strategy address rural areas? There are safety issues in respect of rural transportation, rural cycling, and rural roads. For people on the further side of the constituency in which I live, the nearest shop could be ten or 12 miles away, depending on where they live. The dispersed nature of the Irish population is an issue. What are the implications for rural areas? How can the strategy be improved to ensure that rural people have the option to cycle and experience the benefits of the strategy?
On the other side, we must consider urban planning and how we build infrastructure, particularly for our industries. Local authorities and the manufacturing industry need to promote cycling to work but, on the other side, Ireland experiences nearly 40 in. of rainfall every year. There are, on average, 160 days of wet weather. This is slightly different from weather on the Continent. With regard to urban planning, amenities must be put in place for people who want to cycle to work. They should be able to cycle to work comfortably and then, if the weather requires, be able to change. Has there been a major change in cities such as London and Manchester regarding the design of urban buildings to accommodate cyclists?