Wednesday, 19 December 2018
Promoting Cycling: Motion [Private Members]
I thank my colleague, Deputy Troy, for raising this issue. I thank those in the Gallery for their patience. There are a number of issues but I will frame my short contribution around several key points. Clearly cycling's time has come. There has never been such an appetite or enthusiasm for cycling and such a growth in cycling and the use of bicycles in Ireland. I am particularly referencing this as Dublin spokesperson. There is a huge desire on the part of people of all age groups and genders not only to do their bit for climate change but to do something they enjoy, which is cycling, whether to work, as part of an amateur sporting pursuit or just a leisure activity. The proof of the pudding in terms of cycling safety will be when parents of 11 or 12 year olds feel safe in allowing them to cycle alone on properly segregated off-road obstacle free cycle tracks. I am speaking about this from a national perspective but specifically from a Dublin perspective.
I commend Deputy Troy because we on this side of the House have raised this issue continuously. There will be a day of reckoning on the issue of cycling when parties will go before the people and we will be able to say these are our ideas, we have given an awful lot of thought to this and we have engaged with all of the cycling bodies, regardless of size and scale, to get their ideas and involvement in the development of innovative policy. At some time in the future, parties will go before the electorate and will be able to state what they are offering. There will be others who will have to state they had huge power and influence but, unfortunately, concentrated a lot of that power into stuff that was not germane to the Ministry or Department they had authority over.
Deputy Troy raised the issue of what happens in the gap between 2018 and 2027 when all of the BusConnects projects are to be completed. The Minister does gravity exceptionally well but he does not do urgency particularly well. The climate change urgency is something this side of the House takes particularly seriously. Someone needs to lead the debate on the public space that motorists by and large have taken for granted as theirs over the years. It does not belong exclusively to them anymore. It is a space that must be shared with cyclists, pedestrians and public transport. This is a step change that has to be made and it requires significant leadership. It has to include advances that no one seems to have taken into account, such as scooters and electric bikes, because our existing bus lanes do not cater for their speed.
These are the key points on which the Minister must lead. It will require radical decisions and a lot of leadership to persuade the public that the public realm must be shared.
Cycling's time has come and the Minister must give us ideas. We have plenty of them on this side of the House. What does the Minister intend to do now before BusConnects and cycling infrastructure is built out?