Wednesday, 19 December 2018
Promoting Cycling: Motion [Private Members]
Amendment No. 3 reads as follows:
To insert the following after "pensioners and unemployed people;":
"— introduce urban planning measures that return our cities to the people, by prioritising cyclists, pedestrian and public transport users in urban centres, and ending the dominance of the private motor car;"
I am sharing time with Deputy Sherlock. I thank Deputy Troy for bringing forward this very important motion. I acknowledge those in the Gallery, some of whom are here in memory of loved ones who have died as cyclists on our roads - people like Neil Fox, a constituent of mine who is here in memory his sister Donna who sadly died in Dublin city centre while commuting to work on her bicycle. She was doing what we all say we want people to do, which is to commute to work or school or college in a clean, green and environmentally friendly way. We let people like Donna and other victims down by not providing the proper infrastructure to allow them to do this safely and to ensure that when they do commute to work, school or college, they also return home safely that same day.
Urban planning measures are needed in order to deliver what we actually need in this city and every other city and town throughout the country, namely, dedicated and segregated cycle lanes, particularly on the main arteries into and out of our urban centres. This can involve making difficult decisions. While this motion does call for these segregated lanes, the proposers and supporters need to follow that up when politically unpopular decisions need to be made at local level. In 2017, we saw Dublin City Council roll back on plans for a segregated cycle lane in Fairview due to trees being deemed historically important. I received a lot of representations on this as many of my constituents travel through Fairview either by car, bus or bicycle. As Members can imagine, I received varying representations on this issue. However, the biggest pressure was to protect the trees and thus the segregated cycle lane was cobbled. Unfortunately, the pressure was so great on Dublin City Council that it abandoned the plan and to date, no progress has been made. Progress on the delivery of cycle lanes requires politically difficult choices as well. Segregated lanes need land so parks, paths, gardens and roads all come into play.
Labour fully supports the provision of cycling infrastructure. We led on the delivery of the Dublinbikes scheme, which continues to go from strength to strength. We want to see it expanded to all Irish cities, big towns and major suburbs. My colleague, Peter Horgan, is pushing for the expansion of the Cork scheme to the suburbs. In Labour's alternative budget, we proposed a 20 cent investment for every journey on the public bicycle schemes in order to help finance further expansion.
I like the call in this motion to revise the Bike to Work scheme. A revised and improved scheme with further political impetus and pressure would be of great benefit and I believe the uptake would be very strong. Currently, there are considerable risks to cyclists who use shared roads due to the interaction between cyclists and motor vehicles. In 2017, 15 cyclists died as a result of motor collisions and hundreds more were injured. That figure shows a 50% increase from 2016. Future deaths can be prevented if we invest more in cycling. Currently, less than 1% of our transport budget, around €3 million, is spent on promoting cycling and the cycling infrastructure. It is not enough. One thing that we can invest in is a better cycle infrastructure such as more dedicated cycle tracks that are physically segregated from other road users.
I fully support the "Staying Alive at 1.5" campaign and I was very proud of the Labour group on Fingal County Council, which led the way in delivering a pilot Staying Alive at 1.5 scheme in Fingal. Now every large vehicle in the council has a Staying Alive at 1.5 sticker and there are popular cycling routes with dedicated 1.5 m signage. Investing in cycling infrastructure will reap its own rewards and has been proven in other cities.
Ten years ago, the city of Seville invested in cycle infrastructure that provided 80 km of connected, segregated cycle paths. Since then, cycling numbers have increased from 6,000 to 70,000 a day. We can do the same and deliver the same results. The real work will be done in county and city development plans. Pressure needs to be put on councillors to incorporate pro-cycling objectives into these plans. We need a political consensus and a real will to invest and deliver.