Wednesday, 19 December 2018
Promoting Cycling: Motion [Private Members]
I am sharing time with Deputies Lisa Chambers and Jack Chambers. I compliment and congratulate my party colleague, Deputy Troy, on bringing forward this motion. While other speakers indicated that it is not legislation, it is a motion and it is important because it affords us on this side of the House the opportunity to set out our vision on cycling and the infrastructure that is required.
To be fair to the Minister, who is not in the Chamber, it afforded him the opportunity of setting out the Government's response, and some of the elements he mentioned in his response are to be welcomed. As Deputy Ryan said, this is our last debate before the recess and it is important that we reflect on that.
There is no question that the number of people who engage actively in cycling on a daily basis, both here in the city and across the country, has increased significantly in recent years. The real challenge is that the necessary infrastructure to make those cycling journeys safe has not been put in place at the same pace. Undoubtedly, there have been some very good developments. We talked about some of the greenways in Waterford and so on. In terms of our own areas, Deputy Gino Kenny spoke about the Grand Canal greenway, particularly from Inchicore to the 12th lock. They are fabulous facilities. The Deputy was right when he said if we build it the people will use it. That has been the experience. The Grand Canal greenway is being used, if we look at the national greenways. When the dublinbikes scheme was introduced, there were approximately 4,000 or 5,000 users per day. It is approximately 16,000 now, so there is a major demand for it.
My concern is twofold. First, the existing infrastructure is not fit for purpose from a safety point of view. People have spoken about the number of fatalities, and the number of serious accidents and injuries, on the roads. In his contribution, the Minister, Deputy Ross, said that he was spending €400,000 on technology solutions through Dublin City Council with regard to some of the busiest journeys. I ask the Minister and the Department to do an analysis of the existing road structure in terms of what needs to be repaired or upgraded. Every day we see cyclists avoiding potholes and other impediments on the road, bringing them into the line of traffic. Those issues should be dealt with without having to require new cycleways.
In terms of new cycleways, we hear about BusConnects and whatever. The problem with the BusConnects solution is that it will be a decade before all of it is complete. There is an increasing number of cyclists on our roads year in, year out, and they deserve better than what is currently in place. In the past week I was involved in a debate where we spoke about meeting our 2020 emissions targets. I was involved in another debate about young people and obesity. In all those areas, cycling has a very positive outcome for those people and for society in general.
There must be an audit of areas where accidents have occurred. We need to upgrade and maintain the existing infrastructure as well as provide new, properly segregated cycle lanes but we cannot wait for BusConnects, which will take a decade to be fully delivered.