Dáil debates

Wednesday, 19 December 2018

Promoting Cycling: Motion [Private Members]


7:25 pm

Photo of Jack ChambersJack Chambers (Dublin West, Fianna Fail) | Oireachtas source

I thank my colleague, Deputy Troy, and I welcome many of the cyclists in the Gallery. The Dublin Cycling Campaign goes through the key pillars of this issue, including cycling for health, cycling for infrastructure, proper legislation and road enforcement, but what we did not hear from the Minister was a plan, a timeline or a hope that this will happen. It was the same projected goals and projected resources.

We know that Dublin as the capital is not a safe place to cycle. Some 90,000 cyclists run the gauntlet of trying to navigate the city every day, putting their lives in the hands of other road users and hoping for the best. Drastic action is needed. I read the Official Report of a debate in 2017 which referred to traffic congestion issues with cycling, and nothing has changed since then.

It is important we become political about this issue. The Minister is accountable for transport policy. For the benefit of anyone watching this debate at home and those in the Gallery, the Minister, Deputy Ross, has spent more time talking about judges inside and outside this Chamber than he has about transport policy or cycling policy, for which he is accountable. We can hear all about the projections but it is clear that the Judicial Appointments Bill is a bigger priority for him than delivering a safer cycle network for people in Dublin and beyond. He needs to be made accountable for that.

Some 59 cyclists have been killed on Irish roads in the past five years. Nine cyclists have died this year, and even more have been injured. Those are damning statistics. The absence of segregated cycling lanes means the most vulnerable road users are going bumper to wheel vying for space with the largest vehicles on our streets.

My grandmother lives outside Newport in County Mayo. The Westport to Achill greenway has shown that proper segregation encourages people to cycle. While we cannot have a similar space in terms of a greenway, we need to have proper planned cycle lane segregation in our city. What we have in our local authorities is the painting of lines in some instances where they can tick a box to say that they have cycle lanes when they do not. We have examples of cycle tourism being undermined and the Minister, Deputy Ross, again delaying legislation to provide cyclists with a 1.5 m road space that is continually being pushed back.

In my constituency in Dublin West, we have seen the Royal Canal greenway again being delayed and not being delivered in terms of the capital allocations. To take the Phoenix Park as an example, thousands of cyclists use it on a daily basis but with respect to the cycle lane that is allocated for them, they are competing continuously with pedestrians who are using it. There is not a proper OPW policy to encourage cycling.

While BusConnects offers proper segregation in time, local authorities are not planning for cycle lanes into the planned segregation that will occur. That is another fundamental issue for which there is not an allocation with respect to the capital allocation. Only €8 million was allocated this year versus €19 million in 2015.

I am a member of the Joint Committee on Climate Action. This proposal would deliver a massive climate change goal that we need to fulfil. What we need from the Minister, Deputy Ross, are fewer words about judges, more actions for cyclists and a better transport policy for this city, which we are not seeing happen.


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