Dáil debates

Wednesday, 19 December 2018

Promoting Cycling: Motion [Private Members]


7:45 pm

Photo of Jim O'CallaghanJim O'Callaghan (Dublin Bay South, Fianna Fail) | Oireachtas source

Like Deputies Gino Kenny and Eamon Ryan, when I leave here this evening, I will get on my bike, put on my helmet and head up Kildare Street. We need to start encouraging more people to cycle. Anyone interested in addressing the problem of climate change, in becoming healthier or, in overcoming city gridlock, should become a cyclist. The same goes for promoting tourism. We must recognise that people will not get involved with cycling unless the State does more for them. That is why it is so important that we have an advocate leading for cycling in the State.

Unfortunately, there is a very negative and strange attitude towards cycling among some people in officialdom. I am aware of and have experienced it. When I tell people that I use a bike or they see me on one, they find it strange that a man wearing a suit is on a bike. I sometimes wonder if they think cycling is only for botanists or politicians such as Jeremy Corbyn. We must change the State's attitude to people and cycling. Unfortunately, what I have heard this evening from the Minister does not inspire me with confidence. We need an advocate for cycling who will sell it to the Irish public and who will recognise the reasons people are hesitant about using their bikes.

Deputy Eamon Ryan referred to cycling along Leeson Street but it is the same in every part of the city. Cycling down Wexford Street or Camden Street, there are token cycling lanes which are really only part of a process to appease the city council or officialdom into believing that there is a cycle lane around the city. There is no protection for cyclists, however, and that is one of the biggest obstacles to people encouraging their children to cycle at a young age.

The Minister referred to investment but that is only part of the solution. We need someone out there selling it and to be its champion in government. Unfortunately, the Minister's contribution does not lead me to believe that he is the person to do it. To be fair to the Minister, when he wants to be a strenuous advocate for something, he can be passionate about it but I do not hear that passion from him regarding cycling. Unfortunately, I hear apathy and low energy. Perhaps it is the Minister of State, Deputy Griffin, who is the man to get out there and do it. Someone needs to own this and sell it because the public are there to be sold on it. We can get large numbers involved if it is properly dealt with at Cabinet level.

I thank my colleague, Deputy Troy, for his excellent work in this area. It is difficult for Deputies outside Dublin to cycle because they have to drive here or use public transport. However, I know Deputy Troy is a committed cyclist. We need to set an example to everyone in this country to show that cycling is the way forward and that, in the context of their health, climate change and gridlock, people should get on their bikes.


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