Wednesday, 19 December 2018
Promoting Cycling: Motion [Private Members]
I thank the many speakers who contributed. Every man and woman who contributed did so in a very positive manner and are very favourably disposed to the motion and to the public policy of cycling. It is unfortunate that the Government chose to oppose the motion. It is only doing so for political reasons. I approached the Minister last night and told him that if he were to give us a compromise motion this morning, the House could united on this issue which, as Deputy Munster noted, is very important and which the Government is not currently dealing with properly. If it was, the Gallery would not be full this evening, a week before Christmas. That is because people are genuinely concerned about how this policy is being pursued in recent months. I ask that the Government reflect over Christmas and to make the choice not to divide the House on a motion on cycling, particularly as there has been a common theme in the opinions expressed by Members.
I will not apologise for Fianna Fáil as a party bringing forward this motion. We have a good track record on cycling policy. A previous Minister with responsibility for transport, Noel Dempsey, brought forward the first and only national policy framework on cycling. That policy has not been updated in the interim. I have raised this matter many times by means of parliamentary questions and at the joint committee. I was part of a delegation which visited the Netherlands during the year. Fianna Fáil is the only party in the House that has published an up-to-date policy on cycling. We understand that this is a major issue. We will continue to push in respect of it and we expect that Government will respond.
Unfortunately, people do not believe the Minister. He can come into the Chamber and make promises about what will happen in future but people judge him on what he has done thus far. During his time as Minister, he has cut the national cycling budget and he has over-promised and under-delivered. In the context of the minimum passing distance, for an entire year he resisted efforts by his Cabinet colleagues to bring forward legislation. He then went out and held a press conference in an effort to stop us debating an amendment on Committee Stage and promised that it would be done within weeks. Almost 12 months later, it remains undone. Forgive us if we do not accept his bona fides when he talks about segregated lanes being put in place as part of the BusConnects programme. As someone who has engaged with that programme over the past two years since publication, I know that by the time planning, compulsory purchase orders, tendering etc. are completed, no new segregated cycle lane will be put in place for a minimum of three years. I also wish to record that the members of the cycling community have reservations regarding the design of segregated cycle tracks. They must be listened to and engaged with. I hope this will happen.
The Minister of State referred to multi-modality in the context of transport.
I do not know when the Minister of State last travelled on public transport. If one tries to bring a bus on a train----