Thursday, 21 May 2020
Covid-19 (Taoiseach): Statements
Leo Varadkar (Taoiseach, Department of An Taoiseach; Dublin West, Fine Gael)
The Deputy is absolutely spot on regarding this matter. Every crisis does create opportunities, and one of the opportunities that arises out of this crisis is to provide more space on our streets for pedestrians with wider footpaths as well as more space for cyclists. We have already seen a big increase in the number of people cycling into Dublin city centre in recent years, but it is still way lower than in other cities of our scale across Europe. We would like to see much more cycling in cities such as Cork, Galway, Limerick and Waterford, and other towns as well.
I would put the message out to city councils and local authorities that this is now an opportunity to draw up plans to improve pedestrian facilities and provision for cyclists, and also to implement them. That is particularly the case at a time when it is difficult to do some forms of very complicated construction. I am not an engineer, but I would have thought that this type of outdoor work, widening footpaths and putting in cycle lanes, is probably easier to carry out than some more complicated projects. I think this is an opportunity and I encourage city councils to take up the suggestion being made by Deputy Eamon Ryan. I support that as the Head of Government.
I also recognise the Office of Public Works, OPW, which is part of central government while local authorities are not, for making the decision yesterday to increase by 33% the amount of the Phoenix Park being made available to people cycling and walking. That is a very good move by the OPW and I welcome it.