Seanad debates

Monday, 5 July 2021

Nithe i dtosach suíonna - Commencement Matters

Cycling Facilities

10:30 am

Photo of Joe O'BrienJoe O'Brien (Dublin Fingal, Green Party) | Oireachtas source

I thank Senator Currie for giving me the opportunity to address the Seanad today, on behalf of the Minister for Transport, Deputy Ryan, to talk about the important issue of investment in cycling infrastructure, which will ultimately make our cities, towns, and villages more accessible for everyone.

As Senators will be aware, the programme for Government sets out an ambitious and wide-ranging set of commitments concerning walking and cycling and states that €360 million in cross-Government funding will be spent yearly on walking and cycling over the lifetime of the Government, which is equivalent to 20% of the 2020 transport capital budget. This investment will help support the planned delivery of almost 1,000 km of improved walking and cycling infrastructure by 2025, as well as additional investment in greenways.

The Minister was delighted to announce earlier this year an allocation of €240 million to active travel projects in the greater Dublin area and the four regional cities. This funding will support the addition of 233 new sustainable transport projects to the investment programme of the National Transport Authority, NTA, in 2021. The NTA will be tasked with overseeing and supporting the development of the high-quality mobility infrastructure across all projects and will also ensure projects are accessible and age-friendly. Fingal County Council, which is the lead local authority for the Strawberry Beds area, received an allocation of €14.87 million under this funding programme, which is a sizeable allocation and will facilitate progress on numerous projects this year across the Fingal County area.

The Minister fully understands that to deliver these projects local authorities require adequate resources to enable them to do so. As the Senator is also likely aware, the Department of Transport has therefore agreed to fund 218 active travel posts in local authorities throughout the country to ensure delivery of the increased programme of active travel infrastructure. In January, the Minister wrote to the County and City Management Association, CCMA, to advise that Fingal County Council has been allocated up to 18 additional staff through this funding, and I understand the necessary recruitment processes are under way. The Department of Transport is also working with Transport Infrastructure Ireland, TII, and the NTA to develop a national cycle network which will ensure investments are focused efficiently, which should outline the cycling routes currently available, identify gaps in the network, and ascertain improvements likely to be required.

Regarding the specific matter raised by Senator Currie, the Senator is likely aware that the transport strategy for the greater Dublin area, GDA, was approved by the Government in 2016. Under the Dublin Transport Authority Act 2008, the NTA must review the transport strategy every six years. This review assesses the implementation of the current plan and looks to produce an updated strategy which will set out the framework for investment in transport infrastructure and services to take us to 2042. The scope of the transport strategy encompasses all land transport modes and services in the greater Dublin area, including cycling. As part of the broad range of inputs into the preparation of the transport strategy, the NTA is updating the 2013 greater Dublin area cycle network plan. The need for cycling infrastructure and the appropriateness of the road network at and in the vicinity of the Strawberry Beds is being examined as part of that update. This updated plan will be published for consultation as a background paper for the transport strategy in September 2021.

The step change in funding for investment in sustainable transport projects committed to in budget 2021 is proof of the Government's commitment to active travel, and I and the Minister look forward to the delivery of the numerous projects throughout the country over the course of this year.


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