Thursday, 3 March 2022
Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport
23. To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will alter the criteria for the active travel scheme to include villages and settlement centres that do not have speed limits which would benefit enormously from the scheme to safely link schools and amenities by means of footpaths and cycleways; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12071/22]
The Safe Routes to School Programme was launched in March 2021 to support Active Travel infrastructure for selected schools around the country. This Programme aims to create safer walking and cycling routes within communities, alleviate congestion at the school gates and increase the number of students who walk or cycle to school by providing new or improved walking and cycling facilities. Funding is provided to local authorities as part of the Department of Transport's funding allocation to the National Transport Authority (NTA), is supported by the Department of Education and coordinated by An Taisce’s Green Schools.
€15m has been allocated for projects at the 170 schools included in Round One of the Programme. The schools not included in Round One will be engaged with on a rolling basis in each local authority area. This funding is being provided from the €1.8 billion funding earmarked in the Programme for Government to support sustainable transport
It is important to note that local authorities have the power to introduce bye-laws to set special speed limits in designated areas such as built up areas or around schools, and typically have done so. The Safe Routes to School Programme is focusing more on urban and suburban areas, as there is greater population densities within walking and cycling distance to schools in these areas. There are also a significant number of schools on the edge of towns and villages, within walking distance, which do not have continuous footpaths on the route to schools. These schools are viewed as urban/suburban for the purposes of the Programme.
However, the Programme will also work with a small number of rural schools - for example schools on 80km/h roads outside town or village boundaries - to devise some infrastructure interventions that can promote active travel in such locations. These will be based more on slower speeds and highlighting the presence of a school.