THE NATIONAL TRANSPORT Authority has withdrawn funding for cycling infrastructure across Dublin.
Design work was due to begin this year on cycle lane and greenway projects in the capital, which would see segregated cycleways along the River Dodder, and extensions to the Grand Canal and Royal Canal greenways.
The NTA has told Dublin City Council to stop work on the cycling projects.
In a statement to TheJournal.ie, the NTA said the demands of the Luas cross city project – and city centre traffic management schemes – required a “refocusing” of resources from the bike infrastructure projects.
- the Dodder Greenway from Glenasmole Reservoir in the Dublin Mountains to Grand Canal Dock via Clonskeagh and Tallaght;
- Segregated cycling lanes from Adamstown to Inchicore and Portobello along the Grand Canal;
- and Phase 4 of the Royal Canal greenway.
It’s understood a shortage of traffic engineers in the capital means resources for the segregated cycle paths, which would cost between €5.7 million and €12.3 million, have been diverted to the €368 million Luas Cross-City project, and its attendant rerouting of city centre traffic plans.
The Heuston to Chapelizod Greenway has also been delayed due to the lack of a project engineer.
Last night the NTA told Dublin city councillors that it will only release resources for the cycling projects once progress is made on Luas and the associated redesign of traffic around College Green.
Luas Cross City is due for completion at the 2017.
Cllr Paddy Smyth called the move to delay the bike schemes “bananas”.
“This is a 100% regressive step,” Smyth told TheJournal.ie.
I don’t mean to be scaremongering, but the city is not safe for cyclists yet, even if the five-axle ban in the city centre means fewer people are being crushed on left turns.
“The NTA are engineers, and engineers like big shiny projects.
“And the Luas ticks those boxes. That’s fine until they’re calling the shots on what gets funded.
“To really make cycling in the city safe, you need to get to a critical mass of cyclists of 15-20% that they have in Amsterdam and Paris, for drivers to be more used to having the cop on to check their mirrors for cyclists.
Until we get at that magic number, it’s still going to too dangerous for people to be confident enough to go out and cycle.
“What we need to get to that level is to attract people who don’t like cycling on main roads, beside buses and beside trucks and commuters. So we need these greenways.”
Smyth previously proposed a ‘quiet way’ across Dublin South from Kimmage to Donnybrook, along quiet residential streets, and ‘parking protected’ cycle lanes in the city centre.
The NTA is currently looking at the feasibility of the latter, which is a much smaller project involving cycle lanes being painted between parked cars and traffic lanes.
Smyth says the NTA’s decision on the greenways ignores the long-term return on cycling investment.
No matter how much red tarmacadam you put down, we’re never going to get those numbers.We need to be attracting middle-aged women, older women and children into cycling. I wouldn’t let my children cycle on the roads at the moment.
“The bang for buck you get from cycling infrastructure is huge when it compares to car and even public transport.
“The Dodder one is such a no-brainer. We spent €1.1 billion on the Luas, which takes 50 minutes from Tallaght into town. If you cycle from the Square, you could do it easily in 45 minutes with these lanes. It’s bananas.”
Fianna Fáil’s Dublin spokesman John Lahart questioned whether the €1.5 million in EU funding allocated to South Dublin County Council for the Dodder Greenway was spent, and if so on what.
“This is vital infrastructure that is now being neglected. Expansion works on the Luas Cross City line are important but so too is the development of the cycle ways,” he said.
This decision by Minister Ross is extremely short-sighted. This cycle lane network could remove thousands of commuters from congested peak hour traffic on our roads.In a society where obesity is becoming an ever increasing problem, an integrated network of cycle lanes would also provide thousands of people with an outlet to exercise on a daily basis.
“More must be done in the greater Dublin area to provide to safe cycling, we must not compromise one project over another.”
The cycle greenways were part of a €30m funding package for improved cycling facilities announced two years to improve the safety of cyclists, pedestrians and motorists.
“I am disappointed that this is being jeopardised and now put at risk,” Lahart added.
Labour Senator Kevin Humphreys said the decision shows a “total lack of interest” in cycling safety on the part of Shane Ross, the Minister for Transport.
“This isn’t even about building the infrastructure, it’s about the design of the greenways,” Senator Humphreys told TheJournal.ie.
This is going to set it back quite a distance. To be honest I’m infuriated with the Minister for Transport.
“He says it’s a doddle being Minister for Transport, but he hasn’t even listed his priorities.One of his priorities obviously should have the development of cycling infrastructure in the city.
“The number of cyclists has exploded, and they need to be safeguarded. Cycling greenways also help to tackle obesity; it hits all the Government targets.”
Cycling has rocketed in popularity in recent years, with 125% more cyclists crossing the canal cordon into Dublin city centre in 2015 compared to 2006.
According to the Road Safety Authority, 1,268 cyclists were injured in 2012 and 2013. However, a figure of 534 injuries in just one hospital in the country could indicate under-reporting.
Several cyclists have been injured or died on Irish roads in recent months, including a hit and run in Dublin, a collision with a taxi; a cyclist fatally knocked off his bike on a cycle lane; and deaths in Kerry, Louth and the death while cycling of a boy in Offaly just last week.
Humphreys called on Minister for Transport Shane Ross to intervene to save the projects.
“This is a major setback for cycling in the city. Investment in cycling infrastructure is far more beneficial than investment in road infrastructure.
It’s an indication as to the seeming total lack of interest from the Minister for Transport in cycling safety.
“Even in the depths of the recession there was money for DublinBikes and cycle lanes.
“They’re prioritising the Luas line, but there’s no reason the design work cannot continue with these major pieces of infrastructure.”