Almost €300 million in National Transport Authority (NTA) funding will be spent on cycling and walking projects across the State this year, more than 40 per cent of which has been allocated to the greater Dublin area.
The 2023 active travel fund will be used to progress 387 projects in the greater Dublin area, 250 across other regional cities and a further 502 projects across rural Ireland.
Some of the major projects include the Fairview to Amiens Street cycle route, which will receive €22 million; the Dodder greenway, which has been allocated more than €10 million; a new cycle and pedestrian bridge over the N40 in Cork connecting to Tramore Valley Park, which will receive €4.5 million; and the connection of the Waterford greenway from Bilberry to Waterford city centre at €4 million.
The total funding of €290 million for 2023, almost €60 million of which will be spent in the Dublin city area and €64 million in the three other Dublin local authority areas, is similar to the 2022 allocation, when €289 million was designated for walking and cycling routes around the State.
Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan said this year’s provision was entirely new funding and not grants which had been left unspent by local authorities since last year.
“This is all new money. We spent all our money last year and we delivered what we committed to last year and we’re going to do the same this year. If anything I’m starting to get calls from councils around the country saying ‘Could you not give us more?’ – that wasn’t happening two years ago.”
While previous years’ funding was used in the design and planning phases of many projects, the results of that preparation would this year emerge in the construction of infrastructure, Ryan said.
“What’s going to be different this year is we’re going to see a lot of the money that was spent on design work going to go into building work this year.”
There would be a particular emphasis this year on the development of safe routes to school, he said.
“There’s been dramatic change since my childhood, where most of us walked or cycled or took the bus to school, to today where the majority are driven. There’s no reason we shouldn’t switch that back. It liberates parents, cuts out about 30 per cent of the morning rush-hour traffic, eases gridlock, [results in] healthier happier children to my mind, and a better sense of community.”
Asked if he thought the Galway ring road would go ahead, following High Court orders this week that An Bord Pleanála must reconsider its decision to approve the project, Mr Ryan said a new transport plan was needed for the city which would meet climate targets for a 50 per cent reduction in emissions.
“The NTA, the local authority and our department are going to have to look at a new transport strategy for Galway that meets that climate target. You can’t just go ahead and build roads and have an induced traffic system that means you can’t meet the climate targets,” he said. “The existing plans, the existing way of doing things is not going to progress.”