Detailed plans for the development of a major cycling network across Irish cities, towns and villages have been set out in a Government strategy for delivering on climate action commitments.
The Annex of Actions on this year’s Climate Action Plan gives details of specific projects mooted across transport, agriculture, retro-fitting, just-transition policy, energy and land use.
Approving the document on Tuesday, the Government described it as a clear path toward “cutting emissions, creating a cleaner, greener economy and society and protecting us from the devastating consequences of climate change”.
Among a long list of greener transport ambitions, cycling is to take up more space on roads and proposals to encourage greater public participation, crucially through safe and widespread infrastructure, are to be drawn up.
By early next year, a 'National Cycling Manual' is to be finalised by the National Transport Agency (NTA), while several greenway projects will be approved and promoted. Cycle network plans will be developed for each local authority in the second half of next year, with road networks assessed to identify how more space can be given over to pedestrians and bikes.
There are plans for a Greater Dublin Area Network consisting of 500km of bike and walking infrastructure, which is to be delivered by the NTA and Department of Transport by 2025. Regional city networks will extend to a total of 275km under the proposals.
Amended legislation will see increased fixed notice fines for the drivers of vehicles found parking on footpaths, cycle tracks or in bus lanes.
Redesigned bus networks
Over the next two years public consultation on redesigned bus networks is to take place in Galway, Limerick and Waterford and, by early next year, officials will develop plans for bus options in Carlow, the first of a number of such localised services.
A pilot of hydrogen fuel cell double decker buses will be completed by the end of next year. The document commits to the introduction of a National Youth Travel Card for rail services by the second half of next year.
It says road officials will roll out traffic management infrastructure to provide for variable speed limits on the M50 motorway in Dublin, aimed at reducing traffic congestion, next year.
Legislation is to be reviewed with a view to ensuring local authorities have the necessary powers to introduce low and zero emission traffic zones.
The Department of Transport will award a contract to replace 78,000 lights in the southwest region as part of the national public lighting energy efficiency project and begin replacement of the remaining 202,000. It will also begin a review of the effectiveness of data collection procedures measuring the impact of extreme weather events and longer-term climate change.
In the agriculture sector, measures include a reduction in chemical nitrogen use to an “absolute maximum” of 325,000 tonnes annually by 2030. The strategy mentions improved controls for chemical fertilizer use and sets out plans to up-skill farmers in the areas of beef management, climate mitigation and adaptation practices. The current land area under organic production will grow from 74,000 hectares to 350,000 by the end of the decade, it says.