Spend on cycling infrastructure falls sharply in past three years

Fianna Fáil’s Robert Troy says ‘drastic’ decrease in State funding ‘makes no sense’

The number of cyclists in Dublin city has more than doubled over the past six years, with more than 95,000 people using bikes in the capital every day. Photograph: Getty Images

The number of cyclists in Dublin city has more than doubled over the past six years, with more than 95,000 people using bikes in the capital every day. Photograph: Getty Images

 

Government spending on cycling infrastructure has plummeted over the past three years despite a dramatic rise in the number of people switching to bikes for everyday journeys.

Figures provided by the Department of Transport show almost €19 million was allocated to cycling infrastructure in 2015. This almost halved to €10.5 million in 2016, and fell further to €7 million last year.

Some €8 million is earmarked for cycling infrastructure this year, according to Minister for Transport Shane Ross.

The number of cyclists in Dublin city has more than doubled over the past six years, with more than 95,000 people using bikes in the capital every day

Fianna Fáil’s transport spokesman Robert Troy said the “drastic” decrease in funding “makes no sense”.

“At a time now, when we have a huge increase in cycling, the Minister is drastically cutting the funding, and it is simply not good enough.

“This is a decision that must be reversed. At a time when the department’s investment and spending is increasing across the board, he is slashing specific cycling infrastructural funds.”

The number of cyclists in Dublin city has more than doubled over the past six years, with more than 95,000 people using bikes in the capital every day.

Sharp rise

In its most recent report on commuting country-wide, the Central Statistics Office noted “one of the most notable changes” between 2011 and 2016 “was the sharp rise in the number of people who cycled to work”. The number rose by nearly 43 per cent from 39,803 to 56,837.

Colm Ryder of the Dublin Cycling Campaign said underfunded infrastructure was preventing an even greater shift toward cycling, and contributing to a rise in cyclist deaths.

When you look at the amount of money spent on transport overall, cycling is allocated approximately 1 or 2 per cent. The norm Europe-wide is in the region of 10 per cent

Six cyclists have been killed on Ireland’s roads so far this year, compared to four for the same period last year. The Road Safety Authority estimates more than 100 cyclists are seriously injured in collisions every year.

“The number of deaths this year is awful, higher than they were this time last year, which was already one of the highest figures in the last 10 years,” Mr Ryder said. "There are a number of different factors for this, but there is no doubt infrastructure plays a crucial part.

“When you look at the amount of money spent on transport overall, cycling is allocated approximately 1 or 2 per cent. The norm Europe-wide is in the region of 10 per cent. The United Nations Environment Programme recommends a figure of 20 per cent towards cycling and walking. So, the department is away behind.”

Five cities

A spokesman for the Department of Transport said more than €110 million in capital funding would go towards cycling and walking infrastructure in Dublin, Galway, Limerick, Cork and Waterford over the coming three years. Another €55 million is to be spent on Greenways outside the five cities.

“The Minister is dedicated to implementing cycling policy, improving cycling infrastructure and supports many cycling measures, including the delivery of the Cycle Right training programme and funding campaigns by the RSA to promote safe cycling,” he said.

“In addition to securing this significant budget, the Minister has most recently also agreed to support the minimum passing distance legislation, as well as supporting limited speed limits in urban residential areas to promote safer environments for cyclists and walkers.”

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