The Irish Times view on new cycling infrastructure

Part of cutting emissions involves discouraging driving in favour of cycling and walking - but public support requires a fuller outline of what is planned and why

The news of further moves by Dublin City Council to reallocate road space to the south of the city to cycling and away from motorists is part of a wider trend. It is also essential. Cutting carbon emissions requires people to drive less and cycle and use public transport more. And there is no shortage of public transport options in the areas affected.

The proposals, part of the city council’s “active travel” plans, centre on the south-east suburbs and city centre. They involve two schemes to provide continuous segregated cycle facilities from Clonskeagh to the city centre through Ranelagh and from Trinity College to Ballsbridge via Merrion Square. Space for driving – and parking – will be reduced as a result. Controversy will follow, as sure as night follows day.

The public are generally in favour of providing more facilities for cycling and walking – just not in ways they affect their own lives. The move to less polluting transport will result in better cycling facilities and public transport, and naturally it will also discommode people. There is no way around this; it is vital that the shift occurs.

More is to follow. The city council plans an exponential expansion of segregated cycle paths by the end of the decade. This will involve the construction of new paths and the improvement of many existing ones which are not fully separated from traffic. Further measures to discourage short car journeys, particularly into congested city centres, are also likely. Parking charges will rise further and congestion charges for driving into busy centres will be considered.

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Less driving is an essential part of a lower carbon future. But to win public support the Government and local councils also need to clearly lay out their wider plans, to show people the scale of what is being planned and how it will all fit together. There has been a failure, in particular, to demonstrate how this fits in with wider planning for denser housing and where essential car journeys will fit in. If a wider strategy is not outlined, the risk is of ongoing battles over particular projects and a slow rollout of this essential infrastructure.