Work on cycling projects in Dublin has been suspended with traffic engineers diverted to the expansion of the city’s Luas light rail system in what has been described as “a major setback” for cycling there.
The news, greeted with dismay by cycling campaigners and politicians, broke the day before a cyclist was killed following a collision with a lorry in the Irish capital.
Dublin City Council says it was forced to halt cycling schemes such as the Dodder Greenway and the Grand Canal Greenway after it failed to receive a promised allocation of funding for cycling and walking projects from the country’s National Transport Authority, reports TheJournal.ie.
Dublin was ranked 15th in the 2015 edition of the Copenhagenize Index of the world’s most bicycle-friendly cities, and levels of cycling have risen by 125 per cent in the city over the past decade.
Last year the council said it was aiming for modal share of 15 per cent and was looking to ban cars from large parts of the city centre.
Its efforts saw Dublin City Council named as the local authority with the most cycling-friendly policies at the Cycle Planning Awards for the Greater Dublin Area Cycle Network Plan.
However, the NTA has said that the Luas Cross City project must be given priority and a shortage of traffic engineers means that personnel who were due to work on the design of the planned cycling routes will be transferred to the light rail project.
City councillor Paddy Smyth described the decision as “a 100 per cent regressive step.”
He said: “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.”
The councillor said that to reach modal share of 15 per cent and above, it was necessary “to attract people who don’t like cycling on main roads, beside buses and beside trucks and commuters. So we need these greenways.”
He added: “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.
Senator Kevin Humphreys, who until May this year was member of parliament for Dublin South East, said he was “infuriated” with the country’s minister for transport, Shane Ross.
“This isn’t even about building the infrastructure, it’s about the design of the greenways,” he said.
“This is going to set it back quite a distance. To be honest I’m infuriated with the Minister for Transport.
“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.”
“This is a major setback for cycling in the city. Investment in cycling infrastructure is far more beneficial than investment in road infrastructure.
“Even in the depths of the recession there was money for DublinBikes and cycle lanes,” he added.
“They’re prioritising the Luas line, but there’s no reason the design work cannot continue with these major pieces of infrastructure.”
Meanwhile a former Lord Mayor of Dublin has called for a ban on lorries after a woman in her 30s was killed in a collision with a lorry yesterday morning at the junction of Seville Place, which leads to the Port Tunnel, and Guild Street.
Christy Burke, now an independent councillor, told Herald.ie: "My heart goes out to the family of that poor young lady. This was a death that did not have to happen.
"We've been looking for a traffic-management plan for that area for years. The area around Seville Place must be immediately closed to trucks and HGVs.
"This is a residential area - there are two schools there, there are cyclists and a young population.
“The Port Tunnel is open for heavy vehicles. Every time there's a cyclist death like this, it inevitably involves an HGV," he added.
The victim is the ninth cyclist to have been killed in a road traffic collision in Ireland this year.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.