In response to parliamentary questions, Minister Shane Ross is very keen to point out that in addition to funding from the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (DTTaS), the government also funds cycling through other departments including the Department of Community and Rural Regeneration and the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government. We decided to investigate the contribution to cycling by these departments.
Michael Ring is Minister for the Department of Community and Rural Affairs. In May 2018, he announced the allocation of €4.5 million. This was followed in September by an additional allocation of €8 million. These rounds of funding were under the Community Enhancement Programme (CEP) which supports disadvantaged communities throughout the country by providing capital grants to community groups so none of this funding was for cycling or cycle related projects.
In January 2019, the Minister and Fáilte Ireland jointly announced funding of €10.8 million for 78 outdoor recreation infrastructure projects. Of the 78, 19 were identified as wholly or partially cycle related at an estimated cost of €1,680,786.
In February 2019, the Minister made a major announcement with an allocation of €62 million for Rural Regeneration and Development projects across the country at a cost per project ranging from €20,000 for to €10.2 Million. These included three cycle related projects. The first was the development of a cycle network in Mayo/Galway at a cost of €75,000. The second was for a navigation/greenway project in County Meath at a cost of €845,250. While the cycling component of this scheme is open to debate, it is assumed for the purposes of this article that 25% or €211,312 is for cycling. The third was a flagship project of national importance – the development of mountain biking trails at a cost of €10.2 million. Mountain biking is a sport which is growing in popularity but it is a niche activity. Even among current cyclists it is very much a minority sport and has little, if anything, to do with utility or everyday cycling. Although funding was provided by the Department of Community, it could equally have been provided by that section of government dealing with sport or tourism or even transport. Omitting the mountain biking scheme, the total component allocated for everyday cycling from the other two amounts to €286,312 so in total, Minister Ring allocated approximately €2 million to cycling out of €86 million.
In November 2018, as part of Project Ireland 2040, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Eoghan Murphy, Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, announced an allocation of €100 million for 88 projects under the Urban Regeneration and Development Fund (URDF). The schemes were classified under various headings including community development, culture, specific capital projects, energy development, integrated urban development, library development, public realm regeneration, road/strategic infrastructure and strategic acquisitions.
There may be a number of projects which involved a small component of cycling eg projects involving public realm improvements but in isolation these are unlikely to make any significant impact to the level of cycling either locally or nationally. Cycling is only explicitly mentioned in the five:
|Cherrywood Public Parks, Greenways & Attenuation||Dublin||
|Sustainable Swords (Category B)||Dublin||
|Cycling & Walking||Galway||
|Smarter Travel Killarney
(Link & Public Realm)
|Castlebar Greenway Link||Mayo||
The total value of the five is estimated at €5.7 million but the cycling component is likely to be of the order of €1-2 million at most out of an allocation of €100 million.
We warmly welcome this additional contribution of approximately €3.5 million to everyday cycling by Ministers Ring and Murphy. However, this is a long way from Cyclist.ie’s campaign for 10% of the DTTaS Land Transport capital budget or €149 Million based on the 2019 Department of Finance allocation. As everyday cycling is essentially about transport, the heavy lifting for funding cycling rightly belongs in the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport. If that department fails to provide adequate funding, the primary responsibility rests with Shane Ross, the Minister in Charge.