Cycling Officers: What is their Background and What Should they Do?

At the recent meeting of to develop future strategy, there was discussion on the role of Cycling Officers in local authorities. Some of the comments showed a lack of awareness of’s position on the matter so this article was designed to clarify the subject. Cycle campaigners agree that there should be Cycling Officers in all local authorities but what should their background be and what should they do?

Cycling Officers were explicitly mentioned in the 2009 National Cycle Policy Framework where their sole task was defined as setting up a Cycle Forum but, since then, most local authorities have ignored the Department of Transport calls to appoint one. Where they have been appointed, some have an administrative background while others have a technical background and the underlying grade of appointed Officers includes Senior Executive Engineer, Administrative Officer and  Road Safety Officer with some working in “Sports Partnership” rather than “Transport”. In Kildare, the post of Cycling Officer was incorporated with the Road Safety Officer and the necessary qualifications uniquely included needing a driving licence but did not include being able to cycle.

In the past, the policy of was that the Cycling Officer should be appointed at an appropriate grade without specifying what that grade should be. At the October 2019 Council meeting of, a motion was passed that the Cycling Officer should be at Director of Services level and that the role of the Cycling Officer should be:

(1) to achieve an increased level of cycling and

(2) report progress or lack of it on an annual basis.

In large part, this was because in local authorities no-one is responsible for increasing the level of cycling. It also avoids the question of whether the required skillset should be technical or administrative. What is more important is the enthusiasm of the person for the job!

In 2005, following a road traffic crash in County Meath in which five schoolgirls were killed, safety procedures changed radically when Directors of Services in local authorities were given responsibility for new road safety procedures. This was a radical departure and led to an increased emphasis on health and safety in the upper levels of local authority senior management. In (most) local authorities, an equivalent radical departure is required in relation to cycling. Cycling Officers at Director of Services level with responsibility for increasing the level of cycling would be one step in ensuring that high quality is an integral part of new cycling infrastructure as low quality will not attract a high number of users.

Since the passing of the motion by Council, the Cyclist executive has raised the issue in its Pre-Budget submission to government but the Department of Transport has given no indication that it accepts’s position. Under it does, efforts to improve quality of cycling infrastructure will be handicapped.

So How Much did Shane Ross Really Allocate to Cycling in 2019?

In 2019, with the assistance of parliamentary questions by TDs of all parties as well as independents, estimated that the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (DTTAS) spent 1.4% of its capital budget on cycling in 2018. This article carries the results of a similar exercise for 2019 funding. Again it focuses on the DTTAS and ignores the funding of cycling by other government departments such as the Departments of Health or Education.

DTTAS funding for cycling is generally provided under the  heading of Land Transport but additional funding for cycling (greenways) was also provided under the heading of Tourism.

The principal source of data for Land Transport funding was the National Transport Authority (NTA) 2019 Annual Report Sustainable Transport Measures Grant.  The NTA lists all scheme according to the implementing local authority or other recipient. Some of their schemes are cycle only, while others are for more than one mode of transport. The proportion allocated to cycling was estimated on the basis set out in the following table:

The main categories of multi-mode projects were  – greenways, shared paths, shared space and BusConnects. Greenways and shared paths were divided on the basis of 50:50 expenditure while shared space was divided on the basis of 331/3  : 331/3  : 331/3 .  BusConnects was more problematic as its proportion of cycling can vary significantly. However, it was decided to proportion 10% of funding for cycling for a number of reasons. In particular, the primary objective was the need to reorganise the bus service but It was considered reasonable that a proportion should be allocated to cycling as the project includes segregated cycle facilities. It was decided to proportion 10% for cycling as that was the 2009 government target for cycling. There are grounds for arguing that 10% is too high and other arguments that 10% is too low but as BusConnects is a new project, it was decided that 10% was reasonable until its outcome in terms of provision of quality cycling infrastructure is clearer.

The NTA reported that in 2019 total expenditure on sustainable transport schemes was €39.6 million. Each NTA scheme was considered in turn and the appropriate percentage was applied in accordance with the type of scheme. In this way, NTA expenditure on cycling was estimated at  €17.9 million or 45% of NTA STMG grants. Tourism allocated €9.8 million to greenways, of which €4.9 million was deemed to be for cycling. Other cycling related spending by the DTTAS and NTA at €1 million included Cycle Right and Bikeweek, and was assumed to be 100% cycling related. Green Schools spending, with a budget of €2 million, was assumed to be 331/3% cycling related. Combining Land Transport and Tourism funding, total DTTAS expenditure on cycling in 2019 was estimated at €24.48 million.

The total Land Transport capital expenditure for 2019 was €1493 million. In calculating the appropriate amount, this figure was increased to take into account the Tourism expenditure on greenways so the overall total figure for expenditure by the DTTAS was €1,503 million. On this basis, the estimated proportion of DTTAS expenditure on cycling increased in 2019 from approximately 1.3% to 1.6% – a modest increase, which with ex-Minister Ross’s record, should surprise no-one.


RefGrant RecipientNTA GrantCycling Related NTA Grant % Cycling related/NTA Grant
CCC/Cork City Council€6,808,976€3,048,41944.8%
CCO/Cork County Council€1,327,678€138,10410.4%
DCUDCU Cycle Parking€62,104€62,1041
DLRCCDun Laoghaire Rathdown€1,413,278€956,87467.7%
FCCFingal County Council€2,292,155€1,143,94449.9%
GCCGalway County Council€620,140€280,75745.3%
KCCKildare County Council€728,138€380,13652.2%
LCCCLimerick City & County Council€3,327,944€1,290,21738.8%
MCCMeath Coiunty Council€2,650,571€245,3239.3%
NTA Regional Bikes Capital CostsCapital Costs€309,854€309,854
SDCCSouth Dublin County Council€1,758,660€1,174,07766.8%
An TaisceGreenschools Cycle & scooter parking€124,617€62,30950.0%
UCDPed Cycle facility€119,884€59,94250.0%
WCCWicklow County Council€399,077€138,97434.8%
WDCCWaterford City and County Council€1,722,907€701,06840.7%
Grand Total€39,622,891€17,921,78245.2%
A breakdown of expenditure within local authorities is available here.


Gross Voted Capital* €000s  
DTTAS – Dept Total Gross Voted Capital €2,005,308€2,343,869
DTTAS –  Land Transport Total Gross Voted Expenditure€1,660,507€1,934,981
DTTAS – Total Land Transport Gross Voted Capital€1,242,591€1,493,523
DTTAS – Tourism Greenways Gross Voted Capital€3,255,000€9,798,000
DTTAS – Total Land Transport+Greenways Gross Voted Capital€1,245,846€1,503,321
* Source Databank  
NTA Expenditure on Cycling   
NTA Annual Expenditure STMG€34,700€39,622
% Cycling 45.2%
NTA Cycling Expenditure €17,921
Traffic Management€6,900(€7,480)
Alternative Estimate of NTA Expenditure on Cycling* €13,205 
 *Note – NTA expenditure on cycling was calculated differently in 2018 and 2019.  
Other DTTAS/NTA Expenditure  
Cycle Right/Bikeweek€1,000€1,000
Green Schools€2,000€2,000
Other DTTAS/NTA Expenditure€3,288€6,559
Total DTTAS Expenditure on Cycling€16,492€24,480
% Total DTTAS Expenditure on Cycling*1.3%1.6%
Note there is a discrepancy in the 2018 estimates of percentage expenditure on cycling between 1.4% at the start of the article and 1.3% at the end. This is due to slight differences in the method of calculation.

Kildare Town – Council Fails to Provide for Cycling

Kildare County Council recently carried out Covid-19 works in Kildare Town. Part of the works included the reallocation of space in the town square from car parking to tables and benches for people to sit and relax. The change in the environment from a place dominated by cars to a place for people to linger is striking and has deservedly been warmly welcomed.

However, the same cannot be said of the second works in the town on Cleamore Road (Academy Street). Cleamore Road is approximately 250m long and contains a school, community building, shops, factory unit and private houses. Its cross section varies from 7.5m at the lower section, 8-9m in the middle section and increases to 15m at the upper end. Traffic has been restricted to one direction and footpaths have been widened to give more room for social distancing.  The photographs below show the result of the works.

Cyclists from the north west of the town have to take a circuitous diversionary route via Grey Abbey Road to access the school as no contraflow cycle track has been provided. Rather than providing a School Street or School Zone to enable children to safely cycle to school, the work is more likely to encourage cycling on the footpath than to encourage more cyclists.

The works have been heavily criticised by cycle campaigners for its failure to properly provide for cycling. Covid funding was intended to provide for increased walking and cycling, not walking OR cycling. Over 1000 children attend the adjacent St Brigid’s School but according to the 2016 Census, only 7 children cycled to primary school. As can be seen from the photograph, cyclists are expected to share the road with cars.  Few parents allow young children to share the roads with cars anywhere, so why does the Council expect them to do so in Kildare Town?

Kildare County Council made a short video of the works which can be seen here. A council engineer describes how the works allowed the footpath on one side  to be widened a minimum of 3m and on the other side to nearly as much. While this is true of the lower section, it is patently untrue in relation to the middle section. As can be seen from the photograph, there is room for parking on both sides of the road and a footpath on just one side ( and also hatching for vehicles) but there is no room for a dedicated cycle path. To crown matters, parking on the west side is perpendicular to the road – just what is needed for reversing cars to deter any cyclists with doubts about cycling safety. Further along the road, there are road markings which indicate “Private Parking” in front of the factory unit so the Council acquiesces in the decision to allocate public space to parking for a private company. The Design Manual for Urban Roads and Streets sets out a road user hierarchy with pedestrians at the top, followed by cyclists and with drivers of private cars at the bottom. The design for Cleamore Road ignores this but councils get away with such decisions as they are judge and jury on the matter.

In Ireland, cycling has flatlined nationally for the last twenty years. Unless Kildare County Council starts to provide high quality cycle infrastructure,  it won’t change in Kildare for the next twenty. In the July Stimulus,  Kildare only received half the allocation of similar commuting counties such as Meath and Wicklow. If the council continues to ignore the needs of cyclists with designs such as Cleamore Street and even worse recent examples in other Municipal Districts, Kildare will be lucky to get half in the future.

Government’s July Stimulus -Does It Deserve a Welcome? has stated that it is broadly welcomes the recently announced €88m stimulus funding for active travel. If welcomes the funding, it should give credit to the Minister where credit is due. As did not name the Minister responsible, this article will name him – so thank you Minister Shane Ross, or rather former Minister Ross. The announcement of 2020 funding was made in October 2019 by the then Minister Shane Ross. Yes, he may have got mixed up over the details of the funding of cycling, but he is responsible for the funding allocation. states that cycling campaigners around the country need to try to ensure that the monies are spent wisely by the local authorities as there are a number of listed projects that are of dubious benefit to cyclists and pedestrians. It does not explain how the campaigners are supposed to do this considering that most local authorities have no Cycle Forums and a lot of the proposed schemes will have no drawings to examine. states that there are number of dubious projects but gives no indication if it is a big number or small number.

In relation to cycling schemes, the current Minister invited local authorities to submit proposals for active travel schemes with the result that in most local authorities, schemes were proposed by road engineers. did urge caution but it is unclear exactly who should be cautious – cyclists, the Minister, local authorities? is on record as being in favour of the re-education of road engineers. It is contradictory if on the one hand, want road engineers to be re-educated and on the other hand it welcomes their proposals for expenditure of €88 million which includes dubious schemes. In Kildare, a number of the proposed cycle schemes actually worsen conditions for cyclists.

In South Dublin, Kildare, Meath and Wicklow, local authorities have minimal allocations for cycling, with most funds being spent on pedestrian improvements such as footpaths and crossings. This confirms the necessity of to continue to monitor the expenditure on walking and cycling separately. It is too easy for councils to combine the two modes and allocate significantly more for walking than cycling schemes as the latter are much more controversial. did criticise the proposal on greyways. The attempt to convert hard shoulders to cycling infrastructure was tried five or six years ago and was soon abandoned – presumably on the grounds that they did nothing to increase the level of cycling. In 2020, the idea was revived with no less than seven counties proposing greyways. Now you can believe that it was random chance that seven counties happened to think of the concept of hard shoulder conversion at the same time. An alternative more realistic explanation is that officials in the Department of Transport were behind the idea of hard shoulder conversions – not because it was an effective method of increasing cycling but because it was an ineffective method of doing so. Just because we have a new Minister for Transport doesn’t mean that the Department officials, who were in charge when cycling got just 2% of transport funding, have thrown in the towel. They haven’t gone away you know!

As for the new team of politicians in charge of the Department of Transport, it was never a realistic possibility that there would be a sea-change in management in Kildare Street. We should give them at least a year, if not two, before we judge them.

July Stimulus Funding: Response to Projects & Proposed Motions in relation to Parson Street

The Department of Transport/National Roads Authority has allocated €55M to local authorities to promote increased walking and cycling.

It has to be said that Maynooth Cycling Campaign is underwhelmed by some of the approved projects and the amount of funding which Kildare has received as a result, compared to similar councils in Wicklow, Meath and Fingal.

When the UK Department of Transport offered funding to their local authorities, it pointed out that filtered permeability was the cheapest and easiest method of improving conditions for pedestrians and cyclists. They also informed the local authorities that work would have to be completed within three months. In Ireland, nearly six months after the outbreak and after traffic levels has increased to close to pre-Covid-19 levels, nothing in Kildare has been implemented so far.

The proposed schemes are as follows:

1. Parson Street – Covid Funding (temp works) €50,000 – Work entails trialling traffic management & shared space for cycling.

Maynooth Cycling Campaign strongly supports this measure and is opposed on health and safety grounds to the retention of two lanes of motorised traffic. In general, we support Part 8 public consultation and approval by elected councillors but this measure stems from the global pandemic. As the works are temporary and it is more than five months since the lockdown was announced, it does not appear that bringing this proposal to Part 8 is treating the issue as an emergency. 

2. Rathcoffey/Beaufield/Newtown – Covid Funding (temp works) €50,000 – Work entails trialling traffic management & reallocation of road space to cycling (& walking)
Maynooth Cycling Campaign strongly supports this measure.

3. Dublin Road – Covid Funding (temp works) €10,000 – Work entails trialling segregated cycle lanes.
Maynooth Cycling Campaign strongly supports this measure.

4. Mill Street – Covid Funding (temp works) €15,000 – Work entails reallocation of road space from cyclists to pedestrians, and cyclists “taking the lane”
Mill Street is a key transport corridor. The Rye Bridge is particularly narrow with inadequate footpaths and pedestrians stepping off the footpath onto the cycle path. It is proposed to improve conditions for pedestrians at the expense of cyclists. Maynooth Cycling Campaign recommends that pedestrians and cyclists continue to share space as the consequences of a pedestrian/cyclist collision is significantly less rather than the consequences of a cyclist/vehicle collision.

5. Celbridge Road – Covid Funding (temp works) €15,000 – Work entails an additional entrance to the Gaelscoil and indicative cycle lanes on Celbridge Road.
Maynooth Cycling Campaign supports the opening of an additional entrance but does not support indicative cycle lanes on the Celbridge Road. The Celbridge Road is a regional road which is used by all forms of traffic including HGVs and is above the AADT threshold of 2,000 vehicles per day which Irish and international guidance recommends for sharing. Indicative cycle lanes on this type of road are only suitable for “brave” cyclists and are not AAA standard – for all ages and abilities. Paint does not safeguard vulnerable road users.

6. Main Street – Covid Funding (temp works ) €15,000 – Work entails worsening conditions for pedestrians and cyclists.
Maynooth Cycling Campaign supports the reallocation of space for business but is opposed to worsening conditions for pedestrians and cyclists. On Main Street, there is provision for two-three lanes of live traffic and two parking lanes. Cycle facilities are poor quality and discontinuous. In contrast to what the Council claims, the cycle facilities are well used for both north south and east west movement. The Design Manual for Roads and Streets (DMURS) established a road user hierarchy with pedestrians at the top followed by cyclists and with private cars last. Despite this, the proposal is to increase space for adjacent cafes and restaurants by removing cyclists from dedicated (albeit poor quality and discontinuous) tracks and provide shared space between pedestrians and cyclists.  Shared space is a low quality solution – bad for both pedestrians and cyclists. Maynooth Cycling Campaign supports the allocation of additional space for businesses but instead recommends that the cycle lanes should replace the the limited number of parking spaces . There is ample room where there is two lanes of traffic ie between Straffan Road and the Old Dunboyne Road. A detailed design is required for the section between Straffan Road and Mill Street because 1990s design prioritised three traffic lanes.   Provision would also have to be made for business deliveries and disabled parking using the lanes or alternatives.

7. & 8. Maynooth Town Centre & Celbridge Road Design – permanent works (longer term)
Maynooth Cycling Campaign welcomes these proposals but will reserve an opinion on them until we get an indication of what is proposed.

Maynooth Cycling Campaign strongly supports trials where feasible. They are widely used internationally to convince politicians and communities of the overall benefit of active travel schemes. The vast majority of them subsequently were made permanent and changed the minds of many of, though not all, former opponents.The trials should be given a fair chance, If they don’t work, they can be scrapped but if they are a success there will be multiple benefits to road safety, air quality, physical and mental health, and the climate crisis.

So in summary, of the six Covid-19 measures, Maynooth Cycling Campaign supports the three trials and half the Celbridge Road proposal. The two other proposed measures will worsen conditions for cyclists.


Greyways – An Irish Solution to an Irish Problem

A Greyway?

It is with some concern that that we read about “Greyways” in the details of the government’s July Stimulus package. We googled “Greyways” and found no reference to Greyways pertaining to cycle infrastructure. There is also no reference to Greyways in the National Cycle Manual, the Design Manual for Urban Road and Streets or Rural Cycleway Design. So it appears to be yet another Irish solution to an Irish problem. Lack of quality cycle infrastructure is not an Irish problem – it is a world wide problem in many if not most countries.

Converting hard shoulders to cycle infrastructure is not a recent idea. Back in 2012-13, the Department of Transport funded a number of such schemes. An example was the R420 between Tullamore and Clara in Offaly.

As far as I am aware, one of the requirements for the scheme was that local councils had to include counters to measure the effectiveness of the scheme but there appears to never have been any publication of the results. Nevertheless, although there was no official announcement of its failure, the initiative was soon abandoned and the Department made clear that they were not going to fund such infrastructure in the future.

The July Stimulus package claims:

             “This would provide better and safer cycle facilities, between towns and villages,         facilitate modal shift and also help to reduce vehicle speeds because of reduced    carriageway widths. “

The addition of cycle logos has been proven not to protect vulnerable road users. While such hard shoulders are used by road cyclists, most people perceive them not to be safer especially where the speed limit is 80 or 100 km/hr?  They also do nothing to facilitate modal shift. They may help to reduce vehicle speeds of the majority of drivers but what is the evidence that they reduce the vehicle speed of the fastest drivers? We may be premature in jumping to conclusions about the quality of proposed infrastructure but we will wait and see.

Model for Cycling in Rural Ireland now needs Cash Injection

Clon Bikes

Today, Clonakilty is best known for its black pudding and its characteristic Irish architecture. It possesses no greenways or cycle lanes but despite this, the people of Clonakilty have come together as a community to promote cycling in a way that would put to shame government supported SmarterTravel towns such as Westport or Dungarvan. It holds an annual Bike Festival (just over) which went global this year. It has its own community bike workshop ‘The Bike Circus’ which also runs an active apprenticeship program. The town has a chapter of Cycling without Age/Wind in Your Hair and has its own Trio E-bike which they use to bring out elderly and sick from hospital or nursing homes. The most remarkable aspect of the cycling culture of the town, however, is that they have their own bike share with almost no financial assistance from Cork County Council or the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport.

Tom O’Donovan of O’Donovan’s Hotel was one of the founders who established the Clonakilty Bike Share 6 years ago with some 60 bikes. He recalls that Cork County Council refused to give them public space for bike hubs so a number of hotels offered a section of their car parking area. With contributions from the hotels and private local sponsors and a small financial contribution from government bodies, they purchased bicycles, paid for parking racks and developed a website through which people could book and pay for renting. Most of the work was carried out by community volunteers so any money raised from renting was reinvested in the scheme. While the bike scheme originated in Clonakilty, it soon spread out to hotels in a number of locations across West Cork as far as Courtmacsherry and Rosscarbery. The scheme allowed users to stay overnight in different places and ensured that more money was retained in the local community than from individual day trippers.

Clonakilty also procured funding to erect directional signage designating a number of nearby cycling routes along quiet roads. Although funding has been available from late 2018 the County Council Area Engineer refuses to erect the signage as he is concerned about the legal consequences to Cork County Council of encouraging cycling on quiet roads. (Apparently, he has no concerns about the consequences to the Council of cyclists travelling on heavily trafficked national or regional roads). The Area Engineer and his Senior Engineer, want an independent safety assessor to tell them that it is safe before they agree to erect the signage. If they have such doubts about the safety of the roads, it is potentially negligent for them not to alert the public in general and cyclists in particular as to the nature of hazard and the risks of exposure.

The Clonakilty bike share was already facing increased maintenance costs due to an ageing fleet of bikes. Now, the rising cost of insurance is the straw that breaks the camel’s back and Clonakilty has been forced to shelve its bike share. Clonakilty is a model for a small community based cycling town. At a time when

(1)  A new Programme for Government prioritising cycling has been agreed
(2)  Over €1 million has been invested in bike share schemes in Cork, Limerick and Galway
(3)  Due to Covid-19, the health authorities urge people to walk or cycle where possible,
4)  The NTA are offering funding to encourage active travel and
5)  Cork City proposes to expand its bike share,

it is ironic that the Clonakilty bike share would be allowed to fail. While West Cork politicians have been vocal in their support, Clonakilty has received almost no state funding. Clonakilty’s most famous cyclist is of course Michael Collins who was born nearby. Looking down from heaven (or up from the other place if that is your politics), what must he think of Cork County Council and current councillors.

Programme for Government 2020

PfG 2020

This is Maynooth Cycling Campaign’s response to the section of the Programme for Government which impacts on cycling. It is divided into five parts.

1.   Financial Commitment
The Government will commit to an allocation of 10% of the total transport capital budget for cycling projects and an allocation of 10% of the total capital budget for pedestrian infrastructure. The Government’s commitment to cycling and pedestrian projects will be set at 20% of the 2020 capital budget (€360 million) per year for the lifetime of the Government.

The total spend on walking and cycling infrastructure includes committed funding from the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport for active travel, greenways and an agreed pedestrian and cycling allocation from the Bus Connects programme.
Additional funding to meet the annual ceiling will be provided through the Recovery Fund, with a focus on jobs-intensive infrastructure. 

The first sentence is straight forward, clear and unambiguous except for the reference to the total transport capital budget rather than the Land Transport capital budget. The former includes investment in other areas such as marine, civil aviation and tourism – it would seem unfair to impact on them but it is thought that this was just a minor error in the text. The second sentence sets the financial commitment at €360 Million per year for the lifetime of the next government ie 20% of the 2020 budget allocation. was looking for a straight percentage which would increase if overall capital expenditure went up and would go down if overall capital expenditure was reduced. The one area of possible concern is what percentage of Bus Connect will apply to cycling. Bus Connect has the potential to swallow up a lot of the funding intended for cycling depending on motives.

2.    We will:

        • Expand and enhance the expertise on active travel needed to dramatically improve infrastructure and participation both in the NTA and local authorities, including by establishing Regional Cycle Design Offices, co-located in the seven Regional Design Offices for roads, to support local authorities.
        • Dramatically increase the number of children walking and cycling to primary and secondary school by mandating the Department of Transport to work with schools across Ireland, local authorities, the Green- Schools programme and local initiatives, including Cycle Bus and School Streets.
        • Widen the eligibility of the Bike to Work scheme. We will provide an increased proportionate allowance for e-bikes and cargo bikes.
        • Ramp up the Cycle Right programme to ensure that all children are offered cycling training in primary school.
        • Conduct a review of road traffic policy and legislation to prioritise the safety of walking and cycling.
        • Conduct a review of road traffic policy and legislation to prioritise the safety of walking and cycling.

While the additional measures listed do not specify any particular commitment or targets, they are all measures that cyclist campaigners would welcome. Linking the implementation of cycle network plans to a suitably qualified Cycling Officer with clear powers and roles is a major advance. In the 2009 National Cycling Policy Framework, the only task of the Cycling Officer was to set up a Cycle Forum in a local authority. The reference indicates movement towards policy, namely that the appropriate level for a Cycling Officer is Director of Services. The emphasis on travel to school and school streets is also warmly welcomed. Travel to school is important as it ingrains good behaviour at a young age. The promotion of Cycle Buses is a little surprising as Cycle Buses are a short term reaction to the absence of quality infrastructure and it is hoped that Cycle Buses will have a short life. has long campaigned for increased support for the purchase of E-bikes and cargo bikes, comparable to the support for the purchase of E-cars. A review of road traffic policy and legislation to prioritise the safety of walking and cycling suggests that the issue of enforcement may finally be addressed.

3.   Greenways
We will lead the development of an integrated national greenways strategy. This has the potential to transform modal shift and improve air quality and public health.
This commitment to cycling will enable us to achieve the huge ambition of developing an integrated national network of greenways to be used by commuters, leisure cyclists and tourists. We will continue the coordinated approach between central government, local authorities, and agencies to deliver on this ambition.

The reference to a national greenways strategy is welcome as in recent years the DTTAS had moved away from references to a “national” network. The Programme states that a national greenway strategy has the potential to transform modal shift and improve air quality and public health. In theory, this is correct but in practice, conditions imposed by local authorities and by bodies such as Waterways Ireland on widths, surfacing, lack of lighting and access have the effect of suppressing demand by both utility and recreational cyclists. Furthermore, to transform modal split, provision for cycling will be required between proposed greenways and adjacent towns and villages. In the past, proposed greenways have excluded such links.

4.   Transport Infrastructure
In relation to new transport infrastructure, the Government is committed to a 2:1 ratio of expenditure between new public transport infrastructure and new roads over its lifetime. This ratio will be maintained in each Budget by the Government. In the event of an underspend on roads, this will not impact on public transport spending.
Essential road and public transport maintenance and upkeep budgets will be fully protected to ensure continued public safety and connectivity.
We will develop and implement the existing strategies for our cities, such as the Greater Dublin Area Transport Strategy, the Galway Transport Strategy, the draft Cork Metropolitan Area Transport Strategy, as well as strategies being developed for Waterford and Limerick, and other projects progressing through planning.
We are committed to maintaining the existing road network to a high standard and funding safety improvements.
We will continue to invest in new roads infrastructure to ensure that all parts of Ireland are connected to each other.

The commitment to rebalance transport investment to 2:1 between public transport and roads is warmly welcomed. It is unclear what the sentence “In the event of an underspend on roads, this will not impact on public transport spending” means as there is unlikely to be any underspend on roads. If it merely means that underspend on roads will not be transferred to public transport and active travel, that is reasonable as long as underspend on public transport and active travel will not be transferred to roads, once investment on active travel has been ramped up to the levels agreed.

It is right and proper that essential road and public transport maintenance and upkeep budgets will be protected. However, as the cost of essential maintenance is questionable, it will require close examination to ensure that essential road maintenance budgets are not suddenly inflated. Old habits die hard and one of the big challenges for the new Ministers will be to ensure that their Department is singing off the one hymn sheet!
The undertaking to develop the existing transport strategies in Cork, Galway and Limerick will be warmly welcomed by our colleagues in the regional cities as the current transport strategies are based on negligible increases in levels of cycling. This clause has the potential to enable the cities to develop systems fit for the 21st century with walking and cycling at the heart of their transport strategies.

5.   Carry out a comprehensive review of PPNs and LECPs, to ensure that they are fit for purpose for climate action and community development

This final clause is generally overlooked by cycling advocates as it is not centrally concerned with cycling per se but it also has great potential to focus on local authorities which are “half-hearted” in their enthusiasm for public participation.


The Programme for Government has been described as like a visit from Santa. we would hope that it will work out that way. However, we recall a union leader who promised his members that a government pay award would be like “getting money from a cash dispenser” but things did not quite turn out as thought. While the Programme holds out great potential for Ireland being a leader rather than a laggard in cycling and walking, we stopped believing in Santa a long time ago. We wish the new Transport Ministers, senior and junior well and look forward to working closely with them in the future. wishes Eamon Ryan TD, the new Minister for Climate Action, Communication Networks and Transport, the very best in his new role.

Eamon Ryan

Minister Ryan’s appointment comes on the back of the inclusion of some very progressive sustainable transport commitments in the agreed Programme for Government (PfG), especially in regard to cycling and walking. On funding, the new government has committed to:

… an allocation of 10% of the total transport capital budget for cycling projects and an allocation of 10% of the total capital budget for pedestrian infrastructure. The Government’s commitment to cycling and pedestrian projects will be set at 20% of the 2020 capital budget (€360 million) per year for the lifetime of the Government. (p13)

This is potentially game-changing when one considers that the spend on cycling in 2018 was just €12.64 million (or less than 2% of the transport budget) – see Pre-Budget Submission 2020. It opens up the feasibility of funding high quality cycling infrastructure in all of our cities and towns, and providing greenway infrastructure connecting into the heart of our built-up areas, and schools, sports grounds, shops and other destinations.

The new emphasis on cycling and walking in the PfG comes at a time when the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (DTTAS) – as it was called up until a few days ago – is preparing a new Sustainable Mobility Policy (SMP). responded to the public consultation on the SMP early in 2020 – see Submissions on New Sustainable Mobility Policy – and we are awaiting the Department’s analysis of the submissions received. It is timely for a new Minister with a low carbon vision of mobility to take office when a new plan is being drafted.

The other point to highlight is the need for the new Minister to create the structures to enable several government departments, a handful of state agencies, and all 31 local authorities (LAs) to be aligned in their policies around walking and cycling promotion. One of the failings in the implementation of the ambitious 2009 National Cycle Policy Framework (NCPF) was the inaction on ensuring good coordination and cooperation between all bodies.

It is essential that Minister Ryan makes sure there is strong alignment between the key departments of Health (Minister Stephen Donnelly), Housing, Local Government and Heritage (Minister Darragh O’Brien), Education (Minister Norma Foley), Social Protection, Community and Rural Development and the Islands (Minister Heather Humphreys), and Children, Disability, Equality and Integration (Minister Roderic O’Gorman) so that a new culture of active travel can emerge, and become part of everyday life in Ireland. Additionally, local authorities are crucial actors because they will be responsible for so much of the change, but their expertise on cycling development varies from strong to weak.

The changes are already underway with COVID-19 prompting local authorities to reallocate space for people on foot and bikes – see for example Dublin City Covid Mobility Programme. This process is being facilitated by funding from the National Transport Authority and by an update to DMURS (the Design Manual for Urban Roads and Streets) entitled Interim Advice Note COVID-19 Pandemic Response.

The opportunity to be seized by the Minister now is to harness the public appetite for change and lead the way in transforming our cities and towns into the healthy, convivial and economically vibrant places they need to be.

We wish the Minister the very best of luck.

(This article previously appeared on the website.)