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Courage the only currency for cycling reform

Thursday, 12th September, 2019 8:46am

Cycling organisations in Cork and beyond have urged the Government to take cycling funding up a gear in next year’s budget.

In its budget submission, Cyclist.ie, the Irish cycling advocacy network has strongly recommended that the Government allocate ten per cent of the land transport budget to cycling with immediate effect from Budget 2020.

Speaking to the Cork Independent, Chairperson of the Cork Cycling Campaign, Dean Venables, said that despite the fact that cycling provides the highest rate of return on investment of all transport projects, it receives less than two per cent of the land transport budget.

“We are looking for much more spending in terms of cycling. The benefit-to-cost ratio for cycling is much, much higher than any other types of transport infrastructure projects,” said Mr Venables.

He continued: “The reason for this is that there’s a huge health benefit to cycling, as well as environmental benefits. People who cycle are getting a level of physical activity that improves their overall health, so a lot of the costs associated with transport are actually being born by the health budget.

“The physical activity crisis which is part of western society and Irish society in particular is in large part due to the way in which we have motorised all of our transport.”

Cyclist.ie is also calling for increased funding for cycling infrastructure in Cork city which Mr Venables describes as “extremely poor” in places.

“Cork’s existing cycling network needs to be brought up to spec. We need to see a redesign of a lot of the junctions. In Ireland, cycling development projects tend to be quite small sections of road, but we never see cycling lanes going through junctions, and that’s where cyclists really need it the most,” said Mr Venables.

“We’re looking for a lot more in the way of segregated cycle lanes, such as the Lee to Sea Greenway we proposed,” he added.

The Lee to Sea Greenway is a walking, running and cycling route around Cork city and harbour proposed by the Cork Cycling Campaign.

The greenway would begin at Inniscarra Dam and follow the River Lee into Cork’s city centre before continuing along the western shore of Cork harbour and finishing at the harbour’s entrance.

According to Mr Venables, councillors and town planners must be willing to adapt and challenge existing methods if any change is to come about.

“The only currency that we really need is courage. It’s all very well for the Government to put a huge pot of money aside, but if councillors and town planners and all those responsible for these projects don’t have the courage to take on entrenched interests and habitual ways of doing things, we’re really not going to progress very far,” he concluded.

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