OPINION: Following the voting through of ambitious plans for the development of five new cycling lanes in Killarney town, the €5.6 million allocated to the county for the provision of active travel routes must be spent immediately and on high quality, well designed changes to our roads and streets, says Anluan Dunne of the Kerry Cycling Campaign, a voluntary membership group seeking a cycling-friendly Kerry for people of all ages and abilities
THE Kerry Cycling Campaign welcomes the recent funding programmes from central government to support the development of active travel routes in Kerry.
Funding of €5.6 million to support the development of active travel network plans, cycleways and upgraded footpaths in County Kerry was announced by Minister for Transport, Eamon Ryan.
We have consulted with the council, the Transport Infrastructure Ireland’s roads design office and local representatives in the past few months to ensure these projects were both proposed and applied for.
It is brilliant to now see the projects receive the financial support needed to have them implemented.
Most importantly, the development of active travel network plans for Tralee, Killarney and Listowel is key to enabling people to choose walking or cycling for day-to-day activities like shopping, going to school or commuting to work.
The announcement by the National Transport Authority (NTA) is the first ever major active travel investment programme specifically targeted at rural Ireland. In total, the fund is over €72 million across the country which is far in excess of the original €50 million announced earlier this year.
The NTA stated that the volume of project proposals made by local authorities meant that the scheme had to be expanded.
Following on from the ambitious plans for the Killarney town cycle lanes, we want to see this money spent immediately and on high quality, well designed changes to our roads and streets.
Funding for cycling infrastructure is clearly no longer an obstacle and we need to ensure that the network plans, in particular, are drawn up quickly and by consultancies who have a track record in delivering the type transformative projects our towns sorely need.
The Kerry Cycling Campaign was a core contributor to the Cyclist.ie, Irish Cycling Advocacy Network’s Vision for Cycling in Rural Ireland. The vision document contains eight statements on what is needed, in a rural context, to deliver safe cycling.
Three main vision statements must be specifically addressed through this programme of funding:
* Create an environment in our cities, towns, villages and rural roads where cyclists are expected and respected.
* Create and map a network of useful, connected cycle routes throughout local authority areas
* Implement best practice design to ensure routes are safe and comfortable for cyclists of all ages and abilities
While we warmly welcome the number of projects being funded, we need to see wider distribution of projects across the county. A cycle network plan is needed for Kenmare, Killorglin, Milltown, Dingle and every other town and village in the county.
Every council municipal district should have a well -developed list of projects which they want to see funded. The money is being provided and we must see ambition from all corners of our county.
The Kerry Cycling Campaign continues to be available to consult on all aspects of the programme with Kerry County Council, the NTA, TII or private firms.