The Department of Transport spent 1% of its land transport budget on cycling infrastructure last year, according to an estimate from cycling advocates who want a tenfold increase in this month’s Budget.
Cyclist.ie, the Irish Cycling Advocacy Network, says a 10% allocation of the land transport budget for cycling last year would have seen €122m spent on bicycle infrastructure in 2018.
However, in a pre-budget submission seen by the Irish Examiner, the lobby group estimates the amount spent on cycling alone amounted to €12.64m in 2018.
Those estimates are based on Cyclist.ie’s analysis of documentation from last year’s budget, the Government’s online database for financial information, and responses to parliamentary questions submitted in the Oireachtas.
The group analysed department spending and in particular examined the tiered coding used to categorise the projects funded from the department’s land transport capital expenditure of €1.24bn. In cases where codes indicated funding for mixed modes of transport, Cyclist.ie applied assumed weighting to calculate the spend dedicated solely to cycling.
For example, as greenways are built for cyclists as well as walkers, the group calculated its estimates on the assumption that half of such expenditure is dedicated to cycling.
It directly called on Transport Minister Shane Ross to significantly increase its department’s dedicated cycling capital expenditure.
“The Minister must address his continuing failure to properly provide for cycling and allocate 10% of the Land Transport (and greenway) capital budget to cycling in order to reduce congestion, improve public health, reduce air and noise pollution and limit the effects of climate change,” the group said in its submission.
Cyclist.ie also called on other ministers to exert their influence to seek greater funding for cycling.
“If the Minister for Transport fails to deliver again, the failure will reflect on other ministers who would benefit from increased levels of cycling,” it said.
“Health Minister Simon Harris is surely aware of the numerous studies documenting the benefits of cycling for physical and mental health. Climate Action and Environment Minister Richard Bruton understands that cycling can contribute to reducing emissions.
“We expect that Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe realises that cycling offers the highest return on investment of any transport expenditure. As a former minister for both Health and Transport as well as a qualified doctor, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is in a unique position to appreciate the benefits of active mobility. They sit in cabinet with Minister Ross and so share collective responsibility,” it said.