Cycling lobbyists has accused the Government of “spin” after Transport Minister Shane Ross said critics of cycling provisions in Budget 2020 are “not at the races”.
Mr Ross recently hit back at claims the Government had allocated just €9m for cycling in the Budget.
In his recent Budget speech, Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe said the Department of Transport, Tourism, and Sport (DTTAS) would receive a portion of the carbon tax revenues generated in 2020.
“From this, I am providing €9m for sustainable mobility projects around the country including for greenways and new urban cycling projects,” he said.
This prompted criticisms from opposition parties and Cyclist.ie, the Irish Cycling Advocacy Network, who called for greater clarity as to the full extent of funding for cycling.
The Government subsequently clarified that the €9m figure was not the entire allocation for cycling, merely what portion of the overall funding would come from carbon taxes.
“Cycling from #Budget2020 receives €114m which includes €9m from carbon tax measures. Anyone claiming #cycling fund next year just €9m not at the races,” Mr Ross tweeted.
A figure of €114m “for active travel / greenways” was subsequently backed by a DTTAS spokesperson.
“This compares to this year’s initial allocation of approximately €61m. This significant increase in funding will support the development of safe and segregated infrastructure for those who enjoy cycling and walking as a leisure activity and those who use either as part of their daily commute,” the spokesperson said.
DTTAS said €91m would support “enhanced walking and cycling facilities across all major urban centres, including implementation of a new city bike scheme in Waterford and expanding the Cork city bike scheme”, while €23m has been allocated to develop cycling Greenways across the country.
Its spokesperson said these allocations do not include the additional funding active travel and leisure-orientated walking and cycling receives through programmes such as Busconnects, the Urban Regeneration and Development Fund, the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund, the Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme and the Bike-to-Work Scheme.
However Cyclist.ie has questioned these figures, and have argued that the allocation purely for cycling still remains well below the 10% of the Land Transport capital budget it had sought.
“After almost ignoring cycling in the Dáil statement by the Minister for Finance and subsequent press release by the Minister for Transport Tourism and Sport, the DTTAS is now trying to spin the allocation for cycling,” a Cyclist.ie spokesperson said.
“The proposed allocation will not be welcomed by the Dáil, by the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action, or by those who want a robust Climate Plan and who are currently demonstrating on the streets of our capital city.
“Cyclist.ie laid down a marker for a cycling allocation of 10% of the Land Transport capital budget or €194m. Existing cyclists and the many people who would like to cycle but are put off by a hostile road environment will not be satisfied with less,” the spokesperson said.
The lobby group argues that as Greenways are provided for both pedestrians and cyclists, an allocation of €23m, the cyclist proportion would be 50% or €11.5m.
“In 2018 the cycling proportion of NTA expenditure in the Greater Dublin Area and the Regional cities was approximately 33%. Out of an allocation of €91m, this amounts to some €30m, giving a total department expenditure on cycling of approximately €42m and not €114m as claimed by the DTTAS,” the spokesperson said.
“The expenditure of €42m on cycling compares to €1120m on roads and is 2.2% of the total Land Transport capital budget. Cyclist.ie notes that the DTTAS also refers to minor spending by other departments on transport (cycling) projects but omits to refer to expenditure of over €200m by other departments on roads,” they said.