Councils urged to fast-track bike lanes to cut emissions

First annual report of Cork City Council’s climate action committee takes place, with frustration expressed over slow delivery of bike lanes
Councils urged to fast-track bike lanes to cut emissions

Councils can 'inexpensively' put in solutions for cyclists, such as bollards, the meeting was told. File Picture: Larry Cummins

Local authorities should be brave and fast-track the delivery of bike lanes as part of wider efforts to reduce emissions in cities, the head of the Oireachtas climate change committee has said.

Green Party TD Brian Leddin made his comments during the first annual report of Cork City Council’s climate action committee today — the first such committee established by a local authority in Ireland.

During a wide-ranging discussion, several committee members expressed frustration about the slow pace of delivery of bike lanes in Cork City, and concerns about the lack of enforcement to prevent parking in existing bike lanes.

Mr Leddin said while more education would help, he said local authorities shouldn’t have to follow a protracted Part 8 planning process to deliver cycling infrastructure, and they could reclaim road space for cyclists relatively quickly and easily through other means.

“It can be done inexpensively by putting up bollards," he said. 

Local authorities just have to put the hand out and they will get the money. 

"It may be politically difficult at local level but I would encourage them to be brave and just push it through. If we do it quickly and get it over the line, it will transform our cities’ transport network and lead to lower emissions,” he said.

Micheal Lyons, head of the council’s climate action unit, said while Covid-19 has focused minds on the value of our environment, he said what is needed now is “action, action, action” to protect the city from the ravages of climate change. 

His report outlined the progress of 66 separate planned actions, including:

  • The rollout of a wildflower meadow programme in parks and open spaces, to include a high percentage of pollinator-friendly plants;
  • The launch in April of a public lighting strategy;
  • The launch in May of an air quality and monitoring strategy;
  • The pedestrianisation of several city centre streets;
  • The appointment of consultants to undertake a review of the city’s ‘green and blue infrastructure’ to inform the review of the next city development plan.

School climate striker Theresa Rose Sebastian welcomed the progress on climate adaptation, but said more action on climate mitigation measures is required.

“Without more of these actions, it’s like putting a continuous band-aid on an open wound,” she said.

The city’s head of economic development, Fearghal Reidy, said climate change is a key consideration as part of the drafting of the new city development plan, and he said the council is anxious to include the views of young people in particular in that process.

Green Party councillor Oliver Moran, the committee chairman, welcomed the annual report and said the committee will continue to work to progress actions across all areas of the council’s operations.

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