Since 2013 my Department, through the National Transport Authority (NTA), has funded the development of cycle network plans in each of the five major cities, with the most recently published plans being those in Limerick and Cork in 2017. These cycle network plans are developed in accordance with the National Cycle Manual, developed and published by the NTA in 2011, and the Design Manual for Urban Roads and Streets, which was jointly published by my Department and the then Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government in 2013.
It is the case however that funding for the implementation of these cycle network plans was constrained until the funding allocations provided by Project Ireland 2040 and therefore delivery of the plans has been slower than many would have hoped at the time of their publication.
Importantly we now have both the strategic backdrop provided by these cycle network plans, which are being integrated into the relevant metropolitan area transport strategies as they are being developed in each city, and also a significantly increased funding programme available to support delivery of schemes in each of the cities.
Next year significantly increased funding is being made available to support improved active travel infrastructure and those increases build on those secured in Budgets 2018 and 2019. Funding for the NTA’s two principal active travel related programmes will increase to approximately €100million, a slight increase on forecasts available immediately after the announcement of Budget 2020, and that funding will support project delivery in all major cities.
Allocations made available under these funding programmes do not capture all public expenditure dedicated to active travel which also benefits from other funding. This includes funding provided under BusConnects, the Roads Programmes, the Urban Regeneration and Development Fund, the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund, and the tax incentive available under the Cycle-to-Work Scheme.
I believe the approach I have described above, supporting local authorities in the development of high-quality cycle network plans in their cities and making funding available to now support their delivery, is an approach that can yield positive results and I look forward to the delivery of a number of important projects across the country next year and beyond.