By Damien O’Tuama
Cyclist.ie warmly welcomes the announcement today from the Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan T.D. and Minister of State Hildegarde Naughton T.D. that up to 248 new jobs in local authorities will be created to expand walking and cycling facilities all over the country.
Speaking about the plan to employ up to 218 additional staff across the local authorities, with an additional 30 proposed for Regional Cycling Design Offices, Minister Eamon Ryan said:
“Developing high quality walking and cycling facilities will encourage more people to switch to active travel and will contribute to tackling climate change. Really good design is what is needed to connect communities and make walking and cycling attractive, safe and accessible to everyone. We’re providing €360 million in funding in the 2021 budget for active travel, and this week I announced that we will fund dedicated teams in all local authorities to deliver on the commitments in the Programme for Government. This project will more than quadruple the number of staff working on active travel projects on local authorities. This is a game-changer in terms of delivering high-quality infrastructure across the country in both rural and urban areas.”
Minister of State Naughton stated: “Today’s announcement, underpinned by our commitment to spend almost €1 million per day on walking and cycling, focuses on resourcing the shift towards more sustainable modes of transport. Local authorities are at the heart of what we want to achieve and we need to ensure they have the right level of resources available to deliver this in every city, town and village across the country. Vitally, we will use these dedicated resources to implement Government commitments such as the new Safe Routes to School programme. This Programme will ensure that children of all ages and backgrounds can travel to school safely, and in a healthy and active way.”
According to the announcement made earlier today (Friday 22 January 2021), the new staff will be dedicated to delivering and promoting active travel in Ireland and will work across design, communications / community liaison and construction oversight functions. The new staff will support the delivery of almost 1,000 kilometres of improved walking and cycling infrastructure by 2025.
Cyclist.ie warmly welcomes the announcement above having campaigned ahead of the General Election 2020 for increased investment in trained staff in sustainable travel – see here.
Chairperson of Cyclist.ie, Colm Ryder, responded to the announcement saying that this could be a game-changer in how we plan for high quality sustainable mobility in Ireland over the next decade.
“We need to shift our emphasis towards low carbon and healthy transport, and it is extremely important that Local Authorities are engaging with the latest ideas in mobility planning and behavioural change through new staff trained in design, communications, community liaison as well as enhanced construction oversight functions. Additionally, the new jobs in every Local Authority will bring greater parity to the development of active travel across the country – in other words, this marks a shift from a mainly city focused approach to one where we will start to see real changes in walking and cycling provision in every county in the country”.
Vice-Chairperson of Cyclist.ie, Neasa Bheilbigh, added:
“If we are to reduce the inequalities in mobility, and make it as normal for children to cycle to school in Ireland as it is in many European countries, then we urgently need this new cohort of staff in Local Authorities who will inject new thinking and ideas into Irish Councils. We must remember that everyone benefits when more people cycle. We look forward to hearing more details of the government plans following on from this announcement.”
Further details of the announcement can be read in the formal Department of Transport press release.