Green Party Castleknock ward candidate, Roderic O’Gorman has called on Fingal County Council to follow the Governments lead and implement more measures to encourage and support cycling. He was speaking after a number of announcements in the budget which were of benefit to cyclists.
In what was a very tough budget, one of the few positive points was the two new initiatives that the Government has brought forward to support cyclists. Firstly, a tax exemption on bicycles and bike safety equipment of up to €1,000 per person, for those who use it to cycle to work. This is to encourage employers help their employees meet the cost of switching to the bike.
Secondly, an investment of €5 million in upgrading cycling routes in Dublin City. This will be focused on improving safety for cyclists.
I’ve spoken to many people in Dublin 15 who have switched to cycling to work for a variety of reasons – it’s healthier, with the rise in fuel prices it’s cheaper and due to the traffic congestion in the area, its now often faster than the car! However, almost everyone I have spoken to have told me of some story regarding narrowly missed accidents.
In particular, many local cyclists have highlighted to me how dangerous it is to try and cycle toward Chapelizod and from there into town, with Tower Road near Castleknock College and the Knockmaroon Hill being particular blackspots. Some cyclists said they simply have to cycle on the footpath due to safety concerns.
The Government have made moves to make cycling more attractive and safer. Now it is up to Fingal County Council to play its part. There needs to be an examination of the volume and direction of cycle paths in the area. A look at the Dublin Transport Offices map of cycle lanes in Dublin 15 clearly shows that there is a big gap for cyclists between the Blanchardstown area and the new cycle lane along the N3 by the Phoenix Park racecourse development. Further, there are virtually no cycle lanes in and around Castleknock village.
Over the next two years, the Council needs to interact with cyclists in the area and learn what their specific needs are. Possibly, some consideration could be given to speaking to Waterways Ireland and arranging for a high quality cycle path to be developed alongside the Royal Canal.
Also, the Council should go further in developing the cycling/walking to school element of the Green Schools Programme, which has received extra funding from the Department of Transport over the year. Many parents would love to let their kids walk or cycle to school, but they are simply too scared to let them out on the roads in Dublin 15 because there are not enough cycle paths and pedestrian facilities are so poor.
In the run up to the local elections next June, I intend to focus strongly on the lack of cycling and pedestrian facilities across Castleknock, Carpenterstown and Blanchardstown. If I am elected to the Council next year, ensuring that those who wish to walk or cycle, be they young or old, will be able to do so will be a top priority for me.