#Allocate4Cycling Working Group

Following the launch of its Budget Submission 2019 in September 2018 and the Lobby Day in Buswells Hotel, Cyclist.ie set up a working group to progress the #Allocate4Cycling Campaign which involved individuals from a number of campaign groups including Maynooth Cycling Campaign.

There were five objectives to our work:

  • Create a logo for #Allocate4Cycling
  • Clarify government expenditure on cycling
  • Make a submission to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Transport with an objective of being invited to present before them
  • Engage with political parties, and
  • Publicise our efforts through the issue of press releases.

We designed a logo for #Allocate4Cycling to try and create a recognisable brand. #A4C LogoOriginally it was similar to a speed limit sign – with black text, white background  and surrounded with a red circle. After mature reflection, however, it was thought  that such signs indicate prohibition rather than approval so the colour was changed to white text, blue background and white circle. The intention was that the  logo would appear on websites and correspondence with external parties but the outcome has been patchy at best.

Estimation of government expenditure  was linked to engagement with political parties. We contacted all the parties which had indicated their support for #Allocate4Cycling as well as some independents and asked them to put down parliamentary questions on finance to the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport. Some of the department responses were so obtuse that they shone no light on the issue at all but gradually the picture began to get clearer although we still require one final answer to fully resolve the question or as least as much as is possible.

We wanted to raise an issue with the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Transport (JOCT) which might get have the same impact as Joint Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action (JOCCA). We contacted Catherine Murphy TD who is an Oireachtas committee member for advice on how to raise such an issue. We had already made a submission on Budget 2019 and decided to submit a related one to the secretary of the JOCT. This may seem strange as the JOCCA has already endorsed the recommendation that 10% of transport capital funding should be allocated to cycling. However, it was felt important that the issue should be kept in the news to ensure that the recommendation is carried through to the All of Government Plan for Climate Action. This is especially important as the main government party representatives, Fine Gael, voted against the 10% allocation but were outvoted on a motion submitted by Eamon Ryan and supported by the members from other parties and independents.

One of the greatest difficulties for Cyclist.ie is having an impact in the media. Cyclist.ie is made up of a number of geographically spread  groups which are trying to make an impact in their own locality  as well as nationally. We have learnt lessons from our support for Stop Climate Change and the campaign for Active Travel. However, it would be fair to state that we have still to make an impact on this area  but hope to do better in the future. All in all though, we feel that progress is being made but that the next twelve months will be critical due to elections  (local, European and probably national),  the All of Government Report on Climate Action and Budget 2020.


CYCLIST.IE PRESS RELEASE – Report by Joint Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action

Cyclist.ie, the Irish Cycling Advocacy Network, warmly welcomes the Report on Addressing Climate Change in Ireland by the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action. As acknowledged by the government, Ireland is behind other European countries in attaining its binding, EU agreed, 2020 and 2030 targets with regards to energy efficiency and reduction of GHG emissions.

Colm Ryder, Chair of Cyclist.ie, said “This report is an important step on the path to decarbonising transport in Ireland. In particular, the cross-party recommendation for an allocation to cycling of 10% of transport investment is a momentous decision and when properly expended will ensure that the government delivers far ranging change not only in  carbon emissions but also in personal travel, health, congestion and air/noise pollution”.

The Committee is to be highly commended for its prioritising of active travel by placing it front and centre in the transport section of the report. Transport policies often pay lip-service to active travel but rarely give it the serious consideration it deserves. We acknowledge the proposed government investment in active travel in cities and welcome its extension to larger towns across the country. We regret that the Committee did not adopt the Citizens Assembly recommendation of reversing the proportion of funding towards roads relative to public transport. Simple rules will be required to proportion the allocation of investment to different modes of transport for, unless there is transparency and clarity about the funding, there is a risk of investment being misdirected.

The Committee acknowledges the impact of car travel on congestion and that the ‘do nothing” scenario will only lead to increasing gridlock in our towns and cities. While it is accepted that the  Committee has not considered school travel in depth, it is regrettable that efforts to deter school trips by car such as the closing of streets near schools to private car traffic have not been referenced.

We share the Committee’s concern about the length of time it takes to deliver major projects and welcome its support for multi-modal travel. We applaud its recommendation for restrictions on access of private cars to large urban centres but we are concerned about local authorities preference for ‘balance between road users’ which is often a  synonym for maintaining the status quo.

While electric vehicles have a role in decarbonising the transport sector, we regret that there is no mention of the huge potential of E-bikes. In countries where the level of cycling is high, the sale of such bikes far outweighs the number of electric cars and at far less cost to the individual and to government. It is hoped that in the future the Committee will also have the opportunity to consider the increasing use of cargo bikes for last mile deliveries across Europe, so we can replicate it here in Ireland.

We are happy to see the reference to trials of free public transport in a number of European cities, although it is disappointing that the report does not refer to the removal of hidden subsidies to car travel such as free parking at places of work, at shopping centres and in public areas.  These areas need to be addressed.

In summary, the report is an important step on the path to a carbon free future and Cyclist.ie warmly welcomes its publication.  Its ultimate success however will depend on how it informs the adoption of appropriate targets and on the monitoring and reporting of progress in Minister Richard Bruton’s  eagerly awaited All-of-Government Plan on Climate.

Government (excluding DTTaS) allocates €3.5 Million for Everyday Cycling

 In response to parliamentary questions, Minister Shane Ross is very keen to point out that in addition to funding from the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (DTTaS), the government also funds cycling through other departments including the Department of Community and Rural Regeneration and the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government. We decided to investigate the contribution to cycling by these departments.

Michael Ring is Minister for the Department of Community and Rural Affairs. In May 2018, he announced the allocation of €4.5 million. This was followed in September by an additional allocation of €8 million. These rounds of funding were under the Community Enhancement Programme (CEP) which supports disadvantaged communities throughout the country by providing capital grants to community groups so none of this funding was for cycling or cycle related projects.

In January 2019, the Minister and Fáilte Ireland jointly announced funding of €10.8 million for 78 outdoor recreation infrastructure projects. Of the 78, 19 were identified as wholly or partially cycle related at an estimated cost of €1,680,786.

In February 2019, the Minister made a major announcement with an allocation of €62 million for Rural Regeneration and Development projects across the country at a cost per project ranging from €20,000 for to €10.2 Million. These included three cycle related projects. The first was the development of a cycle network in Mayo/Galway at a cost of €75,000. The second  was for a navigation/greenway project in County Meath at a cost of €845,250. While the cycling component of this scheme is open to debate, it is assumed for the purposes of this article that 25% or €211,312 is for cycling. The third was a flagship project of national importance – the development of mountain biking trails at a cost of €10.2 million. Mountain biking is a sport which is growing in popularity but it is a niche activity. Even among current cyclists it is very much a minority sport and has little, if anything, to do with utility or everyday cycling. Although funding was provided by the Department of Community, it could equally have been provided by that section of government dealing with sport or tourism or even transport. Omitting the mountain biking scheme, the total component allocated for everyday cycling from the other two amounts to €286,312 so in total, Minister Ring allocated approximately €2 million to cycling out of €86 million.

In November 2018, as part of Project Ireland 2040, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Eoghan Murphy, Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, announced an allocation of €100 million for 88 projects under the Urban Regeneration and Development Fund (URDF). The schemes were classified under various headings including community development, culture, specific capital projects, energy development, integrated urban development, library development, public realm regeneration, road/strategic infrastructure and strategic acquisitions.

There may be a number of projects which involved a small component of cycling eg projects involving public realm improvements but in isolation these are unlikely to make any significant impact to the level of cycling either locally or nationally. Cycling is only explicitly mentioned in the five:

Scheme County


Cherrywood Public Parks, Greenways & Attenuation Dublin


Sustainable Swords (Category B) Dublin

(estimated)  €257,500

Cycling & Walking Galway


Smarter Travel Killarney
(Link & Public Realm)


Castlebar Greenway Link Mayo




The total value of the five is estimated at €5.7 million but the cycling component is likely to be  of the order of €1-2 million at most out of an allocation of €100 million.

We warmly welcome this additional contribution of approximately €3.5 million to everyday cycling by Ministers Ring and Murphy. However, this is a long way from Cyclist.ie’s campaign for 10% of the DTTaS Land Transport capital budget or €149 Million based on the 2019 Department of Finance allocation. As everyday cycling is essentially about transport, the heavy lifting for funding cycling rightly belongs in the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport. If that department fails to provide adequate funding, the primary responsibility rests with Shane Ross, the Minister in Charge.

2019 Cycling Allocation – 1.26% Transport Capital Budget?

Investment in cycling is difficult to estimate. Central government provides funding, local government provides funding, other government bodies provide funding and some infrastructure and/or finance is provided by developers as part of planning conditions.

Irish cycling advocates have long been interested in the level of investment by central government but even there the exact level is difficult to uncover. Efforts by different politicians and parties to find out through parliamentary questions  were unsuccessful with replies carefully crafted to avoid answering the questions. The Minister has made periodic statements about funding both inside and outside the Dáil  but cycling is lumped in with walking or the Minister talks in terms of sustainable travel which also includes investment in buses and trains. If you were to ask most Irish politicians “How much does the government spend on cycling?” – they would have no idea. In countries with high levels of cycling, politicians do know – perhaps not expenditure in a specific year but they have a headline figure which the government aims for.

In Ireland, expenditure in the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport is subdivided into five programmes – (1) Land Transport, (2) Civil Aviation, (3) Maritime Transport and Safety, (4) Sports and Recreational Services and (5) Tourism Services. Of these, Land Transport is the most important area receiving over 90% of the total budget.

The table below gives a breakdown of Land Transport expenditure for 2018. The figures are taken from the Revised Estimates Volume for Public Services 2018 which was published in December 2017. In the future, these will be reclassified as provisional figures before the actual expenditure outturns are finalised, as shown in the annual Appropriation Accounts. The government provides a similar level of detail on expenditure for all departments but does not give a breakdown of expenditure at  lower levels.

2018 Current Non Pay Current Pay Pension Capital Grand Total
 B.1 – Administration – Pay 12,460 12,460
 B.2 – Administration – Non Pay 2,237 295 2,532
 B.3 – Road Improvement/maintenance 72,207 19,160 2,130 815,356 908,853
 B.4 – Road Safety Agencies & Expenses 1,853 2,774 139 350 5,116
 B.5 – Vehicle And Driver Licencing Expenses 15,900 3,500 19,400
 B.6 – Carbon Reduction 5,500 5,500
 B.7 – Public Service Provision Payments 281,713 18,650 300,363
 B.8 – Public & Sustainable Transport Investment Programme 1,605 398,940 400,545
 B.9 – Public Transport Agencies & Expenses 2,819 2,830 11 5,660
 B.10 – Miscellaneous Services 78 78
Total €378,412 €37,224 €2,280 €1,242,591 €1,660,507

TABLE 1       Land Transport Expenditure 2018  (€ 000)
                     (Source: Databank Department of Public Expenditure & Reform)

Most areas in Land Transport receive negligible capital investment. The two which stand out are Road Improvement/Maintenance at €815M (or 65% of the total) and Public & Sustainable Transport Investment Programme at €398 (or 32.1% of the total).  This clearly demonstrates the disparity between the capital allocation for roads as opposed to all other modes of transport including cycling.

Public Transport & Sustainable Transport is the main source of funding for cycling. However, funding for cycling  is also provided under other programmes. For example, in 2018 greenways were funded under the Tourism programme while investment in a velodrome appeared under Sport. This article  concentrates on the departmental funding of cycling from Public Transport & Sustainable Transport but also includes Greenways.

We have identified eight areas of expenditure which involve provision for cycling but the same funding may also be used to provide for other modes of transport. In order to estimate the contribution to cycling alone, it is necessary to separate/estimate what proportion of funding goes to cycling and what goes elsewhere.

  1. Bus Connect

Expenditure on Bus Connect is estimated at €79M in 2018. The primary reason for this expenditure is the need to reorganise the bus service. It is considered reasonable that a proportion should be allocated to cycling as the project includes the provision of segregated cycle facilities on part of the Bus Connect network. It was decided to proportion 10% for cycling as that is the government target for cycling. There are grounds for arguing that 10% is too high and other arguments that 10% is too low but as Bus Connect is a new project, it was decided that 10% was reasonable until its outcome in relation to the provision of cycling infrastructure is clear.

  1.  Cycling/Walking

Cycling/Walking has been allocated €8M in 2018 rising to €15 in 2019. In the absence of any further information from the Department, it was considered reasonable to divide the allocation 50:50 betweeen the two modes.

  1.  Sustainable Transport  Mobility Grants (STMG)

STMG has been allocated €14M in 2018. It may be thought that a large percentage goes to cycling but STMG also includes public transport and walking projects. The proportion of 25% was estimated on the basis of the NTA Outturn Reports.

  1.  Smarter Travel Workplaces

The allocation for Smarter Travel Workplace is estimated at €0.60M per annum. Again, it is an area which includes other modes of transport with cycling only accounting for 33% of expenditure.

  1.  Green Schools

The allocation for Green Schools is also modest at €1.65M but once more the proportion which is spent on cycling is low. The proportion of 33% was estimated from Annual Reports from Green Schools.

  1.  Greenways

Greenways are funded under the Tourism heading and are primarily for recreational reasons as public lighting is not generally provided and Waterways Ireland insist on a low quality dust surface which deters many utility and sport cyclists. Greenways, if constructed to a high standard, have the potential to cater for utility cyclists. Therefore, it was thought fair to include their expenditure in order to estimate overall departmental spending on cycling.

  1.  Cycle Right

All funding for Cycle Right goes to cycling.

  1.  Bikeweek

All funding for Bikeweek goes to cycling.

A breakdown of Department funding for cycling for the years 2018-2021 is given in the Table 2. Some of the funding is current rather than capital spending but has been included to get an overall figure for Department spend.

 Area of Expenditure 2018  2019  2020  2021 TOTAL 
Bus Connect
Bus Connect €79.00 €143.00 €246.00 €282.00 €750.00
Cycling Contribution (10%) €7.90 €14.30 €24.60 €28.20 €75.00
Cycling/Walking €8.00 €15.00 €35.00 €52.00 €110.00
Cycling Contribution (50%) €4.00 €7.50 €17.50 €26.00 €55.00
STMG €14.00 €17.00 €47.00 €57.00 €135.00
STMG Cycling Contribution (25%) €3.50 €4.25 €11.75 €14.00 €33.75
Smarter Travel Workplaces
Smarter Travel Workplaces €0.60 €0.60 €0.60 €0.60 €2.40
STW Cycling Contribution (33%) €0.20 €0.20 €0.20 €0.20 €0.79
Green Schools
Green Schools €1.65 €1.65 €1.65 €1.65 €6.60
Green Schools Cycling Contribution (20%) €0.33 €0.33 €0.33 €0.33 €1.32
Cycle Right
Cycle Right (100%) €0.65 €0.65 €0.65 €0.65 €2.60
Greenways – Tourism
Greenways €0.00 €13.45 €15.2 €24.35 €53.00
Greenways Cycling Contribution (50%) €0.00 €6.73 €7.60 €12.18 €26.5
Bikeweek (100%) €0.40 €0.40 €0.40 €0.40 €1.60
DTTAS Expenditure on Cycling €16.98 €34.36 €63.03 €81.96 €196.31

TABLE 2       Departmental Allocation & Contribution to Cycling 2018-2021 (€ M)

In 2018, total expenditure is estimated at €16.98M rising to €34.36M in 2019. The #Allocate4Cycling campaign seeks 10% of the Land Transport Capital budget to be devoted to cycling. As the Land Transport capital budget is estimated at €1243M and €1544M in 2018 and 2019 respectively, this level of expenditure on cycling equates to 1.37% and 2.22% for those years – a long way from what is required to significantly impact on health, congestion, sustainability and climate change.

Of the eight areas of expenditure, the total allocation for four (Smarter Travel Workplaces, Green Schools, Cycle Right and Bikeweek) is negligible at €1.6M per annum. The allocations for Greenways and Cycling/Walking are significant  but most of the funding is in the latter years of the investment programme which shows a lack of priority by the Minister. While he did announce greenway funding of €53M in 2018, no significant if any funding will be spent this year as councils have until November to make an application for schemes. Furthermore, it is assumed that 50% of the Cycling/Walking allocation is for cycling.  In theory it could be anything between 0.1% and 99.9% and still accord with statements by the Minister.

  2018 2019 2020
DTTAS Expenditure on Cycling €9.08 €19.45 €39.40
DTTaS Total Capital Voted Expenditure €1,243.00 €1,544.42 €1,934.52
% Cycling 0.73% 1.26% 2.04%

TABLE 3       % of Departmental Expenditure on Cycling 2018-2020
                      Excluding Bus Connect (€ M)

By far,  the largest area of expenditure  is  the  Bus Connect  project with  contributions to cycling of €7.9M  and  €14.3M in  2018   and  2019.  It  hardly  needs  to be pointed out  that  Bus Connect is  running into problems politically with very vocal opposition to the proposed reorganisation  of bus  routes. If  there  are delay to  routes,  no preliminary  or  detailed designs  can proceed  so it is more than  likely  that any expenditure  on cycling  routes adjacent  to key bus routes  will not  happen  until  the end of  2019  or later.  If  so,  the proportion of  Land Transport capital expenditure allocated to cycling in 2018 and 2019 could fall as low as 0.73% and 1.30% respectively (see Table 3) and  this for a mode of transport which is used for more than 40% of journeys in many Dutch and Danish cities. The Minister has been quoted as saying that his Department “gets” cycling. Unless there is openness on his intended levels of investment,  its impact on levels of cycling  AND a commitment to substantial funding, cycle advocates will continue to disagree.

PS      For  comparison,  Finland,  which  is  similar  in  population  to  Ireland,  has  just announced funding of  €23M for a single cycle project,  albeit the most expensive in its history.


10% of Land Transport Budget – #Allocate4Cycling

budget submission_Twitter Photo

Cyclist.ie members, including Maynooth Cycling Campaign, have put together a strong budget submission addressed to Minister for Finance & Public Expenditure Paschal Donohue, outlining the deficiency in government funding supports to enable cycling to grow. Essentially we are calling for an immediate 10% of Land Transport Funding to be allocated to Cycling, to enable the government to meet its own target of 10% of modal share by cycling by 2020. Currently the modal share stands at only approximately 3% of trips by bike, and funding levels are at approximately 2% of Land Transport Funding!

The Cyclist.ie submission points out that the appropriate funding for cycling aligns with numerous government policies and initiatives across a variety of sectors such as Transport, Environment, Climate Change, Health, Business, and Education. Cycling, as a mode of transport, offers numerous well documented benefits to society, including:

  • Improved public health
  • Reduced congestion
  • Reduced greenhouse gas emissions
  • Reduced air and noise pollution
  • More liveable and sociable streets and communities, and
  • High rates of economic return

Unlocking these benefits requires targeted and sustained investment, and international evidence demonstrates that investing in cycling provides excellent value for money.

From available data we estimate that spending on cycling currently only amounts to approximately 2% of Transport capital spending. This compares to recommended targets of 10% for cycling, and present European levels of between 5% and 8%. This very low proportion is not commensurate with the benefits offered by cycling, or with the significant economic costs which car dependence imposes on Irish society. To encourage people to make more journeys by bicycle;

We call for 10% of the capital budget for land transport to be invested in cycling.

At the same time, an increase in current spending on a range of different objectives which can support a transition to a cycling friendly society is also required.

The full budget submission is available here and a short summary document here. We need YOU to contact your local representatives and make the case to increase funding for cycling. See https://www.whoismytd.com/ for the names and contact details of your local TDs.


How much does Ireland spend on cycling?

Local and central governments are fond of ‘promoting cycling’. They have been promoting it for some twenty years with grants here and there, photo opportunities at the opening of cycle facilities, giving out hi vizjackets, exhortations to get on your bike, advertisements in the media and so on. In most of this time, cycling nationally has declined. Brendan Behan once suggested that in order to revive the Irish language, books which were banned for their sexual content in English should be printed in Irish. Perhaps local and central government should trying promoting car use – the outcome could hardly be worse!

There is a lack of knowledge of how much Ireland actually allocates to cycling.  It is difficult to be precise as cycling infrastructure can be provided  by funding from central or local government but can also be provided by private developers in the same way as other infrastructure such as road or sewers. Furthermore, some types of cycling infrastructure such as shared footpaths or greenways are provided to be shared with pedestrians so how do you determine the separate contribution for cyclists from pedestrians?

In most countries the critical figure is the amount of funding provided by central government. In 2014 in response to a question in the Dáil from Deputy Catherine Murphy, the Minister for Transport reported that a total of  €11.1 Million was allocated by his Department and gave a breakdown of the allocation to individual local authorities. However, this was only the direct budget allocation from the Department.  The National Transport Authority also provided funding of €8.2 Million to local authorities In the Greater Dublin Region and in May the government announced a Stimulus Programme which included funding of €10 million for greenway developments. Finally, in November, a supplementary budget was passed which included funding of €1.6 million also for greenways. Overall it is estimated that funding of €21.2 million was directly and indirectly provided for cycling by central government. With a population of 4.66 million, this equates to an expenditure of €4.55 per person for 2014.

How do we compare internationally? Well pretty badly. The Netherlands spends approximately €30 per person per annum. In the UK, politicians at Westminster estimate that expenditure of £10 per head per annum is required. Norway, with a similar population as Ireland has just announced an investment of almost €1 Billion in cycling infrastructure although it helps if you have extensive oil resources.  What is clear that unless spending is increased substantailly, the level of cycling in Ireland (outside of the capital) will remain under  3%.