The Green Party has welcomed the publication by the National Transport Authority of the Core Bus Corridors Project Report for the BusConnects initiative, but has warned that improvements for pedestrians and cyclists must be integral to the process.
Councillor Ciaran Cuffe, Green Party's Transport Spokesperson said: “For far too long pedestrians and cyclists have been the poor relation in transport planning. Walking and Cycling must be seen as an integral part of the BusConnects Project. We saw with the Luas Cross City project how cyclists were diverted and sidelined from main routes and this is in danger of happening again. A visible and well-resourced walking and cycling unit must be at the heart of the BusConnects project.
“The proposed work on upgrading bus routes will involve the purchase of lands for carriageway widening. It is crucial that both transport users and land-owners are given an opportunity to have their views inform the planning process. In some instances improvements in bus services can be achieved by diverting or restricting cars at peak times, rather than by road widening. Road widening can be devastating for householders and businesses, and will have to be carefully assessed to determine if it is the right solution from a social or economic point of view.
“It is also crucial that congestion on the M50 is tackled and that a reliable bus alternative is provided. This requires high quality orbital bus routes sooner rather than later in the process. Although they are identified in the Core Bus Corridors Project Report there appears to be no clear timetable for their construction. There is also a strong case for orbital bus routes on the M50 itself.
Green Party leader Eamon Ryan TD said: “These proposals contain positive opportunities, for cleaner air, safer streets, calmer and more affordable journeys. Shifting trips to walking cycling and buses from cars is a positive for all. The challenge is to reverse decades of the wrong strategy and produce redesigns to prioritise walking cycling and public transport. We should not underestimate that challenge, but we know that delivering a cleaner healthier, happier city is worth it.
"These routes, ending at the edges of the city centre, highlight the need to move ahead with the Liffey Cycle Route and other city centre road space reallocation projects to prioritise walking, cycling and public transport. The city centre challenge is much wider than just College Green.”
Councillor David Healy said: “When the Quality Bus Corridors were introduced ten years ago we warned that they failed to provide safe segregated space for cyclists and would put buses and cycling in conflict. These warnings were disregarded. We need to ensure that these designs get it right for walking and cycling; that means specific goals and responsibilities in the design process, not treating walking and cycling as afterthoughts.
“The proposals to divert cyclists from urban and shopping areas such as Rathmines, Santry and Shankill completely fail to meet the stated goal of promoting and protecting cycling. We must learn from Dutch cities which give priority access throughout their cities and suburbs by foot and bicycle and ensure that public transport works effectively around environments oriented towards active travel.”