Limerick councillors urged to be brave on Active Travel scheme

Computer generated image of section of the proposed South Circular Road to City Centre cycle lane.

LOCAL councillors have been urged to be brave and show their support for the delivery of the South Circular Road Active Travel Scheme without interruptions to the proposed cycle track.

Limerick Cycling Campaign chairman Conor Buckley, believes that to remove the cycle track from any section of the scheme in favour of a small number of private on-street parking spaces, goes against Limerick’s transport strategy.

“It goes against national climate action policy and it goes against the students, workers, and families that will benefit from this active travel corridor. This route will connect the communities and workplaces of Raheen, Dooradoyle, and Mungret to the city centre,” Mr Buckley said.

Appealing to Limerick politicians at a local and national level, Mr Buckley said: “We understand that elected representatives will come under intense pressure from more conservative voters who do not want change. We need political leadership, we need to see the next generation of political leaders step forward and support the delivery of Limerick’s sustainable transport system.”

“Significant concessions have already been made to provide additional parking for older residents, including the development of a new car park as part of the scheme. We know that many residents are willing to sacrifice on-street supplementary parking for the greater good of their community.”

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He said that if the scheme is watered down any further, it will not meet the objectives for funding and there is a risk losing the opportunity to retrofit the city and build sustainable capacity in the transport network.

Mr Buckley called out one Limerick politician in particular in his comments.

“Unfortunately we have seen one of our Government TDs, Willie O’Dea, actively encourage councillors to vote against the project and his own government’s policy.

“We know there are votes in blocking climate action and community projects, but it’s incredibly disappointing to see a Limerick TD actively block high-value funded projects in his own constituency in favour of on-street parking for the few.

“We have the funding, and we have the strategy, now, we need the commitment.”

Fianna Fáil TD Willie O’Dea hit back that 90 per cent of the people who are going to be directly affected by the cycle lane on the South Circular Road are completely against this proposal.

“Is Mr Buckley from the area?” he asked.

“I believe that far greater courage will be shown by councillors in standing up to officials and backing the people directly affected.

“Is there any point in having consultation with local residents if the same residents say no to the proposal and the council go ahead with their plans anyway?

“There is a reasonable compromise proposed by the residents and I am urging all councillors to support this compromise solution rather than forcing a one-size-fits-all approach,” he said.

In response to Mr Buckley’s call to councillors, Fine Gael’s Daniel Butler told the Limerick Post that he believes the project delivers a lot of positives for the South Circular Road.

“There are some concerns along the route that need to be considered to find a way forward. Political leadership is about listening to the people who elect us no matter what their views are and finding a way forward,” Cllr Butler explained.

“Those I have met who have concerns have not asked us to vote against the project. They have taken time and effort to offer compromises. Some of these are being considered and may or may not be deliverable.

“We have identified additional challenges beyond those identified early in the process, proposals for side streets and for wheelchair users are just two examples. These need to be considered along with the safety and needs of cyclists and pedestrians,” he added.