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The Social Democrats have called for the delivery of cycling infrastructure to form a major part of Kildare County Council’s County Development Plan 2023 to 2029.

In a lengthy submission to the recent consultative process, the party’s four elected Kildare councillors said that cycling infrastructure could drastically reduce traffic congestion and improve quality of life in the county’s towns and villages.

A section of their submission reads:

“Studies show that average urban streets can handle between 600 and 1,600 cars per hour, whereas a two-lane protected cycling lane can handle 7,500 bicycles per hour. This is particularly relevant at school opening and closing times when urban traffic – and invariably emissions – are at their worst.”

In the submission, the party also called for the adoption of the concept of the 15-minute town or village. This provides for access to all services and most common needs for residents of an urban area within 15 minutes by any form of transport – except by car.

“Not only does this mandate the provision of services and infrastructure, but it also mandates that a transport infrastructure is provided to enable anyone anywhere in the town to get to anywhere else in the town within that time space,” the submission reads. “In years to come, the advent of lockdown will probably come be seen as an inflection moment for the people of Kildare.

“Long seen as a dormitory/commuter belt county, the sudden switch for many to working from home has prompted a re-evaluation. We see our towns, villages and county anew, and we are more invested in it as our living space.

“However, with the need to live within commuting distance of a large urban centre receding, there is a danger that people will use their new-found freedom and live anywhere, placing an unsustainable burden on services. Therefore, our county development plan must be the driving force behind a dramatic shift in our towns and villages, from dormitory towns to attractive liveable spaces.”

The councillors’ submission came as Transport Infrastructure Ireland released the results of a survey which revealed that women in Ireland find cycling the least safe and one of the most unattractive forms of transport due to safety fears and poor cycling infrastructure. The report says that while women view cycling as good for health, this is negated by unsafe experiences and a perception that it is the least safe way to travel because of a lack of quality infrastructure.

The report also identified improvements that would make cycling more attractive to women, including improving cycling infrastructure to increase safety; establishing clear cycling etiquette and laws to increase safety and confidence for cyclists; promoting cycling lessons and information about safe equipment and practices for all to establish cycling habits; and improving driver awareness about cyclists.

Cllr Nuala Killeen commented:

“We certainly welcome the results of TII’s survey and look forward to working with Kildare County Council to take positive measures to address these concerns. It backs up a lot of what has already been long established elsewhere throughout the world where cycling infrastructure has successfully been introduced. Cycling infrastructure is a serious quality of life issue affecting our towns and villages – and it requires bold action.”

Cllr Bill Clear said:

“We need to build safe segregated cycle infrastructure that enables people, especially our children, to cycle to school safely – just like they used to do.”

You can read full submission to County Development Plan here

March 23, 2021

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