TD calls for Covid-19 measures for regional cities to prioritise Waterford
Green Party TD for Waterford, Marc Ó Cathasaigh, has welcomed today’s statement by Minister for Transport Shane Ross that, following the rollout of temporary cycle lanes and widened footpaths in Dublin to allow for safe social distancing, Waterford is to benefit from similar measures.
Responding to a question in the Dáil regarding the rapid roll out of cycle and pedestrian infrastructure upgrades in Dublin, Minister Ross gave a commitment to map those successes to other cities, including Waterford:
"My Department is funding the NTA to work with local authorities in developing Covid-19 mobility frameworks that will set out specific plans to deliver things like widening footpaths, temporary protected cycle facilities, including new contraflow routes, revised bus routing and bus priority measures and enhanced pedestrian priority zones.
"The first of these frameworks is being developed with Dublin City Council. It is intended that similar plans will be implemented in Cork, Limerick, Galway and Waterford and works identified will be funded through my Department's sustainable mobility investment programme."
Deputy Ó Cathasaigh, who has a background in cycle campaigning, has already been in correspondence with Waterford City Council to ask that road space be reallocated to encourage people to walk or cycle as the economy begins to re-open.
"A number of our Green Party representatives here in Waterford wrote asking Council CEO, Michael Walsh, to follow the example being set in Dublin. As people begin to get back to work, we’ll see levels of traffic congestion in the city build again. Many commuters who normally use the bus may not feel comfortable doing so, so building capacity for them to walk or cycle will give them another option. It won’t suit everyone as an option, but even a small shift in modal share would have a big impact on congestion and ultimately benefit drivers as well as other road users.
"Our focus now should be on two things - to ensure that the minister follows through on his promise, and to make sure that Waterford is ready to access this funding once it’s made available. Providing safe access along the Dunmore Rd. corridor jumps out as an example of where improvements could be rolled out quickly, as does the prospect of improving the connection between the city and WIT.
"Over the next few months we need to get people back to work safely and we will need to support our businesses by enabling the safe movement of people. With the capacity of some city buses reduced to under twenty people, we need to put alternative measures in place. Temporary protected cycle lanes and wider footpaths will help the city to open again safely. I urge Waterford City and County Council to start preparing for these works immediately to make sure we can keep our city safe."