Thurles set to become one of Ireland’s Active Travel Towns with €510,000 investment.
Public Transport Minister Alan Kelly and Thurles-based Councillor John Kennedy have announced that Thurles is set to benefit from over a half million Euro investment and be designated one of Ireland’s Active Travel Towns. The initiative will see nine Irish towns granted funding for local cycling and walking strategies, including new cycle lanes, provision of walkways and behavioural change initiatives in local schools and workplaces to encourage people to switch their transport mode.
This funding for Thurles will see the creation of cycle routes through the town of Thurles from Brittas Road, Kickham Street, Parnell Street and Stradavoher Road to be linked with off-road footpaths cycle paths along the Suir paths at Thomond Road Suir Crossing, College Lane Suir Crossing and at Scoil Bhride Railway crossing. Thurles will receive over half a million Euro (€510,000) which will go as an allocation to North Tipperary County Council. The total national fund comes to €6.6 million. The ‘Active Travel Towns‘ programme represents further investment in the National Cycle Policy Framework as set out under the Programme for Government.
“This is a real boost for Thurles,” stated Cllr John Kennedy. “The town has been crying out for some investment and thankfully we have a local Minister in Alan Kelly who is able to provide that. I’m glad to see it will bring some employment and will improve the ability for children to get more safely through the town and with less danger from traffic. It will also see an active travel coordinator appointed for the town,” Cllr John Kennedy continued.
Announcing the news at lunch time today, Minister Alan Kelly, said the news would have a hugely positive benefit on the town of Thurles and make cycling provision much easier and safer for children in particular.
“This represents a major investment in Thurles and is great news for the town. In the first instance, jobs will be created during the construction of this infrastructure. Secondly, it will significantly improve cycling facilities for commuters and families alike. Cycling has a huge role to play in people’s quality of life and I am delighted to be able to announce this funding for Thurles,” Minister Kelly stated.
“We are trying to create a more cycle-friendly and walking-friendly culture in Ireland. Infrastructure is one dimension but you have to do more to get people to change their behaviour. Better infrastructure needs to be combined with education initiatives and that is exactly what we are doing with this programme. We have moved away from just funding piece-meal projects to try and get a combined planned approach to walking and cycling and linking it to a town as a whole strategy. This will combine infrastructure improvements with behavioural change measures to encourage people to use the new infrastructure and to leave the car at home. There is huge scope for change and this needs to be driven locally,” concluded Minister Kelly.
The National Cycle Policy Framework outlines the importance of creating a culture of cycling in Ireland if cycling mode share is to increase. Securing effective increased bicycle and walking mode share requires a focus to be placed on population and employment centres.The Active Travel Towns programme is a multi-annual funding support programme to support the strategic development of walking and cycling in towns outside the Greater Dublin Area. The principal objective of the Active Travel Towns programme is to achieve modal shift from car to either walking and/or cycling within towns.
A competitive funding scheme was launched in July 2013 seeking local authority proposals to deliver walking and cycling infrastructure with a key focus on behaviour change interventions in towns around the country. 46 projects were submitted under this funding call from 19 local authorities. Funding is now being provided for nine of these proposals. The funding will deliver a good balance of infrastructural measures for walking and cycling coupled with focused behavioural change interventions and evaluation measures to ensure modal shift with towns is achieved. The successful projects place strong focus on interlinks between residential areas, workplaces and schools and, in many cases, public transport.
Cycling the proposed Thurles routes with Councillor Kennedy this morning, Minister Kelly stated; “This funding is going towards realising the programme for Government commitment to continue to invest and expand in our national cycling infrastructure.“