Wednesday 30 April 2008

City to get new cycling officer

Minister for the Environment John Gormley has reversed his department's decision to refuse to sanction the appointment of an engineer to develop safe cycling routes in Dublin city.

An official in the department wrote to Dublin City Council last February saying she had been directed by Mr Gormley to say that he could not fund the post because of Government policy on public sector employment. When contacted last month by The Irish Times a spokesman for Mr Gormley said he had not been made aware of the request or the refusal

The request had been made by the council's traffic department following a meeting of its cycling forum which had raised concerns about the serious lack of resources dedicated to cycling and the low number of cycling lanes, despite Government assertions that it wanted people to stop using their cars for commuting.

The chair of the cycling forum, Labour councillor Andrew Montague, said it was particularly disappointing that Mr Gormley, who is known to be a keen cyclist, would refuse to sanction the appointment of a cycling officer.

The council has had no engineer dedicated to maintaining cycling facilities such as fixing potholes in bicycle lanes, resurfacing lanes, planning new lanes, locating bicycle racks and identifying junctions where cyclists are in danger. This job has been done by various engineers in the traffic department, in addition to their normal work.

The council said it has now been given sanction for the new position and will advertise the job in the coming weeks. The new cycling officer will audit all existing cycling infrastructure, design new infrastructure, prepare an upgrade programme, and promote cycling through education and training programmes.

Chairman of the council's traffic and transport committee Labour's Seán Kenny yesterday welcomed the decision.

"At last Dublin City Council will be able to put a qualified senior engineer into this vital position," he said.

Olivia Kelly
The Irish Times

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