The Minister for Transport, Noel Dempsey TD has launched a €50 million national competition aimed at funding and delivering innovative examples of sustainable travel in urban and rural areas right around the country.
The purpose of the competition is to help people to leave their cars at home when they can and for them to opt instead to walk, cycle or use other more sustainable forms of transport, particularly for short journeys.
The Department of Transport-run competition is open to Local Authorities to submit proposals for developing sustainable travel systems in rural areas or towns.
The Minister is committing €50m over five years from 2010-2015 to fund the successful projects that are chosen through this competition.
Speaking to Local Authority Sustainable Travel Officers and City and County Managers at the launch of the National Competition in the Royal Hospital in Kilmainham, Minister Dempsey said - “Too often, our transport solutions have been narrowly designed and have looked at the private car as the primary means of moving people around.
"Today, that focus on the car has to change - I want this competition to help us deliver more people-focused travel and transport systems nationwide. There are many people who would often like to leave their car at home and maybe walk or cycle to work or school if they felt that it was safe and easy to do so. Indeed, there are people who might want to walk or cycle for part of their journeys in combination either with public transport or the car.
"I think it’s time that we concentrated on those people and helped them to travel differently. That’s what this competition is all about.”
Successful bids from Local Authorities will promote sustainable transport modes and better managed traffic in towns, villages or cities nationwide. A Smarter Travel Area funded under this competition could, therefore, include:
* Improved cycling routes, including safe routes to school and major business and workplace zones;
* Secure cycle parking in town centres or at public transport nodes;
* Better walking facilities, including more and improved pedestrian zones;
* Lower speed limits in residential and town centre areas;
* Restricted car access to certain locations;
* School and workplace travel planning;
* Car clubs - and
* Tailored public transport services, such as demand responsive services.
Smarter Travel Areas will provide an opportunity to demonstrate the benefits of sustainable transport, promoting and encouraging walking and cycling and reducing car travel, by improving travel facilities and promoting and encouraging behavioural change.
In this competition, preference will be given to Local Authority bids that develop proposals around community-based networks, involving local businesses, schools, retail centres, etc.
Initial bids should be submitted by Local Authorities to the Department of Transport by October 30, 2009. Those shortlisted will be invited to submit full proposals and business cases by end March 2010. The winners will be announced in May 2010 with funding beginning in June 2010.
The competition follows on from the publication of the Government's new transport policy in February 2009 - Smarter Travel: a sustainable transport future.