Ireland, Northern Ireland Transport and infrastructure

Dublin City Council implements active travel network across the city

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Image 4: Members of the Active Travel Programme Office showcase their work at Dublin City Council’s Pedalpalooza Bike Festival, 21 May 2023, as part of Bike Week.

Dublin City Council aims to transform the way people walk, wheel and cycle in the capital. Over the next eight years, the council will deliver 210km of the city-wide Active Travel Network. This will be complemented by 90km of active travel infrastructure delivered by the BusConnects programme and 10km of existing infrastructure. In total, Dublin City residents and visitors will have access to 310km of safe, accessible and convenient active travel infrastructure.

A key element of the Active Travel Network is its incorporation of all of Dublin City. Connected active cycling infrastructure will be rolled out across the city, giving Dublin residents and visitors the opportunity to traverse Dublin and experience its different areas and neighbourhoods safely and sustainably. Once complete, up to 95% of residents will be within 400 metres of this network. This has the capacity to revolutionise the way Dublin residents travel and interact with the cityscape.

How did it materialise? A cross-boundary vision

The Active Travel Network is a key component of the Greater Dublin Area Cycling Network Plan (2013) outlined by the National Transport Authority (NTA). This plan, which comprises seven Cycle Network Plans for seven local authority areas including Dublin City and its surrounding areas, is unique in its cross-boundary reach. Establishing a cycle network that is consistent across county boundaries sets a vision for a continuous network that does not end at the administrative boundary of a local authority. It is from this vision of the Greater Dublin Area that Dublin City Council’s Active Travel Network derives.

Image 1: Skeleton map of the 310km Active Travel Network. Detailed GIS maps are accessible here.
Image 1: Skeleton map of the 310km Active Travel Network. Detailed GIS maps are accessible here.

How will it be delivered? A Multi-disciplinary Team

Enabled by NTA funding, Dublin City Council’s Active Travel Programme Office (AcTPrO) was established in February 2022 to prioritise the design and construction of this network infrastructure. Led by Director Andy Walsh, AcTPrO is comprised of a multi-disciplinary team that includes engineers, architects, planners, walking and cycling officers, administrators, site staff, etc. This dynamic team will grow from its current team of 38 to 55 people to enable the full implementation of the Active Travel Network within the next eight years.

AcTPrO aims to embed innovation into its day-to-day work through holistic design, project transparency and ongoing public engagement. Endeavouring to optimise the network by maximising the number of people who support and actively use it, AcTPrO works to improve public communications using innovative methods such as interactive GIS (Geographic Information System) mapping. Active Travel Network maps enable the public to view the range of infrastructure schemes within the network and find out information about each scheme such as its current project stage and anticipated delivery timelines.

Why is it important?

Achieving Ireland’s climate action targets

Changing the way people travel is critical to realising Ireland’s national climate targets to transition to a climate-neutral economy by 2050 and achieve a 51% reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2030, compared to 2018 levels, as captured in its Climate Action Plan 2023 (CAP23). As transport is responsible for approximately 18% of Ireland’s GHG emissions, a shift away from the private car to more sustainable transport options is vital. The National Sustainable Mobility Policy, which sets the framework for change nationally, has set a 2030 target of 500,000 additional daily active travel and public transport journeys and a 10% reduction in kilometres driven by fossil-fuelled vehicles.

At a local level, Dublin City Council’s Dublin City Development Plan 2022 – 2028 sets out its plan for supporting Ireland’s climate action goals with modal shift targets for Dublin City. Working from 2019 figures, which show that 71% of people travel into Dublin by sustainable modes which include walking, cycling and public transport, the plan commits to increase the mode share for active travel (walking, cycling and micro-mobility) from 17% to 26% by 2028. This will be enabled with a suite of measures including the creation of a cycling culture in the city, the provision of cycling parking spaces, public realm enhancements and, critically, the roll-out of the Active Travel Network.

Fostering happier, healthier communities

Proximity to the Active Travel Network will produce multiple quality-of-life benefits for Dubliners. Enhancing people’s proximity, through active travel infrastructure, to services and amenities including parks, workplaces, schools, sports facilities and transport stations, will support economic activity, foster social connectedness and contribute to happier communities. By making it easier to access services and amenities actively, people’s health will improve. In a virtuous improvement cycle, a more active population will result in cleaner air, quieter streets and heightened outdoor ambience, which will facilitate further active travel. Furthermore, residents and tourists alike increasingly look to avail of experiential leisure opportunities that could be facilitated by the Active Travel Network with the potential to spread economic activity across the capital.

What are the projects? 80 bespoke schemes

The Active Travel Network comprises 80 infrastructure projects that will be delivered on a phased basis over eight years. Each project is bespoke and may include interventions such as grade-separated cycling facilities, safer pedestrian crossings, the decluttering and widening of footpaths, narrowing and reallocation of existing road space, and biodiversity promotion. Enabled by the multi-disciplinary AcTPrO team, projects will be considered holistically and where relevant will incorporate climate adaptation measures, such as tree planting, soft landscaping and nature-based Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems (SUDS), and the enhancement of public spaces to foster social cohesion. The requirements of people with reduced mobility or other additional needs will be considered to ensure that projects reflect Universal Design principles and are inclusive of all users.

The 80 active travel projects have been grouped into three delivery phases – ‘2022-2024’, ‘2025-2027’ and ‘Post 2027’. There are currently five schemes in construction, including two greenway routes, and over 30 projects in design. Key to the network’s implementation is the engagement of the public throughout the process, and the AcTPrO team conducts pre-design workshops, public consultations and walk-in information events for projects at their various stages. AcTPrO Director Andy Walsh understands the need to change behaviour alongside implementing physical infrastructure. He believes that, by engaging with the public and bringing them along to support and actively use the network, “Dublin will become a torch bearer in the development of a comprehensive active travel network, which will serve as a source of inspiration for other cities around the world”.

References

Greater Dublin Area Cycling Network Plan (2013)

Climate Action Plan 2023 (CAP23)

National Sustainable Mobility Policy  

More information about the Active Travel Network can be found at: Active Travel Network | Dublin City Council



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