Last summer it was announced with great enthusiasm by Minister of State for Public & Commuter Transport, Alan Kelly (who is from Nenagh), that nearly €1 million (€880k) would be invested in the development of a cycle lane between Limerick and Nenagh. I had a look at the plans and it didn’t take too long to figure out that this was going to be a monumental waste of good money. I wasn’t alone in holding this view. A number of critical submissions were made to the two local authorities involved during the public consultation phase and the local press even picked up on it, extensively quoting one official in the process (here).
Through the Smarter Travel fund, there was money available to develop cycle lanes in the region. So, when the new motorway between Limerick and Dublin finally opened up, and traffic volumes accordingly reduced on the old N7, it became clear to those in charge that they could get 64km of cycle lane by converting the hard shoulder of the old road. On paper that looks pretty good, and to these decision makers that’s all that really mattered. The fact that a cycle lane was neither sought nor required here and that the investment would provide virtually no benefit to the general public, nor to anyone else apart from those directly involved in the works was immaterial.
Quite simply, the decision to develop this cycle lane was an abuse of the Smarter Travel fund, and a significant waste of public money. While the buck should stop with the Minister, those who devised the plan must surely bear some of the responsibility. But I suspect that a few more white elephants will be pushed through before somebody shouts stop.
The work appears to be complete now, so why not head out the old N7 on your bike and take a good look at how your money is being spent.
How to spend €880,000 (as per the Limerick Post articled linked above)
€440,000 – removal of existing road markings
€80,000 – signage
€90,000 – survey work
€220,000 – civil work
(the balance of the spending, which amounts to €50k, wasn’t explained in the article)