E-SCOOTERS, drug driving and safer cycling could be some of the tasks on the ‘to-do’ list for the new joint role of Active Travel and Road Safety Officer at Clare County Council.
At the January meeting, Councillor Gabriel Keating called on the authority to appoint an officer to deal with the issues of active travel and road safety.
“In January 2021, Minister Eamon Ryan and Hildegarde Naughten launched funding for up to 248 jobs in local authorities to expand walking and cycling facilities all over the country, costing more than €1.8 billion during the lifetime of the government,” he said.
“One of the conditions was that each local authority will appoint an Active Travel Officer. Now regarding the Road Safety Officer, there has been a huge increase in the number of fatalities on our roads in Clare and I think it’s time now that we consider appointing a new full time Road Safely Officer.”
The motion was seconded by Councillor Joe Cooney who said the previous post holders had done “Trojan and and tremendous work”.
In the view of Councillor PJ Kelly, “active travel came in, informally, before it became official”.
“We hadn’t a parallel awareness of what the implications were,” he said. He described the number of cyclists on rural roads at night with proper lighting on the rear as “frightening”.
Councillor Joe Garrihy also supported the motion saying that cycle routes joining villages in North Clare would bring about “transformation”.
Councillor Pat Daly described the motion as “excellent”. “If we only save one life, it would be worth it,” he said.
Councillor Johnny Flynn said: “The new and evolving issues include drug and drink testing and the issue of vulnerable road users being exposed silent electrical vehicles and the use of E-scooters.”
The motion was described by Councillor PJ Ryan as “very timely”.
Senior Executive Officer Carmel Greene noted that the Active Travel grants have doubled from €25 million to €50 million in recent years. She said resources are an issue, forcing the authority to prioritise projects.
Ms Greene added that she had a meeting with the director of the National Transport Authority (NTA), who has agreed to increase the Council’s allocation based on its strong performance. “We are the best performing local authority and delivering the Active Travel Programme outside of the three main urban centres,” she noted.
“The NTA has agreed to give us an allocation for an Active Travel Officer, and I would want that person to perform the role of the Road Safety Officer as well.”
Fiona McGarry joined The Clare Champion as a reporter after a four-year stint as producer of Morning Focus on Clare FM. Prior to that she worked for various radio, print and online titles, including Newstalk, Maximum Media and The Tuam Herald.
Fiona’s media career began in her native Mayo when she joined Midwest Radio. She is the maker of a number of radio documentaries, funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI). She has also availed of the Simon Cumbers Media Fund to report on development issues supported by Irish Aid in Haiti.
She won a Justice Media Award for a short radio series on the work of Bedford Row Project, which supports prisoners and families in the Mid-West. Fiona also teaches on the Journalism programmes at The University of Galway.
If you have a story and would like to get in touch with Fiona you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 065 6864146.