Mobility Plan Could Provide Viable Transport Alternatives for Kilkenny

This is a press release I issued last week. I find it incredible that many of the alternatives I put forward during the Oral Hearing for the Central Access Scheme now form part of this proposed policy. The same consultants were used here and they referenced the ‘2020 Vision Sustainable Travel and Transport’ document to inform this policy shift. Yet during the oral hearing they admitted they weren’t aware of the new policy direction of the Department of Transport. Don’t get me wrong, I’m delighted they’re taking many of my recommendations on board, including the transport forum, but I am left wondering if this were presented at the Oral Hearing, the rationale for the road would have been completely debased. In any event I could have saved the Council a few quid by letting them use my submission!
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Many aspects of a new mobility plan for Kilkenny City and Environs have the potential to make the City one of the most progressive regional towns in the Country in dealing with urban mobility and Transport. Cllr Malcolm Noonan believes that many measures of the plan if fully implemented can offer planners a viable alternative to the Central Access Scheme and at a fraction of the cost. He also disagrees with the Consultants contention that ‘soft’ measures in the draft plan cannot be implemented without the Central Access Scheme.

The Draft Urban Mobility Plan for Kilkenny City and Environs was presented to members at last Monday’s meeting of Kilkenny Borough Council. Among the main measures in the plan are provisions for an extended cycle lane network, options for park and ride scheme, public transport options and educational programmes including ‘walking buses’ for schools. However the plan states that many of the measures such as one way systems and pedestrianisation of High St cannot be introduced unless the Central Access Scheme (CAS) is given the go ahead.

‘There are many innovative proposals in this plan that are in line with alternatives put forward during the CAS Oral Hearing. I am encouraged by the fact that the Council is now seriously considering public transport and taking on board my call for the establishment of a County Transport Forum to oversee all these measures. Emerging policy from the Department of Transport (DoT) is encouraging us to change the way we plan our transport systems. The Local Authority is now using the DoT ‘2020 Vision-Sustainable Travel and Transport’ document to inform this plan but failed to use it to inform their justification for the Central Access Scheme’ stated Cllr Noonan.

Cllr Noonan stated that a mobility plan cannot be considered in full until a decision is made on the Central Access Scheme by An Bord Pleanala. ‘Many of the measures outlined in the plan can be brought forward without a decision, however we can only plan the movement of people around the city when we know the full context within which we are working’ he said.

He also said that public transport may not require heavy subvention from the Local Authority if a partnership approach were to be adopted with State Street, businesses in the Purcellsinch Business Park, the Watershed and other large transport users and if it were linked with an integrated system involving rural transport providers.

‘An approach like this will give public transport the necessary critical mass and facilitate the roll out of bus shelters and signage. I am encouraged by the ambitious programme for the expansion of the cycle lane network but this must be backed up by adequate cycle parking facilities in the city’ he said. ‘I would urge members of the public to make submissions on the draft plan in the coming weeks to the Borough and County Council’, he concluded.