Families who want to send their children to school on bikes should receive the same support that employees get under the Bike to Work scheme, according to Cork Labour Representative Peter Horgan.
Since 2009, employees can use a salary sacrifice arrangement to save up to 51% of the retail price of bike and equipment, up to €1000. Mr Horgan, who will be a candidate in Cork City South East Ward next year, has secured backing from the Labour Party national conference for the creation of a similar Bike to School incentive.
“This is an incentive that would see a sharp rise in the numbers availing of cycling lanes and cycle paths in their commute to school and college,” said Mr Horgan.
“Our cities are choked with traffic. Our estates and communities are riddled with rat-running as motorists seek to take the quickest route as fast as possible putting those most vulnerable to a road accident - children, those with buggies, those in wheelchairs, those who may not be the steadiest on their feet - in harm's way.”
He pointed to CSO statistics that showed less than 2% of students heading to school and college in his area use bikes, with the majority travelling by car.
“In my own area of Cork taking in Mahon, Blackrock, Ballintemple, Ballinlough and Douglas - 66% of those commuting to school or college do so in a private car,” he said. “That’s just over 6,000 people. How many commuted on bike? 121 people. There is something radically wrong.”
Mr Horgan acknowledged fears about safety and said the focus should be on making Cork roads less dangerous for cyclists.
“Cycling is not dangerous it is the activity of reckless drivers that is dangerous,” he said. Our roads are becoming more and more dangerous for vulnerable road users. But that is Not a reason to abandon all hope of a different path to take. There is an onus on all of us to make roads safer.”
His motion will now form part of the Labour Party’s national policy on transport.