For cyclists and those who love to amble, it was a good start to the year. Dublin City Council finally has its Cycling and Walking Promotion Officer in place.
Sarah Scannell has stepped into the post. She has worked in the past with the Dublin Commissioner for Startups.
Those with an eye on the development of sustainable transport in the city say they’re happy with the appointment, which brings back a post that was cut in 2011.
“I’m delighted,” said Green Party councillor Ciaran Cuffe. “This is a long overdue appointment. I’m happy it’s finally happened.”
Now Scannell will have to get to grips with the wishlists from interest groups around the city, as big changes are made to the city’s transport network. Not least, the changes that the Luas Cross City will bring about.
Colm Ryder of the Dublin Cycling Campaign says his group hopes to meet with Scannell soon, and that he has a “long list of issues for her. It’s a big ask, but we are hopeful that she will make a difference”.
One of the big issues, as Ryder sees it, is lack of funding for cycling. “This makes it hard to improve conditions. The government have made some pious statements in the past year. But it has nothing [no funding] going toward smarter travel; that hinders all local authorities.”
There are some great policies in place on cycling, said Green Party councillor Ciaran Cuffe. But “we need someone to make sure these are implemented and communicated with everyone,” he says. “I’m happy to see she’s taking on the brief of walking – it’s been the poor relation.”
Cuffe has some specific changes he’d liked to see: longer-lasting green men for pedestrians at traffic lights, and new programmes to encourage walking in schools. “These issues are really important,” he says.
At first, a Dublin City Council spokesperson said we can’t interview Scannell until September, because she’s settling into the job. Now, that’s been trimmed to April. So, we’ll be able to tell you more in a few months, perhaps.