Portarlington has been underfunded for active travel for years, according to local Green Party representative John Holland.
He is calling on Laois County Council to now provide improved walking and cycling infrastructure.
“Portarlington and its surrounding areas need to be more pedestrian and cycle-friendly and more accessible for local residents of all ages and abilities,” says Mr Holland.
“We need to see Portarlington more as a place and less as a thoroughfare. The key consideration needs to be the vulnerable road user. This is clearly not currently the case in Portarlington where cars are the primary consideration in current planning and infrastructure.”
In a detailed submission to the County Council, Mr Holland has pointed out the changing commuter trends in the town and the growing level of remote working. He has highlighted the Council’s obligations under the Smarter Travel Scheme and the importance of using the Design Manual for Urban Roads and Streets (DMURS) as a guiding document for a new infrastructure.
“Portarlington is designated as a Key Service Town within Laois and should be treated accordingly,” he says.
Green Party Minister Pippa Hackett says funding has been made available to local authorities for this work and there is no longer any excuse for not providing a good active travel system in a town like Portarlington.
“The Government has made €50million available to local authorities for active travel as well as approving the appointment of 248 staff nationwide to work on improved infrastructure,” she points out.
“Giving Portarlington a good public realm in its town centre and good access for walking and cycling could dramatically change the town for the better. It has a particularly young population - 53% of the population is under 35 - and we could eliminate a lot of short car journeys by offering them betters routes to the town centre,” she said.