The COVID-19 pandemic means cities such as Dublin are 'finally seeing the light' when it comes to road space for pedestrians and cyclists, Green Party MEP Ciarán Cuffe has said.
He said it's a 'good news story' that has emerged across Europe and the world in recent months.
The introduction of coronavirus restrictions earlier this year led to a number of significant changes in Dublin city centre, including the introduction of wider footpath space and dedicated cycle lanes along some heavily congested areas.
Meanwhile, the reopening of the city has seen a number of key streets temporarily closed to vehicles as part of weekend pedestrianisation trials.
Speaking on The Pat Kenny Show this morning, Mr Cuffe said the pandemic has meant people are suddenly investing green campaigners have been calling for.
He observed: “It’s not just happening in Dublin - all around Europe and indeed the world we’re seeing cities finally give the space for walking and cycling that campaigners have been looking for for a very long time.
"It's bringing people to walking and cycling who might not have got out of their cars before. It's making available wider footpaths, segregated cycle routes... and there's more to come on that.
“If you look at what was delivered in cities like Amsterdam or Copenhagen over the last 40 or 50 years, other cities are finally seeing the light and making available the space those who travel on foot or bike truly deserve."
He also said cities like Galway, Limerick and Cork deserve quality transport solutions that are already in place in Dublin, while it's long past time to 'start digging' for the planned Metro in Dublin.
Mr Cuffe said he believes there'll still be a place for private cars in cities and towns for a 'long time to come'.
However, he said the main goal is now to see a 'more rational and equal' sharing of road space.
The Dublin MEP also said it's vital there's a move towards cleaner vehicles, that that he hopes the likes of electric cars and trucks will become more affordable in the process.
He also suggested that 'clean air zones' - where there are restrictions on certain vehicle types in order to improve air quality - introduced in the likes of London are a 'reasonable and fair' idea.
Mr Cuffe has previously suggested that authorities "may have to take taxis out of certain routes in order to allow buses go quicker".
Today, he said the taxi industry is currently 'on its knees' due to the pandemic, and that it needs support from the Government.
However, he said there's also a need to look at restrictions for very congested areas such as the north quays or D'Olier / Westmoreland Street during rush hour.
He observed: “We need taxis to be able to get to every part of the city, particularly and rush hour and particularly the city centre. But there are some streets and roads where we need to look carefully at what sort of vehicles would be allowed into them during rush hour.
“There is certainly an argument that perhaps a taxi without passengers in it shouldn’t be allowed on a road that’s also being used by trams and buses.”
However, he stressed that is ultimately a decision for the NTA and Dublin City Council.