Transport Minister Eamon Ryan says car exclusion zones could be considered around schools 'in some instances'.
He was speaking as funding of €289m has been announced for walking and cycling infrastructure this year.
Around 1,200 projects are to be undertaken as part of an acceleration of active post-pandemic travel.
The National Transport Authority (NTA) has allocated the funds to local authorities for walking and cycling projects.
Projects to be delivered include the Clontarf to city centre route in Dublin, MacCurtain Street in Cork, O'Connell Street in Limerick, and the Salmon Weir Bridge in Galway.
In rural areas projects include the Hanover Pedestrian and Cycle Scheme in Carlow and the N63 pedestrian and cycle scheme in Longford.
Minister Ryan told The Hard Shoulder it is time to change our approach to travel.
"We've to be very careful that what we don't see is just the return to gridlock - if everyone goes back to the way it was, we'll miss this opportunity to change our transport system.
"A lot of those office workers who've been remote working I think will continue to do so.
"And I think that gives us an opportunity to reallocate some of that road space, that was built up over decades for kind of a commuting pattern that is now changing - even as we come out of COVID.
"We need to accelerate the delivery so that we don't allow it to just return."
'It has to be safe'
Asked if car exclusion zones should be around schools, Minister Ryan says: "I think there's a whole range of different measures, and yes I think in some instances.
"Part of the problem is... if you go down the route of - OK the standard format is to drive - well then you're going to meet your problem is where does everyone drop off [sic], and all that car traffic in itself makes the school and the surroundings a difficult and dangerous environment.
"No one's here going to be saying to one parent 'You have to do this' or shaming anyone.
"Every school has different circumstances, but I think the vast majority of parents agree that they want to get their children active - but it has to be safe".
He says facilities will also be improved beyond the school gates.
"170 schools are getting an immediate programme of investment to improve their - not just the environment within the school in terms of bike parking - but also looking at the streets surrounding it, the approaches to the school to try and make that shift.
"And I'll be honest, we're only starting here".
"I think we need to give the clear priority, to give clear signal that this road - particularly outside schools - this is road where safety comes first.
"Where the school children - their ability to walk and cycle and take the bus and then walk - is given priority."
Minister Ryan says he believes a lot of places want to change.
"I think most cities and most councils are coming around to the view that actually this is a moment of change, and you want to be part of that rather than hanging on to old ways."
But he admits supporting these decisions can be difficult.
"These are often very difficult, political decisions because it is about how do you allocate space.
"And if you're going to create a safe space for walking and cycling, sometimes you have to - that means - take some of the road space, or it means maybe you have to hold the traffic back in terms of lower speeds or traffic lights.
"And they're difficult decisions.
"There are countries that have done this, and done it consistently over several decades."