All teens should be given a free e-bike when they turn 16, an environmentalist has suggested.
Communications professional Katie Harrington said she felt little of substance came out of COP27 and that politicians need to be more innovative in order to tackle the climate crisis.
“I was just thinking about how we create a next generation that is less dependent on cars,” she told Lunchtime Live.
“I know that when I was a teenager, I would have loved to have been able to get around without asking my parents for lifts, my parents would have loved if I was asking for fewer lifts but I was 8km from the nearest town.
“So, a 16km round trip on a regular bike might have been a bit of a challenge but for a 16-year-old on an e-bike it should be very doable.”
She has calculated that it would cost the State €35 million annually and believes this is a much better use of public funds than building more roads.
“To put that figure in context, I live in Galway and the Galway Ring Road is going to cost €600 million,” she said.
“So, you could run this scheme for 15 years, 16 years for the price of this one road in Galway.
“Is it pointless if they don’t use them? It’s easy to say things like that; there’s other initiatives that we’ve had like the smoking ban where people said, ‘That’s never going to work, people aren’t going to stop smoking in pubs, not going to happen.’
“It’s easy to talk down ideas and there’s a lot of Irish people with a problem for every solution.”
Last year, the Scottish Government promised it would give every pupil in primary school a free bike if they cannot afford to buy one themselves.
The policy will cost an estimated £2.5 million but one Lunchtime Live caller was sceptical about rolling out a universal version of the scheme in Ireland.
“€35 million to give people bikes - if people want a 16-year-old to have a bike, buy them,” Gary said.
“That €35 million could go to the disability community.”
He also said he was concerned about the safety of e-bikes.
“Shall we give them a free pass to the emergency department as well?” he added.
“The amount of injuries that are caused by e-bikes worldwide are frightening - specifically traumatic brain injuries.
“They’re heavier, hard to control, harder to steer, harder to stop and, let’s be honest, teenagers are not the most responsible people in the world.”
Main image: Teenagers on bikes. Picture by: Alamy.com