Limerick City, Dungarvan and Westport have officially become Ireland's Smarter Travel Demonstration Areas 2012-2016 representing a city area, medium-sized town and small town.
The three areas will see a combined investment €23 million over the next five years that will encourage a behavioural switch to more sustainable forms of transport.
He said: "These three places will become pioneering towns for sustainable transport in Ireland. Limerick, Dungarvan and Westport will be among the most innovative leaders in Ireland in terms of transport policy and investment.
"The three areas submitted excellent proposals for transforming people's travel behaviour, with support from local businesses and communities. The governments' investment in Smarter Travel Areas will reshape and transform these areas, reducing congestion and pollution, improving road safety, creating local employment opportunities, and improving people's health and fitness, as well as enhancing town and streetscapes locally.
"Smarter Travel Areas is a €23 million investment programme pioneering initiatives to look at different approaches to transport and spatial planning to encourage people out of their cars.
"A competition for investment was initiated in 2009 with local authorities invited to submit bids to become Ireland's first Smarter Travel Demonstration Areas.
"Limerick will see €9 million invested over the period with a further €7.2m for Dungarvan and €5 million going to Westport."
In broad terms, the funding will be spent on:
- improved cycling ways, including safe routes to school and to key business and workplace zones;
- secure cycle parking in town centres or at public transport nodes;
- better walking facilities, including pedestrianisation;
- lower speed limits in residential and town centre areas;
- school and workplace travel planning
- car clubs
Under the National Competition for Smarter Travel Areas, 39 initial applications were received from Local Authorities. 11 of these proposals were shortlisted - Cork City, Drimnagh, Dundalk, Dungarvan, Galway, Kilkenny, Limerick, Loughrea, Navan, Sandyford, and Westport.