The National Transport Authority says funding for sustainable transport projects is continuing to increase exponentially and planning and capacity issues are the main obstacles to new infrastructure.

It says local authorities are expected to draw down €241m for walking, cycling and public transport projects this year, more than double what was spent last year.

The NTA's 2020 report on sustainable transport has revealed that funding for walking, cycling and public transport for last year reached €107m up from just under €40m in 2019.

Around half of last year's funding was dispersed to local authorities through the Covid Interim Mobility fund and the July Jobs Stimulus Plan.

But the NTA's head of Transport Development Michael Aherne said that although the pandemic may not be a factor next year funding will continue to total more than €200m in 2022.

"It's a building programme so we can expect to spend a little more next year. The commitment in the programme for government is €1.8 billion over five years and we are part of that."

The key delays are not funding but planning decisions by local authorities or An Bord Pleanála and capacity in terms of contractors and construction or staff in local authorities.

On bigger projects building business cases or securing sign off can take some time.

Last year a little over half the funding was shared between three local authorities Dublin City Council, Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown and Cork City Council. Up to this year funding was available to councils in Dublin and neighbouring counties through the Greater Dublin Area grant scheme and to Cork, Limerick, Galway and Waterford city councils through the Regional Cities grant.

But this year the other 19 local authorities have been able to gain access through the active travel grants scheme

Michael Ahern says the response has been impressive with 340 projects proposed.

"It's ambitious €70M from a standing start but we expect them to have spent the majority of it by the end of the year."

A lot of the projects have been improving footpaths or active travel access to local schools in towns.

Fiona O'Driscoll, a Senior Programme Manager at the NTA, said they are really scaling up in terms of delivering walking and cycling projects.

Speaking on RTÉ's Drivetime, Ms O'Driscoll said €107 million was spent last year on 170 projects, while this year the plan is to spend €240 million on over 800 projects.

She said trials of cycle paths are useful tools to determine people's real life experience of the street.

Engineering is often the least problematic part of the project, she said, and that it is often trying to bring the local community on board.

Separately, Green Party leader Eamon Ryan has said the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications will be strengthening the legal powers of local authorities, enabling them to create more new cycle paths and bus lanes.

The Minister for Transport said he will bring forward an amendment to an existing bill which would give much greater clarity to the area.