A local group has strongly welcomed the approval of planned walking, cycling, public realm and bus facilities upgrades in Naas Co Kildare.
Kildare County Council are planning to create a public space at Poplar Square (artist’s impress pictured above), and improve the walking and cycling experience along the Dublin Road between the square in the town centre and the Maudlins roundabout at the outskirts of the town.
The project includes two metre wide segregated cycle paths along most of the Dublin Road — this is a mix of adding cycle paths to the majority of the road which currently lacks any cycling provision as well as upgrading shared use walking/cycling paths into separate paths for walking and cycling.
“The councillors who voted in favour of this should be commended for looking at the facts and not taking the easy option and voting against the measures, despite the pressures being exerted on them. Our task, over the coming months is to try and get the Naas business community behind this plan, to realise that the status quo is not working – we need to do better for our towns and cities,” said Mick O Donnell, a spokesman for the local campaign group Naas Neighbourhood Greenway.
He added: “Naas Neighbourhood Greenway, on behalf of people who wish to have better, smarter options for travel within Naas, worked very hard to try and win hearts and minds for this project, and succeeded in convincing a slim majority of the councillors to vote in favour of the development. This work will tie in with the local development plan, national sustainable transport strategy and the Kildare County Council’s vision to have Naas become a model town for smarter travel.”
The group said that there was extensive lobbying by the local businesses who fear the removal of parking at the town centre end of the project.
O Donnell said: “Kildare County Council were quite strong in their endorsement of this plan, as it will represent a major improvement for the safety of vulnerable road users in an area that is currently very heavily orientated towards vehicular traffic. There was however, extensive lobbying by the local businesses and traders against the proposal, due mainly to a fear that the removal of car parking spaces will impact upon local footfall.”
“Naas Neighbourhood Greenway strongly believe that the way forward for this urban centre is not to try and pull more vehicles into the area, but to enhance the environment and make it a more livable space, where people can socialise, shop and in general, enjoy living in their town again. Congestion is a problem in the area, and with the number of cars on the road on the increase, will not get any better. Therefore, having the foresight to embrace and encourage smarter travel modes, and to build a more livable space, as is currently and for a long time has been the state of play in many European cities is something to be proud of,” he said.
IMAGES: Draft example cross sections from the plans: