5,000 people call for East Coast Greenway in Wicklow

Over 5,000 people and counting have signed a petition for a greenway between the towns of Wicklow, Kilcoole, Newcastle and Greystones.

The East Coast Greenway group, the authors of the petition, said that the project would be a benefit to the physical and mental health and well being of locals, a boost for tourism, and it should include defences to stop the coastal erosion which has “increased at an alarming rate.”

The group said: “Generations of people have enjoyed the beautiful sea walk along this coast, but in recent years, coastal erosion has wiped out vast areas of land, making the walk very narrow and difficult in places. The area will not survive many more east coast storms. We passionately believe that funding is URGENTLY required for coastal erosion protection, with a cycle and walking Greenway built at the same time.”

They added: “Our East Coast Greenway group consists of concerned citizens and local councillors from all the towns along the route and we are frustrated that our elected and public officials cannot see the urgency and strategic importance of this project. They can and need to do more with a greater sense of urgency.”

The route would be part of East Coast trail — the costal route planned in the Greater Dublin Area Cycle Network Plan, which was drawn up by the National Transport Authority.

The authority said it will eventually extend within the Greater Dublin Area from Arklow in the south to Drogheda in the north and would “mostly along greenways separated from traffic, and with some localised use of quiet minor roads in the areas most removed from the city.”

The petition can be found at change.org.

I am editor of IrishCycle.com and have reported on and commented on cycling in Ireland for over a decade.

6 Comments

  1. TII/NRA were appointed by Minister Ross to develop and deliver Greenways and cycling infrastructure in this country. This situation on the east coast is another example of why TII/NRA is unsuitable for this task. For the benefit of cycling in Ireland Shane Ross needs to rethink this appointment.

  2. Leinster Wheeler July 30, 2018 at 3:42 pm

    I don’t think that you should blame the NRA/TII. They were commissioned to look at a number of cross-country corridors for utility and recreational purposes which would form the basis for a national cycle network. They did this. Now the DTTaS has consigned the ‘national cycle network’ to the bin and instead greenways for recreational purposes are the flavour of the month.

  3. @Diff daff
    “This situation on the east coast is another example of why TII/NRA is unsuitable for this task”

    Wow, so the NRA/TII are to blame for coastal erosion? If you read the writeup on the change.org page, you will see that this project proposal is really about coastal erosion. The greenway is at best an after-thought, at worst an attempt to gussy it up to encourage public support for what is likely to be a hugely expensive exercise.

    Shoehorning the NRA/TII into this is a stretch but, since you bring it up, your arguments against the NRA/TII do not make rational sense from an infrastructure perspective; a central body is far more suited to national transport projects than individual county councils. The example of the Dublin to Galway greenway is a perfect example of this. Up until recently, progress was dictated by the willingness of each of the many relevant County Councils to find the money and to bother working on their section. The results were piecemeal and illogical in that the Dublin and Kildare sections that would most benefit commuters and provide a gateway to the West for cycle tourists are still a long way from completion while in Westmeath and other areas, great progress has been made. The NRA/TII are now providing the impetus, perspective and scope to implement the project correctly at a national level and progress has picked up significantly.

    This is your second dig at the NRA/TII in the last few days (both since the publishing of the greenway strategy) and it is clear that your main beef is regarding how farmers West of teh Shannon were treated by the NRA/TII in the earlier stages of the Dublin Galway greenway. A position also held by the IFA. Perhaps you represent them or are you on a personal crusade? Either way, you are no doubt aware that while they admit to “insensitivities” in the past, there is now a new code of practice in place that should ensure no reoccurrence of whatever happened in the past.

  4. @Leinster Wheeleer
    To promote cycling as a real alternative mode of transport this country needs a National Cycle Network (NCN). Eurovelo guidelines should have been used to deliver this in 2015. TII/NRA completed the Business Plan for the NCN (even though the project was sponsored by Failte Ireland) and suggested that 100% of the route west of the Shannon should be greenway even though only 16% of the continental Eurovelo routes are greenway. TII/NRA wrote to then Transport Minister, Leo Varadkar, telling him that there was no state owned land west of the Shannon to accommodate a cycle route (which is false) and that the only way to proceed was to CPO farmland and private property. This led to the TII/NRA‘s disastrous confrontation with land owners in 2015 and the failure of the project.
    To ensure that they do not have to consider alternative routes the project is now limiting itself to greenway only. TII/NRA are completing the Business Plan. The director of services at Westmeath County Council, which is the lead county council on the project, in an Irish Times interview last January stated that CPO will be used to deliver the route from Athlone to Galway which will result in a “more expensive and less community-focused greenway”.
    It appears that TII/NRA have learned nothing from 2015 and again are arrogantly going to try and force the greenway through over the heads of the rural population. People want a National Cycle Network which they can use to commute and not a tourism cycling project designed and delivered by TII/NRA, a state body best known for building motorways.
    @aka
    My apologies. I did not read the change.org page and so to clear up any misunderstanding I am not suggesting that TII/NRA are responsible for coastal erosion. I agree with you that a central body is far more suited to national transport projects than individual county councils but following the fiasco west of the Shannon in 2015 I do not believe that TII/NRA should be the central body leading a project to deliver cycling tourism infrastructure.
    You appear to suggest in your comment that TII/NRA are only now coming on board with this project. This is not true. TII/NRA have been running this project since at least 2010. It was TII/NRA who advised then transport minister Leo Varadkar to CPO private property west of the Shannon as they falsely claimed that there was no state land available. It was TII/NRA who completed the Business Plan for the now defunct National Cycle Network project.
    If you read the Greenway Strategy you will no doubt note that the code of practice which you refer to has not yet been drawn up.
    And yes, I am on a personal crusade.

  5. @Diff daff

    “People want a National Cycle Network which they can use to commute and not a tourism cycling project designed and delivered by TII/NRA”

    I’m sorry, but this is simply not true. If you visit the Waterford or Mayo greenways, you will see that they are primarily leisure amenities, with thriving tourist servicing businesses springing up all along the routes. That they can also cater for a certain amount of commuting in more urban areas is a significant advantage but is far from the primary focus. The Dublin-Galway greenway will be a multipurpose amenity with 4 main use cases; local leisure cyclists, leisure cyclists from other parts of Ireland, foreign tourist leisure cyclists and commuters. But it has huge stretches where only leisure cyclists would ever venture; commuting would really only be expected to be a factor in Greater Dublin and in the hinterlands of the major towns along the route, the primary use will be leisure and tourism. And the economic benefits this will bring to the areas the route passes through will be substantial.

    Leisure cyclists are not interested in cycling alongside major roads (as has previously been suggested for this project); they are looking for scenic routes, beautiful views, quaint villages; you know, touristy stuff. That of course can include quiet lanes, but the enormous numbers of one-off houses means that almost no lane is quiet, and cars tend to tear down these idyllic rural lanes. Traffic calming measures might help, but you can imagine the outcry that would create.

    For me a logical route from Athlone would be to follow the Shannon and then the River Suck as far as Ballinasloe. From there to Galway, who knows? Perhaps you can elaborate on how state lands could fulfill this requirement while ensuring tourist expectations are met without any need for CPOs?

    Fair enough that the code of practice may not yet be in place, but there is an acknowledgement that there may have been issues with the approach taken in the past that will not be repeated. Nevertheless, CPO must remain an option available to the relevant authorities in the process, or a single aggrieved person can scupper the entire project.

  6. @aka
    I’m glad you mention the success of both the Mayo and Waterford cycle routes. The Mayo route is mostly segregated off road and not greenway. It was built using permissive access, not CPO, and has the support of the local community. The Waterford route is built on state owned land. Why is TII/NRA ignoring the methods used to successfully deliver these routes? Why is TII/NRA still focused on using the CPO of private property as the primary method of delivering cycling infrastructure? This is one reason why I believe TII/NRA should be stood down from this project.
    To encourage a sustainable cycling culture in this country people have to be offered practical alternative to motor transport. To achieve this we need more commuter cycling routes, and not just in the cities.
    In your comment you ask how state lands can fulfil tourist expectations without any need for CPOs? The answer to this is very simple. The route from Dublin to Athlone is built on state lands without any need for CPO. The Waterford route is built on state lands without any need for CPO. The Mayo route was built without any need for CPO. If these routes are a tourist success why change the formula.

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