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Irish Cycle Facility of the Week

October 28, 2014:

Great Western Greenway

The Great Western Greenway is a great cycle overall — the coast and inland views across the west coast of Mayo in the west of Ireland are fantastic, and a largely off-road route is a pleasure. But the greenway has its faults. One of the worst ones is located where the route enters Mulranny village.

A “cyclists dismount” sign — a sign overused where its not needed at road works in Ireland so much that it can usually be safely ignored. Its use in the UK — sometimes just when a route crosses a side road — means that it has lost nearly all meaning for visitors from over the small pond.

On the recent trip where these images were taken, the Great Western Greenway starts off by following usual example. Between Westport and Mulranny the sign was used on two locations, in one case road works were ongoing but not active for the weekend and another case where all that remained of the works were a few traffic cones. We were left scratching our heads as to why we’d dismount even if the workers had been working over the weekend.

Great Western Greenway

…So, when you pass dismount sign at this location, you might be mistaken for thinking that the dismount side was in place just for this cracked surface at the side of the road, but…

Great Western Greenway

…as you turn the corner, you find out that the dismount sign is one of the few which should be followed. The photo likely does not do this hill justice — it’s hillageddon. Even after dismounting it was difficult stopping the child-carrying trailer from pushing down on top of the bicycle in our hands.

A friendly local was thankfully on hand to help push the trailer back up the next day on our return trip.

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Great Western Greenway

Above is another perspective, from the bottom of the hill.

steep desent

Why wasn’t this sign used? The Irish Traffic Signs Manual, which must be followed by local councils, states that the “Steep Descent [sign], should normally be used where the down gradient is greater than 10% for a distance of at least 30m”. Note: the gradient pictured is greater than 10%.   .

Great Western Greenway

But the real problem here is that the route turns to the left past the dismount sign at the junction. It should not. Compulsory purchase orders (CPOs) should have been used to allow the route to follow the old railway alignment and continue straight through the junction and down a far more forgiving gradient. However, its currently private property. It’s another example how permissive access has failed the route — leaving it short of being world class.

This problem is — from expensive things like CPOs to relatively cheap signs — cycle routes are treated as different than normal roads.

Location:  Great Western Greenway at Mulranny
Local body/authority: Mayo County Council
Street View: From the bottom of the hill only

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Cian Ginty


  1. Well put Cian!

    I too am fed up with road authorities treating cyclists with tokenism and reduced parity of esteem for our transport mode. Drivers would not be treated with this contempt.

    The national and motorway road network was built by CPO’s as and when necessary. No nonsense about permissive wayleave.

    road authorities have a duty under Road Act, 1993 to consider the needs of all road users. That means at least parity of esteem.

  2. Signs giving information on steep ascents and descents (anything above 5%) are hugely under-used across the board in Ireland, not just on cycle infrastructure.


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