— Two schools and large housing estates left with no safe cycling access
— Kildare County Council, National Transport Authority to blame says group
Funding from the National Transport Authority for a new footpath without any consideration to cycling has “copperfastened” the lack a safe cycling route between most the town and schools on the Celbridge Road on the outskirts of Maynooth, Co Kildare, the Maynooth Cycling Campaign has said.
The Celbridge Road includes two primary schools, Gaelscoil Uí Fhiaich and Maynooth Educate Together, as well as large housing estates. The footpath works were carried out in August.
“The Maynooth Cycling Campaign is opposed to the proposed National Transport Authority (NTA) expenditure of €100,000 on a missing section of footpath on Celbridge Road, as it will copperfasten a situation where over 1,000 children have no facilities to cycle to school. We call on councillors to ensure that this work does not proceed without a clear plan on how cyclists will be catered for and the timescale involved. Otherwise money will be wasted on a short term measure which will have to be undone in the future,” said the campaign on their website, before the works were finished in August.
The Maynooth Cycling Campaign said that the response of the Kildare County Council area engineer was that “Unfortunately there is insufficient space for a cycle path”, but the campaign said that this is incorrect.
“Of course, it is incorrect to state that there is insufficient space. There are no people who have to be uprooted from their homes. There are no buildings that have to be demolished. There is, as far as we are aware, no rare plant or animal that will become extinct as a result. As can be seen from the photograph, there is ample space for a high quality facility except for a short section close to the Straffan Road. So why does the Council give this response?,” said the campaign.
It added: “One definition of ‘unfortunate’ is ‘not favoured by fortune or luck’. One thing is quite certain – luck has nothing to do the lack of cycle facilities in Maynooth – it is due to decisions by officials who ignore political policies and targets and to a lesser extent elected politicians who do not hold officials to account. Kildare County Council bears most of the blame for the lack of proper planning of the Celbridge Road but the National Transport Authority is also to blame for ignoring the needs of cyclists.”
Kildare County Council granted planning permission for Gaelscoil Uí Fhiaich on the Celbridge Road in the the early 2000s, but no cycle facilities were provided and around ten years later when permission was given for the second school, Maynooth Educate Together, no cycle facilities were provided either. The campaign said that this was “despite the objectives of the Kildare County Development Plan to promote cycling and Safer Routes to School”.
“Government policy has been to favour increased cycling for some twenty years. It originated in the early 1990s in the aftermath of the Taoiseach John Bruton being stuck in a traffic jam on Pearse Street and since then all political parties have supported increased cycling. This promotion was reinforced in 2009 when the government published the National Cycle Policy Framework and adopted a national target of 10% commuting by bicycle to school and work by 2020. In practice though, while cycling has increased in Dublin City, in Kildare it remains less than 2%.”
UPDATED: The article was originally written as if the footpath work was yet to be started. The work was finished in August and the article was changed to reflect this.