COMMENT & ANALYSIS: They might have different reasons than us, but businesses objecting to a cycle route in Naas, Co Kildare, are correct — a planned cycle route in Naas should not be built, or at least not to its current design (EDITED, see note below).
In the Leinster Leader, journalist Paul O’Meara finishes his article in support of businesses by saying: “There is no guarantee that cycles lanes will be used anyway. Naas is not Copenhagen where there are more bikes than cars. Most lanes in Naas are under utilised. ‘Build them and they’ll come’ we’re told. They built Naas Shopping Centre and nobody came.”
Often we’d take issue with this type of stuff, but the cycle route in question — the Kilcullen Road cycle route — is not worth fighting for unless its design can be improved. O’Meara is correct, the route will not do much to encourage cycling. Maybe more to the point it will not do enough.
It could easily be a continuous cycle route but instead the council and NTA have opted for a route which goes from walking and cycling shared on footpaths to cycle tracks to cycle lane and then shared a surface with heavy traffic in the town centre.
This design is not suitable for children or most would-be cyclists because it mixes cycling with heavy traffic and it will also annoy walkers and cyclists who don’t want to be mixed on footpaths.
Parking spaces is a bit of a red herring. The number of parking spaces around the two shops in question — Larry Swan and Pat Goulding — could easily be doubled or more without any major affect on the project.
Circled below we have found 10 to 12 extra parking spaces compared what’s planned:
As shown on the right of the above image, the design towards the town centre mixes cycling and heavy traffic.
Then the main side road here (Ballymore Rd) is to be narrowed but no provision is being made for space for cycling — this is important because cycle routes alone don’t get many people cycling. You need cycle networks for that. An alternative would be to link the cycle route on the Kilcullen Road directly to the paths in the Fair Green park, but that also is not done.
As shown on Street View, pictured above, the section towards the town centre is actually a wide space. There’s no need for cycling and motorists to be mixed along most of this stretch of street.
The Street View image shows a section which is around 18 metres wide — the council and NTA design makes little sense as the above shows what can be fit into the same space. Our design above shows what can fit in the space (our design, using streetmix.net).
The narrowest section nearest the core of Naas town centre can fit the above (our design, using streetmix.net).
Between sharing with cars and shared with footpaths the middle section of the route is the best section (Pictured is the proposed design by council).
But the section outside the Garda station is between 16 and 18 metres wide, so we’re not sure what the parking was removed — at least some of it will fit even with a better level of segregation… are the Gardai committed enforcing parking law on what will be a wide footpath and cycle path? If not or if maybe, it’s best to provide parking spaces here.
South of the Garda station cycling and walking are mixed on shared use footpaths (Pictured above and in the two images below is the proposed design by council).
It would only require a small strip of three front gardens — by agreement or CPO — to give cycling and walking both their own space.
But the south end of the project shows that giving cycling and walking their own space is not a priority for the council or the NTA who has agreed to fund this scheme — there’s ample green space which could be used.
And we’re not talking about all of the space marked in green above, much of the space behind the shared path is a green bank of what seems to be council-owned land.
Then on the roundabout, there’s no formal cross on the east side towards all the schools which were poorly located outside the South Ring Road.
Basically: This route isn’t of a high enough quality. Towns like Naas need high-quality cycle networks and they need buy in to get these right.
The start of a high-quality cycle network would not look like the above scheme. Phase one would quickly add or upgrade many kilometres of routes around the town by using Naas’ green spaces and wider roads — linking residential areas to work places and schools. It would include making crossings and junctions safer; knocking walls or fences to add to permeability; and it would focus on removing shared sections on existing routes (not adding to such).
The approach of the Kilcullen Road cycle route is not worth defending, unless some large design improvements can be made.
NOTE, EDITED: The end of the first paragraph was edited and the line , “or at least not to its current design” was added to the end of it. This is to reflect the view that the issue is the current design of the project. The approach of tackling this road is acceptable is the design is of high-quality, but if a low-quality design is approved, the focus and funding would be better spent on other projects first.
The headline was also edited to reflect this and “its design needs to be better first” was added to the headline, and “unless some large design improvements can be made” was added to the concluding paragraph.