— Kerry Cycling Campaign and Cyclist.ie welcomes project, wants design changes.
— Galway Cycling Campaign wants rejection of planning application.
Cycling campaigners have taken widely different views on the South Kerry Greenway — from two groups overall supporting it with a ask to fix details, to a third group calling for an outright rejection of the planning application for the walking and cycling route in its current form.
The 32km greenway is planned to go broadly parallel to the Ring of Kerry N70 route (pictured above) between Glenbeigh and Reenard via Cahersiveen in County Kerry. If approved by An Bord Pleanála, it will mostly — although not totally — run along the abandon alignment of part of the Farranfore to Valencia Harbour Railway.
The Kerry Cycling Campaign and Cyclist.ie — an umbrella body of a number of national cycling campaigns — welcome the project but want key design changes. Meanwhile, the Galway Cycling Campaign wants the rejection of planning application and for the council to resubmit a new planning application for the route.
Keith Phelan of the Kerry Cycling Campaign wrote in the group’s submission that: “We wish to indicate our full support to the proposed South Kerry Greenway which has the potential to revitalise the South Kerry area by opening up the region to increased tourism levels and to encourage greater levels of walking and cycling locally.”
However, the Kerry Cycling Campaign said that the chicanes designs which require cyclists to dismount at crossings of roads is contrary to the TII Rural Cycleway Design guidance. The group quotes the guidance which states: “Chicanes on approach should be provided to slow cyclists on the approach crossings. This is for speed control rather than access control measure and should not force users to dismount”
The Galway Cycling Campaign called the greenway route the “so-called South Kerry Greenway”.
On its website, it said: “The misguided and unhelpful conduct of some recent ‘greenway’ projects by local authorities has been hugely damaging to the brand of cycling and created needless acrimony between farming and cycling interests. The South Kerry scheme could set a positive or negative national precedent. If conducted incorrectly, it could set the national farming community in opposition to greenway projects for a generation. The Galway Cycling Campaign wishes to avoid this outcome and has made a submission to An Bord Pleanála.”
The group said that the council has failed to comply with EU directives on environmental impact assessment in not looking at all options for the route.
The Galway Cycling Campaign said that while the council looked at four options — on the main road, along the abandoned railway route, a new greenfield route, or do nothing — but that the council did not adequately look at using minor roads.
They said: “Consultants make no apparent mention of using minor country lanes or boreens. This option if available could involve little engineering and would be less environmentally damaging than any of the proposed works in the Environmental Impact Assessment Report (EIAR)… We find no discussion of this option – even to dismiss it – in the EIAR.”
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“We have discussed the Eurovelo guidelines previously in relation to the problematic Dublin Galway Greenway proposals. Tourist cycling routes should be kept well away from heavy traffic but they do not need to be completely traffic-free. Across Europe cycling tourists and family groups make extensive use of low-traffic roads as part of local and national cycle networks,” said the Galway Cycling Campaign.
The group said that it is not just a matter of “passively finding roads that match the criteria” but that “Local authorities will actively manage minor rural roads to reduce and divert inappropriate motor traffic and provide for walking and cycling.”
The Galway Cycling Campaign said: “The ordnance survey map shows a range of minor roads on the Iveragh Peninsula that might form part of the proposed route. Possible options can also be found using Google Streetview.”
The group wants the rejection of the current application and require that any new EIAR “reflects the relevant EU and state policies”.
Broadly welcomes, disappointed with design elements
Colm Ryder, chairperson of Cyclist.ie, said: “Cyclist.ie broadly welcomes this greenway proposal, which will improve local opportunities for active mobility, as well as attract increased visitors to the region and help to grow business and employment. However we are disappointed with a number of the design elements, that leave cyclists at a disadvantage and reduce their safety levels. These elements need to be rectified in any final design.”
He said there should be better links to and in villages and schools.
Cyclist.ie noted their “dismay the adherence to 3 metre wide route throughout the design” when guidence calls for wider on busier routes. Ryder said: “There is no doubt that the likely usage/demand on this route will be very high, and bike hire businesses will be set up to cater for expected business… This route should have a minimum desired width standard of at least 4 metres, and only be reduced to 3 metres in areas of constraint.”
“The detailed design of private road crossings, at entrances/exits to and from private property should clearly give preference to the Greenway users. In essence these crossings have been designed as crossings of public roads as outlined in TII guidelines, rather than recognising the limited use of these exits/entrances. It is imperative that the safety of route users is protected, and their use of the route given priority across these private roads. Vehicles entering and exiting at these crossing points should give way to Greenway users.”
Cyclist.ie also said there were sections of the route which are “unnecessarily circuitous route through a series of uncomfortable and unacceptable angular turns, which could be easily avoided.”
EDITED FOR CLARITY:An edit was made to the opening paragraph– it originally said “…to a third group calling for an outright rejection of the walking and cycling route in its current form” and this was changed to: “…to a third group calling for an outright rejection of the planning application for the walking and cycling route in its current form.” This clarity was already in the standfirst, so, the first paragraph should have been read in this context, but was added to the first paragraph to add clarity.
EDIT #2: The following paragraph was also added for clarity:The group wants the rejection of the current application and require that any new EIAR “reflects the relevant EU and state policies”. | Please note: It was the original intent of this article to include that the Galway Cycling Campaign wanted the application to be re-submitted.
EDIT #3: The line “…resubmit a new planning application for the route,” originally said resubmit a new plan for the route.” These two should be viewed as saying the same thing, but the wording was changed for clarity.