Navan councillors say bollards would enable cycle route and save historic walls

— Councillors suggest bollards and motoring detour to save wall.
— Public consultation re-started after error in process.

Two local councillors in Navan have suggested using bollards and diverting traffic to enable a cycle route in the town while saving trees and a historic wall.

The project has been re-advertised for public consultation which is open for comment on or before 4pm on Thursday February 7, 2019 –details can be found at meath.ie.

The plans for the Athlumney to Trim Road Cycle and Pedestrian Scheme were reviewed on IrishCycle.com in November. Since then, there has been substantial local opposition to cutting down trees and interfering with the boundary wall of Athlumney Castle. The boundary wall was to be knocked and re-built further back to make space to accommodate including a one-way lane, a footpath and a contra-flow cycle path.

The campaign opposing the cutting down of the trees and moving the walls back even enlisted actor Pierce Brosnan who grew up in the area — the actor incidentally posted an image of the road to Instagram on a visit back to the town in March last year. According to a local newspaper, the Meath Chronicle, Brosnan wrote in an email of his affinity to the road, he added: “I’m not sure what help I can be from the beach at Malibu”.

Now, Sinn Féin councillors Eddie Fennessy and Sinead Burke have suggested restricting the road to only local access for motorists. Under this plan safe and segregated space for cycling and walking would be created not by widening the road but by stopping through motor traffic from crossing bridge over the railway.

Such bollards and motorist detours are controversial at first but often gain wider public support, as happened in Drumcondra in Dublin last year.

In a Facebook post last month, the councillors said: “Having consulted extensively with Meath County Council, the Navan Historical Society and the local Athlumney campaign group, Cllr’s Eddie Fennessy & Sinead Burke have decided to oppose the Athlumney to Trim Road Cycle and Pedestrian Scheme. We feel the current plan does not give due consideration to preserving the historical integrity of Athlumney. We will make the following submission when the planning process begins.”

The councillors said that the current plan would affect the historical integrity of the area around Athlumney Castle and Violet Hill House.

The two councillors said: “Sinn Féin propose that Meath County Council, in order to preserve the historical integrity of Athlumney Castle and its environs, adopt the following change to their plan; Closure of the road by retractable bollards to vehicular traffic from the railway bridge to the junction at the front outer wall of Athlumney Castle. This will negate the need to demolish the two walls in question and allow for the creation of a two-lane cycle track along the existing road.”

They added: “We discussed our submission with council during an onsite visit to Athlumney this morning. They informed us that a similar submission was made in 2016, it was rejected on the grounds that ‘issues of Anti-social behaviour were prevalent in the area and residents felt safer with cars using the road’. We feel this issue has been dealt with sufficiently under the new plan, which will see high spec CCTV camera’s with motion sensors erected, one at the bridge and another at the junction at the front of the castle.”

There has been mixed views among objectors to the cycle route — one admin of the Facebook group “Save Old Athlumney Castle Wall and 22 of Navan’s Oldest Trees” said he would be personally against the idea because of the effect it would have on motorists at peak times and made it worse for cyclists on other roads, but said that this was not a group position and they would not comment as a group until the council firms up the plan. No other admin replied to a request to do so.

The councillors posted the following image on Facebook:

I am editor of IrishCycle.com and have reported on and commented on cycling in Ireland for over a decade. My background is in journalism -- I have a BA in Journalism from DCU and HDip in Print Journalism from BCFE. I wrote about cycling for national newspapers, and then started CyclingInDublin.com for overflow stories. Later the website was re-branded to reflect a more national focus.

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