As development of the Royal and Grand canal greenways continues, County Kildare needs to take advantage its location by offering people a safe cycling link between the two canals, writes cycling campaigner Paul Corcoran.
There are suggestions already to connect the canals closer to Dublin City, with inner and outer cycle Dublin loops. The outer loop also called the 12th Lock to 12th Lock, from the 12th Lock in Castleknock to 12th Lock in Lucan. The inner cycle loop is suggested to connect the canals via the Phoenix Park.
A ‘Kildare Canal Loop’ of just over 52km would allow people to start cycling in the Docklands (or other locations) on one canal and loop back on the other canal. A possible route could be between Hazelhatch and Leixlip Louisa Bridge (see map below).
It makes sense for Co Kildare to have its own loop link which could be a link for leisure, tourism and also help people to cycle safety to school, work, sports clubs, and to the train stations at both ends. So, the Hazelhatch to Leixlip Louisa bridge canal loop idea is being proposed for consideration by residents, commuters, tourists and Kildare County Council.
The concept is to promote sustainable transport, tourism and active travel in the area. It would connect to Celbridge via Castletown House just south of Hewlett Packard, somewhere close to MU Barnhall RFC.
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This new proposed connecting link can complete the loop between both canals in the Kildare County Council area, with a route length of around 8km.
From Leixlip Louisa Bridge you would exit the Royal Canal and head towards Leixlip village centre and take a right onto the R404 at Leixlip Garda Station. This section of road is currently quite dangerous and not a safe for all ages and abilities.
Some design improvements such as traffic calming and filtered streets to increase safety for cycling and walking around the Backweston area to Hazelhatch would make a huge difference.
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Currently most of the route is shared with vehicles, while some of the roads are low traffic volume roads they can be busy during commuting times in the morning and evening. Cycle paths would be needed along parts of the route.
Why connect the canals? Tourists, Commuters, safe routes to schools
It would benefit local residents who would be able to make their safer journeys to schools and shops and go for a coffee in a safe manner. It would allow more people to choose to cycle and walk to work in the many large organisations such as Intel at one end and Hewlett Packard in the middle of the route.
One of the main reasons for the connection would be to increase tourism and generate revenue for the local and wider economy in Celbridge which would benefit many of the local cafes and restaurants.
It is estimated that cycling tourism generates €44 billion across the EU. Ireland is on the cusp of completing some of its major greenway routes and these routes could eventually be connected and integrated into a greenway network across the country. This will make Ireland in a few years a more desirable destination for active travel holiday makers.
The opportunity for tourism is quite significant if we consider Celbridge as your base during your stay and holiday. International tourists and local day trippers could take a train to Hazelhatch or Leixlip Louisa bridge and cycle into Celbridge with its many fine restaurants and pubs. From Dublin.
It would take a good day of cycling at a slow pace along the Royal Canal to get to Louisa Bridge and the last part of the Journey into Celbridge would take another approximately 20 minutes .
Local and nearby tourist attractions could offer people options for things to do on a longer stay such as Castletown House, Rye River Brewery, Arthur’s Way-Guinness trail, wonderful barn, and Ballykellys mills in Monasterevin
Any thoughts or suggestions for the route or alterative routes? Make sure to leave a comment below.
Recently launched Celbridge Cycling Campaign is setting up a new group for Celbridge area and environs to make cycling the fun and easy choice. The group is affiliated with Cyclist.ie, the Irish Cycling Advocacy Network for everyday cycling and greenways.