Cork on track to become urban greenway capital of Ireland

Urban and suburban greenways in Cork city could be the envy of many cities, according to the chairperson of the Cork Cycling Campaign.

“By the middle of this decade, the Southside of Cork city will have an urban greenway network that would be the envy of many cities,” said Conn Donovan, chairperson of the Cork Cycling Campaign.

He explained: “The Passage Railway Greenway will connect harbour villages and commuter towns to the Docklands of the city. The Curraheen Greenway will provide a link from the largest hospice in Ireland almost to the city centre, collecting the Munster Technological University and an IDA Business Park on the way.”

IMAGE: Greenways in Cork Cycle Network Plan.

“The Bandon Railway Greenway will improve connectivity in the southern suburbs and tie in with existing off-road cycle tracks and Greenways. The Grange Greenway will connect the suburbs of Frankfield and Grange to the Tramore Valley Park and help people access schools and aid with trips to the city centre,” he said

Donovan said: “All of these routes are, or will be, popular recreation places also and the demands places on the facilities will likely see issues arise as to conflict and a sense of ownership.”

But he warned that Cork needs more than greenways and greenways shouldn’t be left to pick up all the slack on the demand for cycle routes. Especially as there are no plans to provide vertical or horizontal segregation between walking and cycling on any of Cork’s greenways.

Donovan said: “With increasing levels of cycling predicted in Cork as part of the Climate Action Plan, there is an urgent need to ensure that the greenway network isn’t asked to carry too much weight. Good quality, continuous cycle routes also need to be developed in Cork.

Some of greenways have already been widened to avoid or at least reduce conflicts between walking and cycling, which has become an issue on busy routes.

Overview of greenway plans and upgrades in Cork

Passage Railway Greenway Phase 1 is being widened by Cork City Council to 5 metres in some places. Also park of the works is new lights, new ramps and access points, and trees and pollinator-friendly planning. The work started last July and is expected to go on for another 6-9 months.

Passage Railway Greenway Phase 2 is the second phase seeking to enhance a section of the same greenway to the east. The route options assessment was published in January 2021 and the council is working on finishing environmental reports for the preferred route.

On this route, Cork City Council has indicated it is not for turning on the issue of the controversial public consultation for this route even after Garda HQ distanced itself from a submission that the council took as an official submission. Most submissions saught a water-side route on the controversial section but the preferred route is a shared path between houses and a busy road.

Curraheen Greenway was resurfaced over the past 6 months, new lights added in, bike repair stations, benches, wayfinding signs, new access point to IDA Park on Model Farm Road. The works are almost finished now and fully open according to the Cork Cycling Campaign.

Curraheen Greenway at Model Farm Road There’s a missing section for the Curraheen walkway on the Model Farm Road A planning application is due in Q1 2022 for a toucan crossing and a bridge realignment. This will connect up the Curraheen walkway with the Lee Fields greenway and create a safe link from the SW corner of the city to Fitzgerald’s Park and into the city centre bike network

Grange to Tramore Valley Park bridge is planned to go over the N40 from Grange to Tramore Valley Park is doing out for tender shortly and construction will likely start in 2022. This bridge will connect Frankfield and Grange to Tramore Valley Park via a Greenway and a walk/bike bridge over the South Link towards Cork city centre.

IMAGE: An artist’s impression of the bridge over the N40 (Image: Cork City Council).

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