— Route will form part of Dublin to Galway greenway, and EuroVelo 2 Capitals Route.
— Route to detour far from the direct route to Gort and Portumna.
Campaigners seeking the red route for the Galway to Athlone greenway to be chosen have welcomed the decision, while some have questioned the indirect route and others have said “why not both”.
At the time of writing, no formal announcement on the route selection has been made. But a number of political and campaign sources have pointed to a presentation given to Galway County Council councillors this morning which showed the preferred route.
The route is expected to go via locations such as Shannon Bridge, Portumna, Gort, Coole, Kinvara, Clarinbridge, and Oranmore.
The route would be part of the cross-Europe EuroVelo 2 Capitals Route from Galway to Dublin, but — besides of the detour — it will also take in part of the Shannon greenway from Limerick to Lanesborough, and the EuroVelo Route 1, the Atlantic Coast Route.
A key part of the reasoning for the route is believed not just to be the scenic nature of the route, but also that it uses more State-owned land than the other options and avoids the areas where opposition from landowners has stalled the route for years.
In slides shown to councillors, the project team for the route said that it “utilises a lot of state-owned land, principally owned by Coillte, Bord na Mona, and ESB” and that “Route Corridor 5 in general has strong local support, though there are a number of locations where this is not the case”
RedRoute5, a local campaign for the red route, said: “The news is out #RedRoute5 has been selected as the preferential route to Connect Athlone with Galway! Check out the route detail! This has been a major community-driven campaign, and we are over the moon with the result.”
Galway Cycling Campaign saidCongrats to the Red Route 5 community @RCycleway for a truly inspiring and energetic cycleway campaign! This route had the most submissions; it shows the importance of grassroots advocacy and collaboration.”
However, away from formal campaign groups, members of the public online have expressed surprise with the indirectness of the route and issues such as possible gradients. Some said that it favours tourism over commuters but others say it will also be useful for commuting for many people.
There was also disappointment from people who live alone the other possible routes. But there has been a commitment made that Athenry will be connected to Galway.
Cllr Shelly Herterich Quinn, a Fianna Fáil councillor based in Athenry, said: “After my initial disappointment on hearing that the #NationalCycleway was not coming through #Athenry or any of our surrounding villages I have received a commitment from the Director of Services that they absolutely will look at connecting #Athenry to the National Cycleway.”
A number of politicians and groups shared slides by Cian McGuiness, Project Manager with consultants RPS.
The slides outline that: “Route Corridor 5 offers outstanding scenery and variety, all along its
length. It offers a series of distinct settings, ranging from the coast of Galway bay with views of the Burren, the Burren lowlands around Gort, the forested hills in the Slieve Aughties, the River Shannon Callows and Lough Derg, and the peatland landscapes of the Bord na Mona bogs. It transverses areas of high landscape quality, and the topography allows for regular high quality views.”
It continues: “It offers most to see and do, with many highly rated attractions along the length of the route, including parks and nature reserves and offers a strong cultural heritage experience.”
The slides said that the route provides “a convenient 3 day cycling itinerary between Galway and
Athlone, compared to some other options that offer only a 2 day itinerary”