COMMENT & ANALYSIS: At least some people in Ballina have called for a walking and cycling bridge between Belleek Woods and the Quay area of Ballina for years — it would be good for not just tourism and leisure but also for walking and cycling as transport.
It would enable children and teenagers on one side or the other to access nature and play areas, a playground, pitches, a track, and schools, without having to take a longer trip by car.
Many of these trips are “parent taxi” trips which often include the parent dropping the child or teenager off and returning home or driving elsewhere for the hour of the sports practice etc — ie double trips by car. With the new bridge, walking and — more so — cycling would often offer a quicker alternative to the car than even where parents accompany the child (ie for younger children) there is a time saving for cycling compare to driving via the town centre.
For older children and teenagers it would be a core part of a safe and attractive connection to friend’s house on what is now the other side of the town.
For adults it would offer quicker routes from the Quay and Downhill areas to the Killala Road, ie to workplaces such as Ballina’s largest employer, Coca-Cola. And would also be a route between residential areas and make it more attractive to go for a walk in the woods or use sports facilities without getting into their cars.
As part of a wider network, it would offer benefits for tourism, leisure and transport along a green route around the town and as a way to connect hotels to the Belleek Greenway / Ballina to Killala Greenway and eventually be a node for longer-distance greenways which are planned or proposed.
Compared to the existing walking and cycling bridge to the south of the town centre, the proposed bridge near the Quay and the woods would be further away from Ballina’s two historic bridges. This means it would have a stronger case to act as an alternative to driving. As a side note: The use of the existing walking and cycling bridge is also likely underestimated by many people.
Connections to/from the bridge would also have to be looked at, including a walking/cycling connection to the Killala Road area of the town (a project which would have benefits as a standalone project).
Here are some examples of its usefulness in offering an alternative to walking and cycling — often in cities cycling is faster, but this is usually not the case in towns. So, the bridge is an opportunity to give cycling an advantage for many trips.
The Quay to the Belleek Woods / Athletics Track / Ballina Town FC
The Quay to Ballina Beverages Coca-Cola
The shorter green line is to the rear entrance (this might require planning permission and would need to have Coca-Cola on board).
Downhill Inn area to the Belleek Woods / Athletics Track / Ballina Town FC
Killala Road to Ballina Rugby Football Club
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