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‘CycleConnects’ will need local input to refine the plan for cycle networks across Ireland

COMMENT & ANALYSIS: On Friday it was announced ‘CycleConnects’ would cover the cycle network planning for the 22 counties — including towns and cities — outside of the Greater Dublin (where there’s already a cycle network plan). Local input will be needed to improve the plan.

Things like network plans and route classification matter more than you might thing, and the description of the interurban route (also outlined below) is a get out clause for not serving many places in the cycle network.

Here’s a short article on some of the Mayo elements of the draft CycleConnects network which might be useful for people in other areas.

There’s three elements — the county network; the urban networks covering Castebar, Ballina, and Westport; and the technical notes.

The CycleConnects Route Classification in the route technical notes is key to reading the maps:

Primary, secondary and greenway are what you think they would be.

Interurban is a bit more complicated: “On-road cycle route to link all key settlements and destinations outside urban areas. These may have potential to provide off-road/segregated routes parallel to the existing road in later years.”

Inter urban: “On-road cycle route to link all key settlements and destinations outside urban areas. These may have potential to provide off-road/segregated routes parallel to the existing road in later years.”

This is worrying for a few reasons:

(1) Routes within towns linking to high employment, schools, large housing estates etc have been marked as “interurban”. But these need segregation in the short-term and are clearly should be part of the primary urban network.

(2) Where back roads are used segregated will not always be the preferred option. It’s standard across Europe to use lower-traffic rural roads like this, sometimes with extra measures.

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(3) A cycle network for a market town really needs to stretch beyond its urban boundaries to clusters of housing, villages etc. Where segregation is needed to the next town or village etc, this cannot be long fingered if you want to build a truly useful cycle network.

Regarding the urban networks:

There’s a known issue with the boundary the CSO uses for the population in Ballina, but overall Ballina and Castlebar are largely comparable, and Westport is notably smaller in population size and far more compact, so there’s something wrong with the map scale used:

  • Castlebar — 1,8000
  • Ballina — 1:5500
  • Westport — 1:7000

This is the primary route marked on the Westport Road in Castlebar — and a satellite with the red marker showing where it ends:

Meanwhile on the Killala Road in Ballina (disclosure: it’s where I live!), everything above the red line is excluded:

  • The Coca-Cola factory, which is one of Mayo’s largest employers (access at red arrow).
  • An existing school and a larger replacement school being built across the road (green arrow).
  • A large housing estate (yellow arrow), four smaller housing estates, and a number of clusters of housing along the main road or beside the estates.
  • A few other businesses.

On the other side of town, another part of the urban area is cut off from:

  • Hollister factory, the first or second largest employer in the town.
  • A housing estate and clusters of housing.
  • A number of other buildings.
  • Another school (although on the far side side of distance outside of town, it still serves the town and is cycable from the nearby estates).

There’s other issue such as not including other obvious potential links in the plan.

CycleConnects is only a draft, it shouldn’t be perfect at this stage. The point is: It’s really worth checking your local area maps and responding to the public consultation before November 11. is reader-funded journalism. That means it's funded by readers like you.

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Cian Ginty

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