The scale of transport and climate change Minister Eamon Ryan’s Pathfinder walking, cycling, and public transport programme is not in question — 35 projects across 19 counties, including the five cities — is not in question, but it will take some time before we’ll see if this scale is matched by delivery of quality and effectiveness on decarbonisation.
Some of the projects seem to be a repackaging of already announced projects.
The Department of Transport even described the programme as “not a new funding stream” but rather “an initiative aimed at ensuring the projects selected are provided the impetus to deliver quickly and demonstrate what can be achieved with the right level of ambition and innovation.”
The launch this morning followed Minister Ryan writing to local authorities over the summer to submit their “most innovative, transformative” plans for public transport, walking and cycling in their areas.
In pre-prepared remarks issued in a press release, Minister Ryan said: “I was delighted with the response to my call to local authorities to participate in the Pathfinder Programme. This first selected list shows clearly that there is a real appetite for change across the country.”
He claimed that the shortlisted projects “all unique” and have three key things in common — that they are “innovative”, “ambitious” and “will be delivered at speed.”
“The Leadership Group through this Pathfinder Programme will continue to engage with all local authorities to ensure momentum and that the lessons and experience of the shortlisted projects are shared for everyone’s benefit,” said Minister Ryan.
He added: “Decarbonising transport presents an enormous challenge, one which requires a fundamental change in how we travel including a shift in our mindset and choices. By 2025 the selected pathfinder projects will be in action, improving the communities in which they will be implemented, and demonstrating to other localities how our system can be transformed. By delivering quickly, and by striking out on a path which others will follow, they will help to drive implementation of the Government’s Sustainable Mobility Policy.”
The Department of Transport said that projects are split into the following categories:
• National Impact: includes CycleConnects, a national brand coordinating high-quality cycle routes in urban areas.
• Cycle Network/Corridor Proposals: projects such as West Wexford Urban Cycle Network, Sligo Cycle Corridor and Meath Rural Cycleway Rapid Development.
• Public Transport: projects such as Moyross Train Station and Athlone Bus Electrification.
• 15 Minute Neighbourhoods: projects such as the Letterkenny Active Travel Town and Naas Mobility Network and the 5 Cities Active Travel Demonstrators.
• Serving Schools/Universities: projects like the acceleration of the Safe Routes to School Programme, Limerick University Connectivity, BusIT2School in Co. Meath.
• Workshops and Research: includes nationwide Sustainable Mobility Training Workshops and Leitrim “Green Mile” Mobility Pilot.
A summery of the projects is below.
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Anne Graham, CEO of the National Transport Authority said: “Pathfinder Projects will be transformative in our cities by reducing car dependency and widening access for active travel and public transport.”
She added: “The projects can deliver once-in-a-generation change to active travel through CycleConnects in all our cities focussing on the delivery of the core active travel networks in those cities and making new connections such as between Limerick’s three higher education institutions. The Pathfinder projects also supports the delivery of the first zero emission public transport services in Athlone and Dingle and starts us on an ambitious delivery path for zero emission bus services across Ireland.”
The launch was set at Castletymon Library a location on South Dublin County Council’s planned Dublin 24 Rapid Build Cycling Network, which is one of the largest neighbourhood-wide quick-build cycling projects planned in Ireland.
Michael Mulhern, Director of Planning and Transport, said: “The scale of interest shown by Local Authorities across the Country in putting forward so many excellent projects is hugely encouraging.
He added: “It shows the level of commitment and ambition that each Local Authority has to deliver these projects which will drastically enhance our local walking, cycling and public transport networks. We need the continued support from central Government, the NTA as well as local communities to successfully deliver these projects.”
The following is from the official summary of projects involved in Pathfinder
Pathfinder Programme – Project Summaries National Impact
This Pathfinder Project is part of the NTA’s overall CycleConnects Programme and will focus on core networks in urban areas, prioritising delivery of parts of the network that will deliver high-quality cycle routes close to the homes of most people in urban areas. Similar to BusConnects, CycleConnects will create a unified brand and sense of cohesion around these core corridors, with the overall aim to have 70 to 80% of the urban population within 500m of the completed Core Network in 2028. The Pathfinder programme will prioritise several key urban locations which will tie in with the Five Cities Active Travel Demonstrators.
- Inter-Urban Demonstrator (National Link Cork-Waterford)
Transport Infrastructure Ireland will lead on this Pathfinder project to establish the first complete city-to-city cycling route in Ireland. The project will complete the remaining sections of the route between Cork and Waterford which do not yet have high quality active travel infrastructure in place or under construction, building cycling lanes from Cork City to Dunkettle; Carrigtohill to Midleton; and Youghal to Dungarvan. When complete, the project will allow for seamless travel by active modes between the two cities and will function as a demonstrator of inter-urban linkages which may be later developed on other city-to-city routes.
- Smarter Travel Award/Mark
The Smarter Travel Mark, to be developed by the NTA, will recognise a workplace or campus as being committed to active and sustainable travel for their workforce, students, or visitors. Where feasible, organisations will be encouraged to unlock car drivers’ habits by rewarding staff for giving up driving spaces; they may consider reducing their sites’ available car parking spaces. Public sector organisations will be specifically encouraged to apply for certification, but the Smarter Travel Mark will also be available to organisations of all sizes demonstrating a commitment to sustainable travel. Three levels of certification will be available, and all organisations should aspire to reach gold level.
• Bronze: The organisation has basic facilities in place to support sustainable commuting and is committed to further Smarter Travel actions.
• Silver: The organisation has a broad range of measures in place that support sustainable commuting and is committed to further Smarter Travel actions.
• Gold: The organisation has outstanding measures in place that support active commuting and is committed to long-term investment and leadership in Smarter Travel. Where feasible, the organisation has decommissioned car parking spaces to encourage sustainable travel.
Cycle Network/Corridor Proposals
Wexford Cycle Network
This project will be delivered by Wexford County Council and involves combining several proposed walking and cycling schemes to develop a network which, when complete, will comprise over 10.5 km of both off-road and segregated on-road cycle paths. The network will provide enhanced walking and cycling access to several schools, develop an active travel link between Barntown Village and the centre of Wexford town, link with the EUROVELO cycle route to Rosslare Harbour, and develop active travel connections to the town’s train and bus station at Redmond Square. Where feasible, the project will also incorporate streetscape upgrades with new street tree planting and drainage systems.
Longford Cycle Network
This Longford County Council Pathfinder project will comprise a radial cycle network along three approach roads leading to Longford town centre, with the ‘Battery Road (R198)’ and ‘Ballinalee / Major Well’s Road (N63)’ sites advancing north and eastward towards the N4, with the ‘Farranyoogan (N63)’ extending westward and with further access opportunities to the Royal Canal Greenway. Each location involves the introduction of a new cycleway connection and improved footpath provision. Where feasible, extensive tree planting and sustainable drainage systems will be provided. These connections will lay the foundation for a core network connecting areas of highest employment, retail, educational and social activity. The proposed routes are also in line with Longford Town’s Local Transport Plan, County Longford’s Active Travel Strategy, and the draft version of the National Cycling Network.
Rural Cycleway Rapid Deployment – Navan to Trim
This Pathfinder project will be delivered by Meath County Council on part of the R161 between Navan and Trim and will look at methods for rapid deployment of a rural cycleway on the verges of a regional road in the county. The project will explore pragmatic and cost-effective ways to construct a safe, segregated facility quickly within the existing road boundary while finding solutions to deal with any segregation, drainage, boundary treatments, junction/access layouts, signage, surfacing and safety issues. If it proves successful, the trial will be scaled up and applied to longer stretches of regional roads across the country.
Dundalk Regional Road Cycleway
This Pathfinder will be led by Louth County Council and will develop a 4km section of the R132 Dundalk Inner Relief Road to deliver improved walking and cycling facilities and a safe commuter corridor. The safe commuter corridor will allow for pedestrians and cyclists to “hop on, hop off” to access areas along the length of the town, and will complement the existing cycle lanes that are predominantly within the town centre. Providing walking and cycling infrastructure and public realm space along this corridor will lead to improvements in air quality and access local services such as education, health, retail, sports and leisure, employment and public transport stations
Mullingar Cycle Corridor with links to Dublin-Galway Greenway
This Westmeath County Council project involves the provision of a walking and cycling route from the west to the east side of the town to bring cyclists into the core of the town, linking into the Dublin-Galway Greenway/Royal Canal Blueway and incorporating improved public realm aspects. The walking and cycling facilities along this route will service key destinations including business, retail, residential, educational and leisure. The cycle corridor will complement the existing bike hire scheme in the town, which has seen increasing usage numbers since its launch at the end of April 2022. It is intended that the provision of improved infrastructure will facilitate further expansion of the scheme.
Wicklow Active Travel Links
This Pathfinder project will be delivered by Wicklow County Council and will fast-track the delivery of a number of core walking and cycling infrastructure projects providing connectivity to towns within Wicklow, focusing in particular on Wicklow town and Greystones. The procect will include the provision of high quality, safe, legible pedestrian and cycle links to train stations and public transport hubs in the county.
Five Cities Demonstrator: Waterford Cycle backbone
This Pathfinder project will link Waterford City to the Waterford Greenway in 2023 through the Bilberry connection, which is currently under construction. The project will see this connection being extended across the River Suir to the proposed Strategic Development Zone lands, and along the Dublin Road and inner Ring Road to provide a cycle backbone to the city.
Five Cities Demonstrator: East Cork Sustainability Corridor
This Pathfinder project will link with the Inter-Urban Demonstrator project connecting Waterford and Cork. The project will be led by the NTA and link Cork City Centre to the Dunkettle roundabout, as well as linking in village and town networks along the Greenway.
Moyross Train Station
The Moyross project will deliver a new train station in a growing area of suburban Limerick, which is undergoing significant regeneration. The construction of this train station is a key element of the Limerick Shannon Metropolitan Area Transport Strategy 2040 to support compact growth and improve connectivity for the area’s growing population. The acceleration of this project, which is funded by the National Transport Authority (NTA), will provide tangible benefits to the local area and facilitate a significant modal shift to more sustainable modes of travel.
Waterford North Quays
This Pathfinder proposal is part of a much wider redevelopment project on the North Quays in Waterford that remains subject to Government approval. If approved by Government, it will involve significant enhancement in active travel infrastructure linked with public transport investment in the city. Further details will be announced on the overall project in the coming weeks by the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage consequent upon a decision on the overall project by Government.
Athlone Bus Service Electrification
The transition of the Athlone Town Bus Service to battery electric buses has been developed by the NTA as a pilot project to define the pathway to the transition to zero emissions. The project considers all aspects of the transition.This includes fleet, bus depot electrification and installation of charging infrastructure. Driver and maintenance training, new technology requirements such as depot and charging management systems, and operational impacts of battery electric vehicles also feature. This pathfinder project will see early outcomes as electric buses will come into service in Q1 2023, and the learnings from this pilot will be used to inform the plan to transition to zero across all urban bus fleets throughout the period of the Pathfinder programme.
Dingle Integrated Community-Based Sustainable Mobility for Rural Ireland
This project is a Pathfinder community-anchored pilot to enable delivery of decarbonisation of the transport sector in an integrated way on the Dingle Peninsula (Kerry CoCo Decarbonisation Zone). This project, delivered by Dingle Hub, brings together community initiatives, the provision of improved public transport and the use of electric or low carbon vehicles.
Five Cities Demonstrator: Galway Cross-City Link
The Galway Cross City Link is a project under the wider BusConnects programme. When complete, the Cross-City link will have a transformational impact on access to the city, with public transport and bikes facilitated with direct access, while private cars will be routed around the city centre. The bus network routes will be altered to provide high-frequency services along this high-quality corridor, with predictable and reliable journey times and opportunities for interchange. The cross-city link will ensure that public transport services can access key areas such as the retail and recreational centre of the city, public transport hubs at the rail and bus stations, and key areas such as University Hospital Galway and University of Galway.
10-15 Min Neighbourhoods
Five Cities Demonstrator: Dublin Active Travel City The Five Cities Active Travel demonstrator for Dublin will encompass several schemes across all four local authority areas. The schemes incorporate elements of cycle infrastructure, traffic reduction, road space reallocation, public realm improvements, and the 10-min neighbourhood. Its component parts are:
• Dun Laoghaire/Blackrock Area (Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council) – 10-minute town model to include segregated cycle facilities, the creation of ‘blocks’ which will be accessible to pedestrians only, an expansion of walking and cycling options into the area south of Dun Laoghaire.
• Dublin 24 Area Rapid Build and Castletymon neighbourhood (South Dublin County Council) – This scheme will include rapid delivery of a 11km cycle network in Tallaght/D24, and the development of Castletymon as a 10-min neighbourhood via walking and cycling infrastructure, with public realm improvements. Both projects will link with the Dodder Valley cycle scheme creating an overall enhanced walking and cycling network.
• Dublin City Centre (Dublin City Council) – The city centre element of this pathfinder will combine the conversion of College Green and Dame Street to a low-traffic environment with the enhancement of public transport and active travel provision via the review of the City Centre Transport Study. The project will implement major changes in College Green/Dame Street, the North and South Quays, Beresford Place, Gardiner Street, Pearse Street/Tara Street, and Stephens Green, in conjunction with the rollout of BusConnects and CycleConnects to transform travel within the city centre.
• Swords/Airport Connectivity (Fingal County Council) – Dublin Airport is one of the biggest employers in Dublin and a high proportion of staff live in the Swords area, which is less than 5km to the north, but which currently has poor cycle connectivity. This active travel demonstrator will rapidly build out a network in Swords to facilitate improved connectivity which will be further enhanced when the BusConnects scheme is complete in 2028.
Letterkenny – Reallocation of Road Space for Walking and Cycling Donegal County Council will deliver a series of pedestrian- and cyclist-focused schemes aimed at improving the 10min-town active travel journey between key destinations throughout Letterkenny. The Project includes two schemes linked to Safe Routes to School, and will link residential areas with education, employment, commercial, recreational, retail and tourist sites through high-quality walking and cycling infrastructure.
Lismore Park, Waterford – Improving permeability in a city-centre residential area Waterford City and County Council will convert Lismore Park to a pedestrian, cycle, and public transport centred community. The project will re-design the major routes and green open spaces of Lismore Park to a sustainable transport community with the goals of the 10/15-minute neighbourhood. The area to be developed is located immediately north of the South East Technological University (SETU) campus on the Cork Road. The project will also include the development of a cyclist friendly “quiet route” through this area.
Clonmel 10 min town This Pathfinder Project will be delivered by Tipperary County Council and aims to reduce the dominance of the car within the town centre and reduce carbon emissions. The project will prioritise pedestrian access to town centre streets. At certain locations it will involve creation of shared spaces, wider pedestrian facilities with seating, cycle stands and smart technology, incorporating tree planting, landscaping and drainage measures. The project will connect existing and proposed walking and cycling infrastructure such as the Suir Blueway, proposed Suir Island pedestrian and cycling bridge, the proposed Cahir to Clonmel Greenway and the Safe Route to Schools Projects. The complete project will provide a viable alternative for people to choose sustainable mobility over the private car, taking a whole journey approach to how people can live, work and relax in the urban environment.
Naas Mobility Network Integration The Naas Mobility Network Integration project aims to reduce traffic congestion in Naas town centre, improving safety and accessibility. It will see the completion of a 45m extension of Corban’s Lane as an alternative route for traffic and will involve linking and construction of walking and cycling infrastructure. The project will also link with existing Active Travel infrastructure and will construct further routes to connect residences, schools, retail and medical facilities and existing public transport.
Killarney – 10 min town The Kerry County Council Pathfinder will encompass the construction of a core defined cycling network in Killarney. The project will also incorporate a number of Safe Routes to Schools. The Pathfinder will facilitate Killarney’s development as a sustainable, compact, settlement in line with 10-minute town principles, whereby a range of community facilities, schools and services are accessible in short walking and cycling timeframes from homes.
Safe Routes to Schools Programme – Acceleration
This Pathfinder Project will accelerate the delivery of the NTA’s Safe Routes to School Programme through improved resourcing and an initial focus on more rapid implementation of front-of-school treatments, which will bring immediate safety improvements in the vicinity of the schools. Acceleration of the programme will be helped by streamlining the planning process for these front of schools. It is proposed to establish a rolling programme for implementing subsequent rounds of schools so approximately 500 schools will have front of school zones completed, cycle parking in place, and draft delivery plans completed by the end of 2025.
Rathmullan Road and Marley’s Lane, Drogheda
This Pathfinder Project will be delivered by Louth County Council and will create a safer and more sustainable transport link between local schools, healthcare facilities, and sports and leisure facilities along Marley’s Lane and the upper part of Rathmullan Road, to the town centre of Drogheda, in line with the 15 minute Neighbourhood concept. The scheme will also provide a link to the town for people living along the scheme in the multiple housing estates, and to connect with Drogheda Town Centre, as well as Bus and Train stations along the R132. The Project will play an integral part in connecting residential areas, town centre, educational premises and an existing Boyne River Path, which provides a critical linkage for cyclists commuting to work and schools in Drogheda Town Centre. CARLOW 25. Hanover to Tyndall Active Travel Route to the Technological University In Carlow, the Hanover to Tyndall Pedestrian and Cycle Scheme will be delivered by Carlow County Council. The project will provide high quality pedestrian and cycle facilities along the R448 in Carlow Town, connecting Carlow Bus Park and the educational facilities of South East Technological University (SETU) and Tyndall College which are located along the R448.
Five Cities Demonstrator: Limerick City University Connectivity This Five Cities Demonstrator pathfinder will develop a link from the campuses of the main third-level institutions, as well as several primary and secondary schools and further education centres, to the City Centre and each other through a series of high-quality cycle routes, facilitating walking and cycling access to these institutions for students and staff. This project will also create cross-city connectivity.
Active Travel Corridor – Carraroe, Sligo Town, Atlantic Technological University Sligo Campus
This Pathfinder project will contribute to the development of Sligo as a “3km Cycle Friendly Town” by providing an Active Travel Infrastructure corridor from Carraroe south of Sligo town to the town centre, linking residential areas, schools, retail facilities, community facilities, employment centres and increasing opportunities for walking and cycling from the suburbs into the town centre. A further Active Travel Corridor extending from Sligo Town Centre to the ATU Sligo campus at Ballinode, and incorporating contraflow cycling solutions, will alleviate the need for cyclists to travel circuitous routes around the town network, and facilitate access to the university by sustainable modes of transport.
Athlone Cycle Corridor, linking TU with Centre Westmeath County Council will provide an Active Travel route from Baylough on the west side of the town (county boundary with Roscommon County Council) along the Old Galway Road/Old Dublin Road to Creggan on the eastern extremity of the town. It will build in connectivity with the Dublin-Galway Greenway at multiple locations which will benefit a core area through the town, providing walking and cycling facilities to key destinations including business, retail, residential, educational and leisure and linking with the pedestrian/cycle bridge currently under construction across the River Shannon as part of the Dublin-Galway Greenway. The cycle corridor will also encompass the Technological University of the Shannon – Midlands (TUS), which has a significant student population, and which will be a hub location for Athlone’s new bike hire scheme.
BusIt2School – Working with schools and community to encourage use of town bus services instead of cars This Project will be delivered by Meath County Council, who will work with various schools in Navan along the town bus network to develop a ‘BusIt2School’ Programme aimed to encourage school children who are typically driven to school to take the bus instead. The Council will use a collaborative community-based approach working with the school boards, teacher, parents, pupils, the NTA, Bus Eireann, and An Taisce to deliver the project.
Smart and Sustainable Mobility Training Workshops
This Pathfinder is a capacity-building and education initiative for Local Authorities (LAs), Councillors and Public Participation Networks (PPNs) in each Region. It will be project managed and coordinated by the Regional Assemblies with County and City Management Association (CCMA) support and co-designed with Sustainable Mobility Policy (SMP) Delivery Team partners. Along with international sustainable mobility experts, it will deliver training programmes for LAs including Active Travel teams, and for business community reps, elected members, and local communities to build local SMP ambassadors. It will be an enabler for other pathfinder projects, by applying good practice project learning to location-specific project challenges and assisting in the acceleration of infrastructure projects and smart mobility initiatives. Workshops will target case study projects in a range of locations (Cities, Regional Growth Centres, Key Towns, Rural Areas) focusing on creative, cost-effective, early win projects that are impacting modal shift and SMP targets.
“The First and Last Green Mile”: Pilot to integrate Local Link service, hackney and community e-bike scheme This pilot project, which will be delivered by Leitrim County Council, will explore how community-based solutions can improve integration with public transport services. The pilot encompasses further research into demand for services, building on an existing community car scheme. Following this, an operations model and governance system will be developed. The project will also include the development of a software management tool to match requests with transport providers. The Pathfinder aims to provide insight into effective rural sustainable mobility options, facilitating households, where possible, to move from two car to one car ownership.
Research and pilot to trial carpooling among large employers
This project will be delivered by Leitrim County Council, which will pilot an employee carpooling scheme among County Leitrim’s largest employers. The County Council will provide leadership by implementing this scheme with its 250 staff members and has begun a process of engagement with the largest employers in the county to encourage their participation. The project will utilise off the shelf software for its roll out to coordinate requests and to incentivise staff to participate. Following a review of the pilot, the project may be extended to other specific groups (e.g., sports/youth groups), and could be replicated for use in other rural areas.
Sligo Shared E-Bike Scheme – expansion Sligo County Council has rolled out a 12-month trial for electric bikes (e-bikes) in and around Sligo Town, which will run until June 2023. The primary purpose of this trial is to establish whether an efficient and convenient e-bike scheme will help to support and encourage the desired shift from private car towards sustainable shared transport alternatives. This Pathfinder will facilitate the expansion of the pilot scheme through the provision of charging docks in two locations in Sligo town and will build on the learning gained from the pilot to inform the development of shared e-bike schemes in similar sized towns.
Workplace Mobility Hubs – Four Dublin Local Authorities Building on initial work done to date through this project, Smart Dublin will establish a shared mobility scheme for staff at the four Dublin Local Authorities (DLAs) to use for business-related travel. The project will contribute to the aims of the National Climate Action Plan, DLA Climate Action Plans, and an array of policies relating to sustainable workplace mobility and digitisation. The aim of the project will be to assess the operational, technical, and behavioural aspects of staff shared mobility for the hubs established in Dublin City Council, Fingal County Council, and Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council, and under consideration in South Dublin County Council.
Last Mile Delivery Under this Project, Smart Dublin will seek to progress two sub-projects within the last mile sphere. 1. Kerbside Management • Dynamic management parking and loading bays to manage vehicle movement and aid better planning of the public realm. This sub-project aligns with Dublin City Development Plan 2022. 2. Microhubs • Reducing the number of bigger, motorised vehicles entering the city and increasing the use of smaller, cleaner, or zero emission, vehicles for lower congestion and Greenhouse Gasses (GHGs). This sub-project aligns with Dublin City Development Plan 2022 and the Transport Strategy for the Greater Dublin Area.