Rural cycle paths need to be safe and attractive, not full of barriers at every junction

Comment & Analysis: Between Foxford and Swinford in Mayo, the N26 Realignment at Cloongullane Bridge, over the River Moy, includes a shared walking and cycling path. It looks good, but is it?

This is a bit of an overview of the project and the different sections of the walking and cycling route:

  • White line: Length of project where there was land taken to widen and realign the road.
  • Red: Sections at both ends where the road was widen but no walking and cycling provision was made.
  • Purple: The old road alignment which is now used as a shared area for access and for people walking and cycling.
  • Green shared walking and cycling path.
  • Light blue: This seems to be an underpass for walking and cycling.

I’ve have some reasonably clear images of the shared path from passing by, but Street View shows how much of a 90 degree angle the path merges with the road:

The cycle path is also behind a crash barrier at this point, so, it’s not like a shortcut could be taken when cycling back onto the road where the path ends:

Why then is there a need for chicane barriers?

And two signs showing it’s a shared path at each entrance?

Nearly 600 metres into the walking and cycling route is a local side road… this is a low-volume side road yet barriers were deemed to be needed at both sides:

Street View shows there’s nothing really aimed at motorists to highlight this is a crossing point for people walking and cycling.

No road markings to show its crossing (even a non-priority one) and a generic bicycle yellow warning sign which is usually about people cycling on the same road not crossings it:

This contrasts with examples in the Netherlands where the sign is clear and the markings are on the road:

Street View has an image of the other side of the same side road:

These are repeated mistakes: Chicane barriers way too close to the junction and in the middle and at the bottom of a slope… how can anybody with any understanding of safety and risk think that the roll out of such barriers solve more issues than they create?

There isn’t ever a level service for a cyclist to stop on and the barrier is so close to the road that the dividing line on the path goes as far as the barrier:

As an aside: Along a surprising amount of the main road, between Foxford and Swinford, there seems to be a relatively wide grass margin where a 2.5-3m shared path could be replaced on one side of the road. Unfortunately, such projects are generally only provided where roads are being realigned. There are some positive signs that such is changing, time will tell.

Between Foxford and Swinford there’s also a few options including this section of backroad (orange line below) which might be an alternative to having a path right beside the main road. It would need resurfacing and possibly measures so that the resurfacing doesn’t make it more attractive route for access.

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