A new school at the edge of town is opening on an 80km/h road with no footpath or crossing

Comment & Analysis: Back in 2018, IrishCycle.com covered how Culleens NS on Killala Road in Ballina was moving its school from one side of an 80km/h road to the other. The new school will be on the side with no cycle or footpath, and there’s no traffic calming or formal crossing on the road.

Culleens is my old national school, and I live nearby. After I spotted the plan for the new national school and another new secondary school in the town, I used them as examples of fig leaf cycle lanes continuing to be built at new Irish schools (see part one and part two).

Back in 2018, I wrote: “The council reply to the school in the planning file seems to indicate that they will be providing a footpath [to the school]”. There was no mention of a shared path for cycling, but children could at least use the footpath.

Fast-forward six years, and the new Culleens school is to open soon, but there’s still no path of any kind on the main road outside of the school. The sad fact is that Mayo County Council has not made any tangible progress in creating a safe walking and cycling path ahead of the opening of the new school building.

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We’re talking about a gap of just 300 metres between the current footpath, which stretches out from the town centre, and where it would need to be extended to serve the school and the housing estate beside it.

Two housing estates were built on either side of the road, so there’s also a demand for children to be able to cross the road to the school. Ahead of a more substantial change in the road’s design and a lower speed limit, the council could add a central median so that at least schoolchildren wouldn’t have to run across the full road all at once.

While councillors agreed to a motion to extend the footpath to the school, officials have not followed up on this.

Mayo County Council gave planning permission for the school, the two housing estates, and a number of business units outside the town boundary, mainly when the town council was still in place. The council has an obligation to the people living there and to the children going to school there.

What’s worse is that while residents on Killala Road were left without a footpath on a busy road, other footpaths have been built in the town in locations which did not have even a faction of the need for footpaths. Far less busy roads with lower speeds where paths aren’t as vital to safety.

For example, national walking and cycling funding was spent on a 230-metre-long footpath between the Belleek Gate Lodge and the park across from the Belleek Manor housing estate. The new footpath opposite the houses in Belleek doesn’t even make sense because what was needed was a few smaller but well-placed interventions.

That would include a raised crossing from the existing footpath to the park and an accessible entrance into the parkland beside the soccer club. Towards the town, traffic calming would help people to walk safely under the Gate Lodge. Then, a section of footpath and a crossing to meet the existing one on Castle Road would be needed towards the town centre, where more traffic calming and another crossing are badly needed. I’m only mentioning this because most or all of these interventions are still needed.

Back on the Killala Road, senior council staff can still act quickly on this. They could find the funding and use their powers under Section 38 of the Road Traffic Act to build a footpath and cycle path along the main road and reconfigure the work already done to add a central median to make it safer to cross.

The time to act was years ago, the best time to make up for that is now.


A previous article included a proposal for a Killala Road Safety and Accessibility Scheme. The following is the relevant section of that proposal which could be built quickly as a stand-alone section:

Culleens NS to Belleek Crossroads (333m)



Crossing at Culleens NS / Oaklawn

Even if the council wants to continue to treat the area at Culleens NS / Oaklawn as a higher-speed road, there is still a requirement to make the road safer for people crossing it. 

Possible traffic calming/crossing with central refuge (trees would be visible here but not shown in the image)

In the original article this layout was suggested for close to the Belleek Crossroads. The design could also be used outside the new school. A suggestion in the original article of a roundabout would be a larger project.

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